Hypertext Gardens Notes

My Map of Exploration:

Hypertext Gardens: Delightful Vistas > Mark Bernstein

The "home page" is a simply designed list of links that branch off from this main page. It's nice because everything there is to see on the whole page is within view, no scrolling needed. I decided to click on (link) Mark Bernstein first with the idea that I would get an idea of who the other of the site is.

Mark Bernstein (info page) >back button > Into the Garden

I wasn't disappointed; there he is. After looking around that page and learning a little bit about Bernstein, I hit the back button on my browser and went clicked (link) Into the Garden, having no idea what to expect on the other side.

Introduction > How can the craft of the hypertext invite readers to stay, to explore, and to reflect?

What I found was an introduction page, and the "into the garden" link makes sense now. It's like I'm first walking into the garden that is this web site. The "how can the craft..." link is really long, too long to be in regular text. But this link comes after the intro paragraph, and it's the only choice if I want to move on. On the other side, I expect a page that answers the question making up the link.

A New Path > Chasing Our Tales (opens new tab)

The paragraph does seem to sort of outline how to hold the reader's attention, but it doesn't go into much detail. I'm struggling coming up with why the title is "A New Path." Is the way to get readers to stay longer different than the methods people are already using? I expect the "chasing our tales" link to explain more. I clicked on it because I like the play on words -- spelling it t-a-l-e-s.

Chasing Our Tales > pernicious development > paying attention > truly effective > can it mean what it says > failure to pay attention >top --> Exit out

This opens a new tab in my browser. I click through several links, usually the first one on the page, except for "truly effective" because it was secluded from the rest of the links and looked more click-worthy somehow. Like "yeah! I want to learn something truly effective!" After awhile, I couldn't figure out what the site was trying to say, so I went back to the "A New Path" page.

A New Path > Beyond Navigation

Since I've already been here, I immediately clicked the next link in line, "beyond navigation," thinking it would tell me something about how hypertexts are more than a tool to get people to travel through a site.

Beyond the Navigation Problem > development of the web

Now all of a sudden, navigation is a "problem." When I read the link to this page, I thought navigation was a good thing, heading through a site looking for something useful. Now that I'm here, it's a hassle. But saying "Beyond" before it signifies that it isn't all problematic, only some people saw it as a problem, as explained in the paragraph. The second paragraph is even more helpful, and it seems like the link will take me to a page explaining how hypertexts developed alongside the web as a whole, and how that development worked for the users.

Recapitulation > the limits of structure

Recapitulation? What's that??? *Google*: summarizing and restating the main points of something. Interesting. As the web developed, the Navigation Problem forced designers to establish the norms of what make up our sites today. Menu bars, uniform navigational buttons, etc. This website seems to go against that to an extent. There's no home button anywhere. I feel with a site structured this way, it is easier to steer the reader where you want them to go. From here I clicked on (link) "The Limits of Structure," expecting a more detailed explanation of how the web designers' method of linking may not have been the most effective way to keep users busy on their sites.

The Limits of Structure ? Netscape (opens new tab) > exit > Gardens and Parks

No surprise in the page title. The text describes pretty much what I predicted. The way they structured web sites was simple, but it made the hypertext "sterile, inert, and distant." The next link I clicked on was "Gardens and Parks" because I hadn't been there yet.

Gardens and Paths >interesting things await us

The text changed from parks to paths. Could be because the photo is a path is what could be a park. Parks makes more sense to go along with gardens, but Paths is more useful in the linking and webpage metaphor. Using the context of (link) Interesting Things Await us, it seems like it will bring me to a page explaining how links can bring us to either exactly something we want, or something completely useless to us.

Rigid Design > anything more

The Rigid Design title corresponds with the idea of a skyscraper compared to a rigidly designed website. It's cool and useful, but gets boring and plain once you see it over and over. With the rigid structure, users want to get in, find what they're looking for, and get out. They won't explore. If links are more creatively placed, users can be enticed to stay longer and find something unexpected. The "anything more" link should bring me to something I don't expect to see -- something I'm not looking for, but something I still find useful.

Gardens > the virtue of irregularity

Gardens and parks represent the content that hypertext should bring us to. Not completely random wilderness, but not organized, uniform rows of crops on farmland either. The "virtue of irregularity" link should be about how each site should be unique, like I mentioned earlier.

Virtue of Irregularity > exactly as expected

I was pretty much right. "It is the artful combination of regularity and irregularity that awakens interest and maintains attention." Hypertext should be a series of strategic irregularities guiding the user through the pages. (link) "exactly as expected" makes sense here, because the text after it says paths should be clearly marked. This sentence is a marked path talking about marking paths. The metaphor works perfectly, and it's being used ironically here by explaining itself by using what it is talking about.

Shapes of Space > the promise of the unexpected

I don't understand why this page is titled "Shapes of Space." But the text on the page basically says what I just articulated above. "The Promise of the Unexpected" link seems like it would be the 'path' of the metaphor. Closer to wilderness than farmland, but still useful information.

Unexpected Delight > gates and signposts

The idea carries on here. Unexpected delight represents the useful information the users find where they don't expect to find anything. The hypertext simply led them there. "Gates and Signposts" (link) will be the context the designer needs to provide to give the user some idea of what's coming next if they click the link.

Gates and Signposts > order, too

The whole metaphor thing is getting really obvious at this point. I've started to predict many of the upcoming pages, which is what you're supposed to be able to do when dealing with hypertext. This guy's a genius. The closer to the 'wilderness' the upcoming page is, the better the gates and signposts you have to put up around the link. "Order, too" is a tougher one to predict. Will it just be more of the same concept?

Repetition > the effect of repetition

This site has repeated a few key concepts as I've worked my way through it, and now it's saying that is valuable to do. Clicking on the link, "the effect of repetition" will explain how, I imagine.

Establishing Color > statuary and follies

A codified structure within the wilderness is necessary so as not to lose your reader. Color and design are good tools to use. From here, "Statuary and Follies" (link) is a whole new section of the site, so it may not be closely related to the page I'm on now.

Statuary and Follies > Sharper relief through their constructed contrast

These are antonyms. This is another page that explains that balance between structure and irregularity is good (another example of repetition). Some hypertext is designed to guide the reader to a certain place, while some is meant to allow users to explore on their own. "Sharper relief through their constructed contrast" seems like a complicated concept. Constructed contrast refers to the strategic irregularity, so supposedly the user is comfortable on sites on which they can either be gently guided or go somewhere of their own choosing. I'll click to find out.

Puntuation > Cyborg: Engineering the Body Electric > back

The concept on this page makes sense, but I don't see what it has to do with punctuation. I like what the text explains though: saying "you're not going to like this" is actually gives off an attraction to the reader. Like "are you sure? I bet I'll prove you wrong and like it." The cyborg link brought me to an uninteresting page, so I didn't stay on it long. I wanted to get back to Bernstein.

Punctuation > Planning Pathways

Back to Punctuation, still don't get the title. Oh well. On to "planning pathways." Here, I expect to find how exactly designers should use hypertext and its signposts to get the reader to go where they want them to.

Planning Pathways > the best routes

Here, highways are added to the metaphor. They are the most efficient 'path.' When I click on the link, "the best route," it should explain how hypertext, when done well, directs the reader along the best, most efficient route through the site.

The Best Route > more than they expect

The best route is bringing the reader through the information they needed, but adding relevant but unexpected information that they may not have thought about before. It shouldn't just be raw data answering the users initial question, but should cause more questions to be formed in the user's mind.
I liked this: "The path must not twist so much that visitors think they are being led astray, nor be so slow that visitors give up and strike cross-country through search engines. Nevertheless, twists and detours can help designers give their readers more than they expect." The "more than they expect" link refers to the additional, unthought of information I just talked about.

Curves and Crossings > explore more deeply

This is interesting. This is about the giving of additional, unexpected information -- only its explaining it by actually doing it. Curves and crossings represent the times where hypertext may bring you to a page where you've been before, or keep you from going to a particular page at a certain time along the journey. "Explore more deeply" doesn't explain much about what's going to come next. It just talks about inviting readers to keep exploring to find an unexpected discovery.

Seven Lessons Learned from Gardening > In Conclusion

This is just a synopsis of what I've gone through on my journey through this site.
  1. Muddled writing causes disorientation when using hypertext. Put up signposts.
  2. Don't use the rigid structure. Navigations centers push readers away before they're finished exploring.
  3. The shortest path is not always the best.
  4. Effectively use parks and gardens. Give your reader what they are looking for, but give some 'wilderness' too.
  5. Irregularities enhance pathways.
  6. Set up signposts in the parks, so your reader doesn't see it as wilderness.
  7. Intricate structure makes hypertext seem larger, inviting more thoughtful exploration.

Garden's End

Finally, another navigational center -- one of two on the site, the other one coming at the very beginning. It took me on the journey while giving me lessons about sending a user on a journey through a site. He was explaining what he was doing while simultaneously doing it.
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