WritingInTopics | Topical Writing


Bolter
[W]henever we write, we write topically. We conceive of our text as a set of verbal gestures, large and small. To write it to do things with topics - to add, delete, and arrange them. "Computer as Writing Space." Writing Space.

And Leuf and Cunningham write
Part of the appeal of Wiki might be a subconscious identificaion with the underlying characeristics of easily referencing, cross-linking, and associating concepts by name - the WikiWord title (323).

Writing on a wiki is linked topical writing. Writers have to create topics - named spaces in which to write - which are linked together or otherwise structured, and structured more ways than linear order. On a wiki, we don't write in just words, sentences, paragraph, parts, but collect those units into topics and arrange those topics in various ways. The topic - the node, the space, the lexia - that's created when a writer creates a WikiWord is not the same as any other unit of compostion.

Wikis foster | encourage | manage writing by topics. A wiki page is created by composing a WikiWord: a content-grounded rather an a too-clever-by-half term. Composing a term creates a place for composing the topic: a place for the notes, the discussion, the revisions...

There's a constant appending to the end, and a constant invention cycle going on.

But by "appending" I don't mean adding to the end. A look at ComposingProcesses? adapted for wikis tells us more: how topics develop, and how they append.

- which is, as Bolter would suggest, to write in topics.

In ascending order:

- although it's good to keep in mind that a topic could be a paragraph or a sentence. [A WikiWord (which is a word, and can be a sentence and even a paragraph) is the title of a topic.]

But a topic as we're talking about it is a writing space: like this one I'm writing in now:

It can have its own structure, point, manner of development

Complication - NamingTopics.

One powerful feature of wikis is the ease with which writers can create nodes and links: Jam two words together or somehow create an intercap, and you create both a new, named space to write in, already linked into the document, and ready to further link to. But this apparent ease conceals the overhead: writers have to do two things: they have to find a place to put the node, and they have to name the node before writing in it. This suggests that we know where we're going at the moment we start: a good place to be but often more wishful than accurate and possibly constraining. In the course of addressing the topic, the we might take an unexpected direction, which will demand, in turn, renaming the node and possibly changing the starting point.


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