| My Presentation about The Knotted Line

For the Presentation

Summary of | The Knotted Line

This piece is a collaborative work between writers, historians, artists, and technology geniuses intended to provide non-traditional curriculum on the themes of freedom and social justice. The project is designed for an audience of 14 - 20 somethings. It could be done independently or in a class setting. The creators describe it as interactive and participatory. They've presented a non-linear perspective to historical events, current events and future events; thereby mixing what we've considered "facts" with fiction. Their objective is to help participants see themselves in this bigger picture. 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 (and how we will impact future ones).

How it Works

  1. As an educator, they provide some |"lesson plans in a box" type of units of varying lengths to choose from. These units are very prescriptive and come complete with activities for the classroom as well as online.
  2. |The Timeline or THE KNOTTED LINE. This is the most approachable for the average visitor who is neither and educator nor a student

How The Knotted Line is Interactive

  • you can move forward or backward across |the timeline *Unlike Krug, this project does not use any structural hierarchy to identify what's more "important." Users are free in that way to explore. - Probably considered "hypermap" in Nelson's terms.
  • The Knotted Line is duplicated and placed up in the top right corner to assist with navigation - also a Krug concept to identify for the user "you are here, and you have these options" - only forward or backwards, and there is a beginning and an end.
  • it has a sort of "stretch text" (from Nelson) feature that when you "pull" the knotted line, you can reveal more of the image, but it only reveals so much - only what the creators determined you should see.
  • red circles indicate "clickables" that open pop-up boxes of text providing historical facts or information. These might be Nelson's "queriable illustrations". You can also click on these boxes to go deeper
  • tabs at the bottom (a Krug-like feature) 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 from the outside or to engage.
  • when you click for more from a text box, it opens a new tab - *Maybe like Nelson's "hypergrams" when the links are embedded in the artwork
  • the new tabs sometimes resemble hyperlinked |e-textbook pages. These textbook-like pages definitely fit Krug's concepts of categorization, structural hierarchy, headers, bullets, etc... |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. These little hints seemed to fit in with Krug's concepts as well.

Connections to Halavais

This project certainly relies heavily on the hyperlink for organization, and they make use of all of the ways the hyperlink can be used. On the homepage, the hyperlink is only used as a means of navigation - to transport the user to another page, but once you've been transported, the link shows up in multiple ways and with multiple purposes. Links to a photograph, links to a company, to an article, to a video...

I think this is where it is useful to understand the distinction between hyperlinks. When I see a source is linked, if I recognize it as a source, I know I don't really have to click on that one unless I'm really interested in looking at that source for myself. The other links (the hypertext or the video link) are the ones that will send me a little deeper down the path I'm on.


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.

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, and the creators have used a balance of Krug's usability rules, and Nelson's creative ideas to give the user that initial feeling of control and security... yet somehow I can't shake the feeling that they are still controlling me. 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.

The message and the medium are important in this piece, but in my opinion, I'm not so sure the medium is 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 sparkly techie tools, at the end of the day, the teacher is looking to indoctrinate me with a specific point of view.

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 or what conclusion they are supposed to arrive at. So, while I liked that the creators were attempting to help us approach learning in a new way by shaking up what reading and studying looks like, their attempts to engage students in critical thinking felt very leading.

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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