Notes from |Computer Lib/Dream Machines

I liked the fish analogy - that we are like fish in water, unaware of the changes in the media around us. I liked how he said we need to take control to shape the molecules we swim in.

The section about teaching was also interesting. I need to go back to this section. I thought it was interesting when he argued against the idea that teachers are "warm and human" and computers are not. He talked about other machines like the toaster or the bathtub as having the association of being warm, so why not a computer? It was an interesting idea, and it made me think. I can't say that I have had any experience where I would consider the computer warm.

In A Modest Proposal section on page 313 he talks about how to motivate students to take control of their own learning by encouraging them to use what he calls "ultra-rich environments" - which I think means hyperlinks that can lead the student deeper and deeper into his/her studies. He advocates a lot of free range, allowing the student to pursue that which the student finds interesting. He says this eliminates curriculum and tests.

The picture on 314 shows a sort of guided form of hyper-linking that could be used for instruction where the student gets to choose one of several listed possible links to get to where he/she needs to go. For example, if the student doesn't know anything about that subject, he/she would follow each link in order, but if a student does have some knowledge or is catching on quickly, he/she could skip down to another link.

Terms from Nelson

The Power of Design
His argument: "I believe computer screens can make people happier, smarter, and better able to cope with the copious problems
of tomorrow. But only if we do right, right now. " -317
"Why? The computer’s capability for branching among events, controlling exterior devices, controlling outside events, and
mediating in all other events, makes possible a new era of media." - 317
Nelson seems to be saying that we just need to recognize how machines can be used and improve their functionality for a more positive experience.

On 331 Nelson addresses some of what Krug is getting at in terms of the "Don't Make Me Think" concept. Nelson talks about how when you are using your computing system to do one kind of thinking and then you experience computer problems unrelated to that thinking, it's frustrating. Computer systems need to work simply and effectively to support the kind of complicated thinking and working you're doing. "Well-designed systems can make our mental tasks lighter and our achievements come faster."

Nelson uses Parenthesis in place of hyperlinks. On page 331 you see (see page 335) and you see (see page 317). That's a lot of page-turning back and forth, plus, when you do visit the suggested page, it's not easy to know what you're looking for or at. The connections are not clear on a first read-through.

Nelson's ideas for conventions and navigational tabs or editorial tabs (another Krug connection) are now common place tools.

Questions and Reflections about Nelson's text

| Notes from Hypertext Gardens

It was interesting to click around. I followed the Eastgate link almost right away. This looks like a fun place to come back to for a visit. It looks like it provides tools for writers who want to employ the hyperlink in their work. I tried reading The Trojan Girls, but was only able to get so far, then realized, I had to purchase the book if I wanted access to the whole thing,but the excerpt seems to show off a little bit of how "stretchtext" is used.

Bernstein introduces the fact that some disorientation is designed intentionally - upsetting the reader can sometimes break down barriers and make the reader more receptive to new ideas or problems.

I like how Bernstein is putting all that we learned from Krug into question. He tells us how these rules have come to be the rule of the day for web design and he critiques this method by calling it rigid and also costly.
He points out how traditional navigational tools signal the end of a task or closure to the user, stopping the thinking process. Mission accomplished, and the user will explore no further. Irregularity, Bernstein argues, can encourage that curiosity and does not need to be avoided as much as "they" say it should.

Parks = tamed wilderness; Gardens are planned, designed, created. Hypertext should contain both parks and gardens.
Highway = fast and efficient - not always best. Garden paths are sometimes longer, windy and scenic and enjoyable.
Detours = ways to provide the user a richer, better experience.
* Earlier in the piece, I found the shortcut. I clicked the link that took me to the 7 Lessons from Gardening. I read all 7, but when I got to the end, I saw the link saying, "In Conclusion." I realized I had found a shortcut, and if I read the conclusion, I would have missed some material in the middle, so I backed out (something Berstein and Krug agree is important for the user to know how to do). Later, I found myself back at this same link after taking the detour or the garden path.

I wondered how I would know if I got to the end of this piece. Honestly, I worried maybe there wouldn't be an end, and I would have to decide when I'd read enough or when to stop, but this garden did have boundaries, it did have an ending. I thought it was interesting to see how all of the links were listed at the very end in case a reader had missed one section of the garden.

I liked that Bernstein said sometimes the reader likes a wilderness and just wants to explore, but it's also good to have crafted spaces, boundaries and pathways set up, so the reader doesn't feel overwhelmed.

|Reading On Screen by Vandendorpe

Evolution of Reading

Oral (slaves reading to their masters)>Scrolls>Codex>Codex with illustrations>Printed Page>Extensive reading across multiple books>Screen>Hyptertext>print, audio, images, video are combined>portable screens>
*It's interesting to read V's commentary about how the original print to screen mimicked the ancient scrolls and PDFs are more akin to a codex... we are still working to make reading on screen more like reading a book.

Modes of Reading

  1. grazing (aka continuous reading)
  2. browsing
  3. hunting

Other Changes to text in the move from Print to Screen

Grazing is the one mode that hasn't translated well to computer screen reading, according to Vandendorpe,but he thinks with advances to technology, we could see a huge shift from people reading printed books to reading the e-book. I think we are already getting there with iPads, but I also still see many people reading books.

Literary Machines

Doug Englebart's theory of "Agumenting Human Intellect" was that humans needed better tools to enhance our thinking abilities. One of these ideas was a hypterlinked, collaborative system that Nelson compared to "thinkertoys", and I would say sounds much like the way Google is used today in the collaborative modes of Google Docs or Google Classroom.

Post Reading Reflection

It's interesting to think about how to use hyperlinks as a writer/designer and also about how to engage with hyperlinks as a reader/user. They are freeing and yet limiting too. It can be liberating to know that as a writer, I don't have to summarize or synthesize all the information; I can just link to it. But, on the other hand, when I'm writing, and I know I need to attribute a source, it can be cumbersome to have to include the link rather than a quick in-text citation. It's freeing to know as a reader, I can go any direction I want, follow a link or not, but it's also overwhelming because I feel compelled to have to follow every link. I don't want to miss out on what might be behind the next door. It's kind of addicting in that way, perhaps that's where the contradiction is at. Like an addiction, it's enjoyable and you like it and want more of it, but at the same time, you hate the hold it has on you.

Krug might argue for a more structured and systematic and predictable method for employing the hypertext, where Bersntein and some of the others we've read like to play around with the hyptertext and keep it mysterious.

|My Experiment as "Link Whore" on my blog - a blog post in hypertext

Notes on |The Jew's Daughter

This was another very challenging piece to read. I figured out how to navigate it pretty quickly. I recognized each blue word to be a link. I found the little icon on the top that allowed me to know which page I was on and how to return to an earlier page if I wanted to. I wasn't sure how to use that feature though - or what it was really there for.

I could not figure out a rhyme or reason or a pattern with the links though. Sometimes I thought I had figured out how to continue reading after clicking (or rather, scrolling over) a link for a more continuous story line or flow of thought, but then the next link would not work the same way. If there was a pattern, I never found it. Instead, I ended up re-reading certain passages several times depending on how the links changed the text. Sometimes I read carefully, other times I skimmed until I knew it was brand new material.
Moving so fluidly from page to page was interesting.

It was interesting to try and figure out who the narrator was. I thought it was a female narrator at one point, and then I read that the narrator had a beard, so I realized the narrator had either switched or I had been wrong all along. It was also interesting how, sometimes, when the link was clicked, it changed the dialogue from one character to another.

The piece was very difficult to make any sense of. I got snippets of story here and there, but wasn't able to piece together anything sustainable.

Page 134 was particularly odd with the typing that appears, forcing you to read along as the letters appear, forming words, erasing and reappearing??? I think. I am now having trouble getting the text to work, :(
|This nifty little Prezi reveals some info about Morrissey's piece and explains how Morrissey uses Ted Nelson's methods of "stretchtext" in this electronic poem.
|this article reveals parallels to T.S. Elliot, James Joyce and Homer in Morrissey's poem. I found this interesting; however, I've never actually read T.S. Elliot's The Waste Land or James Joyce's Ulysses. I have read Homer's The Odyssey. However, I would not probably have seen the similarities on my own.

Making Connections

| Notes on Halavais

Nature How the Hyperlink is Used Social Effects

|Notes from The Wave Girls

Wow! What an intensely engaging multi-media, multi-genre piece. The piece utilized so many of Nelson's techniques and then some. Nelson's stretchtext was applied to some of the images. When I would hover over an image, it would shift and change. Some of these images changed without me doing anything at all.

Some links opened up completely new windows. Sometimes I would land back at a page I had already read, but for the most part, if felt like endless possibilities. The listening portion I discovered was the strangest, I thought because by the time I got there, I had already read those sections, and the player popped up on my screen, blocking out most of the text and images, filling the space with the cold, machine-like, software of the wav player. This distanced me from the story. The text says to "close your eyes" and "listen," but it didn't just play the audible poem out loud fluidly. It felt like another force taking over. I'm not sure if this was intentional - it seems so because the technology is pretty advanced to put together all of the other pieces, so I'm not sure why the audio was presented in this mechanical way.

I felt I did more |grazing while reading this piece than I did with |The Jew's Daughter. Maybe because the links always took me to a new page (almost), or if it was the same page, it was a total repeat whereas in The Jew's Daughter, there could be partial repetition with some changes, so I had to read carefully to catch the subtle change.

Another contributing factor that made it more conducive for grazing was the consistency in voice and character and the way many of the pages were arranged by announcing a part of the setting in the first few lines - sort of like headings, I guess. |Here is one examples.| and here.

I did feel like I did some |hunting - but not so much while reading the words as in reading the images. I was hunting for links or things to click or hidden meaning in the images. I also hunted to see if this was the whole page - because sometimes I had to scroll down to get the whole thing. |Another time, I realized I had been plunked down in them middle of a page, and I had to scroll up!

I honestly don't know what to think about reading hypertext. I find it fascinating. I wish I understood how to create something like this because I think it would be really fun to play around with images and words and audio and form, but I do not have the computer science skills to pull such a thing off. Maybe one day my kids and I can collaborate on a project because they might learn how to do some of this stuff.

In connection to Krug, it's really fun to think about how these hypertext pieces make us think. If everything on the web followed Krug's rules, I think we would bore of the web pretty quickly. His rules seem suitable for consumerism when the task at hand is buying a package of LED light bulbs, but for any sort of engaging, thoughtful interaction with web content, going beyond Krug's rules seems critical. Not that these authors abandon all conventions - we still click or hover or scroll, click forward or backward, but there's much less predictability about what you're going to get. There is very little to identify the reader's location or navigational tools to let the reader know where he/she should go.

My preference was more for |These Waves of Girls than for |The Jew's Daughter and I think that's because, when exploring The Jew's Daughter, I felt lost. I knew I was in [[
the "hypertext garden," so I wasn't afraid I was lost, but I felt lost. I felt like I really had to try and solve some mysterious and elusive puzzle to unlock the secret garden. It was exhausting and stressful. But reading These Waves of Girls, I felt like I could spend as much time in the garden as I wanted, I could leave anytime, and I could come back and sort of pick up where I left off. I felt like there were hours of "grazing" to do here. It was more inviting and the puzzle-solving was more motivated by curiosity and not an anxiety-inducing need to make meaning.

|Notes from Radio Salience

I didn't spend more than twenty minutes on this piece - just wanted to get a feel for it and see whether I wanted to choose it for my presentation. I really thought it was interesting how it was set up like a game - a brief introduction, rules of play and a begin button. I read everything available to me prior to beginning. That's how I am. It can be a curse because I didn't remember the rules properly. I thought I was supposed to wait until all images fit together, so I waited a long time. Finally, I clicked, lost the game and read the rules again.

I had better luck playing the game the second time. It was fun to watch closely to find the matching images. I love puzzles, so this was fun. The text portions were harder to focus on because the automated narrator and the slow pace of the reading. Also, one time, the narrator's words did not match the written words at all - sending me in to confusion.

I really liked the way the creator manufactured the feeling of twisting a radio dial until you find something. It's a good audio metaphor for what's happening on screen - the images are blurry (the equivalent of static), they are changing, and you're just getting glimpses ("slices" they are referred to), just like you're hearing only snippets from each radio station. When you do land on text, it is similar to getting dropped into a live radio show because you still do not have the context of what came before to orient you to what is going on.

Sometimes I got a "game over, dude", but other times it just ended, and I wasn't sure why. Once I got a "fin," once a "goodbye, Jim." Sometimes I got the emergency siren.

I noticed that sometimes the narrative seemed to be a deconstructive analysis of the image. Sometimes it seemed a puzzle or riddle - like the text that went along with the clock, typewriter, box themed set. This narrative described the items from the point of view of someone who had never seen them before. Once I was only able to hear the narrative; there was no written text accompanying it. One was the emergency broadcast message. Once the narrator read much more slowly than the text was appearing.

Reflecting on Radio Salience

This piece used some known conventions like Krug would promote. It employed familiar game-like rules for matching, or jigsaw puzzles. The instructions for play were included. There were designated tabs for basic navigation. There was also a fair amount of "muddling through."

It is unlike Krug in that there is no real navigation - or control - in that I could not find a way to get back to a specific set of text or images. I could wait until I saw the image again, and this happened once. I saw the woman holding the ball multiple times. Her set seemed to show up more frequently than the others, but I got the same text each time I clicked.

Krug discourages "noise" meaning a cluttered web page with too much going on. In Radio Salience, actual, audible noise is employed as part of the delivery, but it interestingly quickly becomes white noise. Once in awhile, I would tune in to listen, but you know it's just giving you a snippet, and so it's not that distracting to the task at hand: finding matching images.

I was entertained by this concept for a brief time - then I lost interest. The thing with me is I am very practical. If I don't see the point in something, I can't stick with it long. I'm also not a computer gamer. I enjoy social games - board games with friends and family, but I'm not much of an independent gamer. So... I lost interest.

| Notes on A Large Argumentative Hypertext
* This looks interesting and more structured in a way that feels more familiar. I like that the author is comparing books to hypertext and examining the roles of reader and writer. This seems like both content I would like to read as well as a format that isn't too new and discombobulating.

I like the freedom the links provide... this piece is a maybe.

| Notes on The Knotted Line
When I first got to this site, I decided to watch one of the short introduction videos posted on the first page. The video got me very interested in the project. The way the narrator spoke about the project being an educational tool (a curriculum, really), awakened my educator's brain, and I thought perhaps this would be something I could adapt or use in my own classroom.

The project was explained as an interactive and participatory, digital curriculum that reveals a non-linear approach to history in a way that allows the students to see the interconnectedness of all of us across time and space. It seemed promising, but I opened up one of the units and began looking at how it was set up. The units were very prescriptive and thorough, so it would be extremely simple to integrate these lessons into the classroom. It's like lesson plans in a box; however, from the content, I wasn't sure it would be a good fit for my students.

My students are very skeptical of anything that hints at having an agenda. I think they would sniff out the agenda in this project right from the get-go, and even if they agreed with the content, they would resist it just because they don't want someone else telling them how to think.

This one is also a maybe...

How The Knotted Line is Interactive

  • you can move forward or backward across the timeline
  • it has a sort of "stretch text" feature that when you "pull" the line, you can reveal more of the image
  • red circles indicate "clickables" that open pop-up boxes of text providing historical facts or information. You can also click on these boxes to go deeper
  • tabs at the bottom allow the reader a more (or less) participatory role, as you can choose to answer discussion prompts or just read other people's responses. This feature allows you to look in or to engage.
  • when you click for more from a text box, it opens a new tab
  • the new tabs sometimes resemble hyperlinked e-textbook pages. There is a table of contents on the left, text in the center along with discussion questions or suggestions for further research, some videos on the right, etc... It reminded me of Wikipedia pages
  • it always seems to re-direct you or help you to navigate with little messages that pop up telling you how to reactivate the page or an explanation for why you might not be seeing what you thought you would see. User friendly in a way that I appreciated because I think the creators of this project truly want the user to be immersed in making meaning of the content and not hung up on how to use this non-traditional format.
  • the format provides a lot of freedom in that you can go where ever you want to, spend as much or as little time there as you want, click or not click, respond or passively read others responses... the user is given this control... yet somehow I can't shake the feeling that they are still controlling me. Like I said before, my students will sniff out an agenda and resist it. While this project is really doing some cool things experimentally, some of the fall back to traditional curriculum (the textbook pages, the discussion questions, even the table of content) make it feel "bookish" in a way that is not as inviting as I was hoping it would be.
This piece was interesting in that it was very appealing at first. I was excited about the possibilities it promised. I sat down with it a couple of times, each time, I allowed myself to go deeper into the timeline. I really wanted to embrace The Knotted Line because the concept was really cool, but I just couldn't quite feel at ease in the virtual space. I finally realized why that was while I was running on the treadmill at the gym listening to a podcast about addiction and recovery. The former addicts were discussing the myth that drinking or using made them free. Now on the recovery side of things, they understand what a hold these addictions had on them, and they are experiencing a whole new kind of freedom.

That discussion made me think about what the developers of The Knotted Line are attempting to do with this piece designed to educate 14-20something-year-olds. TKL wants to overturn the mythologies we've built around history and concepts revolving around freedom, power, and justice. They want a modern audience to see how we are connected to and impacted by historical events.

The message and the medium are important in this piece, but in my opinion, I'm not so sure it's working the most effectively. I am guessing the developers wanted to give the reader a sense of freedom to explore this space without any real instructions. They provide helps or hints for usage but not a road map so to speak. This freedom is exhilarating at first, but I quickly felt tricked by the system. Once I was in, I felt like I was back inside the same old educational system I know too well. One where there is a right answer, and I'm supposed to arrive at it - even though it might distract me or keep me slightly entertained with the sparkles, at the end of the day, the teacher is looking to indoctrinate me with a specific point of view.

I think this project or curriculum might work well with small groups with an individualized component - because surrounding students with a group of their peers might help them to see different viewpoints and be more open or secure about not conforming, but I just thought it was too agenda-driven to provide a truly "free" interactive experience.

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