The Last and Final Blog

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Well, the site homebrewzone.com does start with a homepage, which is pretty much mandatory for any sort of site structure. form there, the website really only has secondary web-pages that the homepage is linked to. I like o picture the website as a central page, with a circle of pages surrounding it, and that is what this website does.

Since it is a site that is fairly amateur, I don't think the lack of much depth within the site makes it deficient. It is not a site that you go to to become a professional brewer, just one for quick reference for the basic brewing needs.

All the pages allow for connecting to the rest of the pages, so the links are fairly well placed. The links could be organized a bit differently to create a more coherent site. I will be making categories labeled "Brewing for Beginners" Brewing for Experts" and "the brewing world" in order to organize the links. this will allow the user to kind of predict which link they will need to get the information they need and not have to bother with the rest of them.

The Technical Failures of Homebrezone.com

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One of the most perturbing aspects of Homebrewzone.com is the title in the upper left hand corner. It is just not quite big enough to emphasize that that is the name of the site and kind of leaves a flat taste in the mouth.

Also, the lack of a heading for the links on the left hand side of the page is also very frustrating. It confuses the reader, half of the links take you to a Google site, and the other half take you to other parts of the site. There definitely needs to be some form of a heading there.

The Glossary is one place where the lack of pictures is very frustrating. With more pictures inserted next to the definitions, a person would be better equipped to understand each item.

I do feel that the brew your own beer section is fairly well organized. Redish, at one point, does say to stay away from more than two headings, and I believe there are three headings on this page. But, I feel it works. It has the necessary information printed in bold and it stands out well compared to the rest of the text. One of the more redeeming qualities of the long paragraphs of instruction on this page is the fact that the important parts are highlighted.

A Revison of Homebrewzone.com

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I will be revising the website of Homebrewzone.com. Though the website is to out of control to completely fix, and with multiple other Homebrewing sites that are designed much better and in better repute (Craftbeer), I will still analyze the site's faults for the project.

The first problem is of course the welcoming page....it should be a homepage. It is cluttered and disjointed. It does have links to other parts of the site, on the left hand side, but these are right under the label "Ads by Google", which always makes me wary. The website name in the upper left hand corner could also be bigger in order to catch my attention, and an overall template that represents professionalism is missing from the site. Some of the smaller "How to Use" sections could be put into a section under a heading on the homepage in order to make the site more organized.

Another part of the page that I want to break down is the Glossary of Terms. This portion of the site seems well organized at first, with bold words and regular definitions, all in alignment, but it is missing ease. In order to get to a word I want to find out, I have to scroll all the way down the page. It would be much more useful to have an alphabetical quick link at the top to get to the letter section I want. Also, It would be helpful to include pictures with some of these definitions. Some of the tools described are not used outside of homebrewing and someone who is just starting may not be able to picture the tool just from the definition.

I also will be looking at the Brew your Own Beer section. I believe it would be much smarter to name this section something like "Getting Started" or "Brewing for Beginners", because that is exactly what it is for. It is also in the format of one long list. It would be much better for each step to be hyperlinked to a different page so the reader can grab and go. That way all the steps are listed right in front, above the fold, and ready to be clicked on when the time comes. The long list just makes it difficult to follow and easy to lose your place in, which is not good when brewing time comes around and you are knee high in wort and needing to add specific ingredients at specific times.

The Writing of Youtube and Podcasts

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I guess the most interesting aspect of the "Grammar Girl" Podcast's script was how it was organized. For the most part, the written script of the podcast followed exactly what the announcer said. Except for little idioms, and some "ahs" and ums", the script was dead on. But, what is different is the stylistics of the writing. Using the bold option to distinguish the myths from the rest of the paragraph is not something that you can hear in the podcast. The script is also advantages to the advertising portion of the show. When she talks about the sponsor on the podcast, I didn't really care to look at it, I was to lazy to type it out and figure out if I had the correct spelling. But, when the hyperlink is right in the script, I can simply click it and be there, making it easier for the consumer to see the advertisement, and thus, allowing for more effective advertising.

Now, writing for a video is a very different process because there is a necessity to synchronize the audio and visual. The script must be correctly timed to create a coherence between it and the visual. This will definitely effect the style of writing, causing descriptions or speeches to become shorter or longer depending on how long the video counterpart of it is. Obviously there is not a need to adhere to standard grammatical rules, the script is set up for timing and feeling. The most interesting aspect about the Regal Bricks Script is it's use of ellipses to emphasize that the announcer must make it sound mystical, or to allow for a deeper pause at that point in the script.

The video portion of the script, as can be seen in the hyperlinked script above, also does not follow standard grammar rules. It is abrupt and is simply there to describe the scene and point out aspects of style of the video portion. A simple list serves as a sentence, with no verb anywhere to be found.

Identifying the Horror of a Website

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At first I was very surprised that Redish's example of a horribly constructed website was one of the US government's. I would think that the government, especially a government sector as important as the Health and Human Services, would be a very well done Website. But, as is obvious, it was definitely poorly constructed. The thing that struck me the most was how unprofessional it originally looked. With all the dazzling logos on the bottom, it looked like some amateur website from the 90's. I would not have trusted the site as a place to get information about my deadly disease I have. The rainbow of colors is the one of the more off putting things about the logos. These colors distract from any color scheme that the website may have, and without a good color scheme, the website seems chaotic and slapdash, definitely not informative and trustworthy.

One site that has always aggravated me is the website of Democracy Now. It has angered me so much that I have completely given up on it. For this blog entry I was looking at some of my old bookmarked sites and stumbled upon this long forgotten site. After reading these chapters in Redish, I can now pinpoint two main features about the website that make me hate it. the first one is of course the massive essay that you are greeted with on the homepage. I don't think I have ever gotten past the first paragraph of it, and I really don't care too. as Redish points out, homepages should be based on providing links and short descriptions (37). this brings me to the second problem I have with the website, the links that it does provide are completely useless. I originally came to the site to receive the podcasts that they were apparently sending out. Upon looking at the site, you will see that none of the links even remotely help you with that quandary. Even the links that are available lead to very basic pages that don't really give you much information or much to do. I may have had higher hopes for the website when I first attempted surfing it. I may have assumed there would be plenty of information about civil liberties and news on the website, but there was none of it to be found. I still, to this day, am looking for those podcasts.

Reading on the Web

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I have just started an editorial internship where I will be typing up news articles online. These few articles have taught me a lot and I feel better suited now for the internship. The Inverted Pyramid idea has always been used for article writing. Always start with the brunt of the facts, most people only read that far, if they go farther they are given more detailed information.

I think that this demonstration brings into question "Technological Determinism". The whole idea that web reading will shape how we read is not necessarily true. People read only parts of articles and glossed over the rest a long time before the computer was ever invented. The existence of the inverted Pyramid style of writing proves that. But people expect certain writing styles in certain mediums. When someone sits down to read a newspaper, they expect to be told the basic facts of the story right away, reading a book someone will give more time to let the basic facts come out in order to have the story develop. So, Web writing is a certain medium that people will have certain expectation of style for. People will expect associative links and easily scannable features within the web.

This is why I question if E-books will really ever catch on. The book is a completely different type of writing style. Expectations of how digital writing should be might be too integrated in the mind to have the patience for an E-book, but I suppose only time will tell. The E-reader does create a new medium for the E-book, thus creating new expectations

The Visual

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The multimedia of the web does serve a very valuable purpose for the modern reader. Ever since Sassure's Course in General Linguistics, we have come to realize the ambiguity and interpretive subjectivity that is an inherent part of the word. Not everyone attaches the same signified concept to its signifier, everyone has slightly different boundaries in their mind as to what a word means. But, with the use of multiple forms of media, especially the use of visual media, a more direct meaning can be communicated.

Bolter points out that it is believed that pictures or moving pictures are thought of as having a "natural" connection to what they depict conceptually (58). It makes sense, what one sees happening in front of them is almost a direct representation. There is very little room for subjective interpretation. Of course, the viewer will still have subjective thoughts about it, but the subjectivity of meaning is much more controlled when it comes to pictures than text. so, buy using these pictures along side text, the "author" has the ability to control meaning within the text. This use of "the visual" allows what Bolter says is "a desire to curtail arbitrary symbol systems, such as alphabetic writing" (58). It is true that writing has its advantages, but its signs remain inherently ambiguous. So, with a little help from its communication friends, a creator has the ability to get a more direct message across, if that is their goal.

Technology and the Way we Think

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Contemplating his question I am Immediatly brought back to Bolter's observation between linear reading and associative reading. This type of reading, attributed to the use of hypertext, is definitely addressed in the article by Nicholas Carr, Is Google Making us Stupid?. The article addresses the fear that this type of associative reading is causing ADD like symptoms in our society's reading habits. Many of the people interviewed in the article find it impossible to read books anymore, they are to used to the quick linking ad sporadic nature of reading online. I'm not one to say that this is necessarily a negative thing, and in line with the technological determinist, I will say that it is nearly inevitable for humans to find themselves attracted to this type of quick associative thinking. But I don't believe that this type of thinking was created by our new use of the internet, as Bolter points out, it may be that associative thinking has always been the most natural way of thinking, and now we are coming to a new way of allowing our brains to do that.
But, to think that no one will read a book anymore is ridiculous in its own respects, but a few ideas must be addressed first that a few of the interviewers had in the article by Nicholas Carr. Bruce Friedman, a faculty member at the University of Michigan Medicine School, is quoted as saying "I can't read War and Peace anymore". This quote simplifies reading a novel way too much. First of all, War and Peace was never a leisure read in the first place. Even I, as an English Major, look at the book and shutter with fear that i may one day have to read it. Reading a book like that, or any novel like that is not easy, but when one sets there mind to it, it become something to be proud of, the reader gains a sense of accomplishment, has earned bragging rights. Of course your mind will wander during reading, every mind has, from the dawn of civilization to now. Its ideas from the book sparking other ideas in your head, it is your brain thinking associatively, its most natural way. But just because the internet provides an easy access to that way of thinking does not mean that people will quit reading books. I have never bragged to someone about flipping through Wikipedia pages, but I will certainly brag when I am done with John Steinbecks 600 page East of Eden. Maybe it is the linear way of thinking that is so alien to us, and if one is able to get through a tough novel, it demonstrates their ability to focus and maybe think in unnatural ways, but there is no doubt an associative element involved in linear reading. And maybe, just maybe, War and Peace isn't that interesting.

How Hypertext Refashions

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I think one of the most interesting points that Bolter brings about the use of Hypertext is how it refashions the way we think. He discusses the ideas of linear reading that are presented to the reader in the traditional forms of print (Novel, Essay...). But, with the advent of hypertext a new form of associative reading is being created. Bolter writes how hypertext is a reformatted form of text that creates a general network, such as the World Wide Web (34). Some argue that this type of associative reading is more natural to the human thought process.

This type of associative reading brought me back to the days of Choose Your Own Adventure novels. In a certain way, reading hypertext is similar to being allowed to choose your own adventure. The reader is allowed to choose their own path based on their own conscious decision. I won't go as far to say that these novels were the predecessors of the idea of hypertext, but Bolter does point out that certain aspects of Hypertext, such as hypermediation, can be traced back to modernist writers such as James Joyce (44).

The idea of Hypertext does coincide with many post-modern ideas of an over-abundance of information and the consequences of it. Bolter quotes one of the most renowned post-modern theorists, Frederic Jameson, early on in the book, immediately bringing about the association between the age of Late-capitalism (post-modernism) and the "late age of print" (3). Many attribute this associative reading style to be causing shorter attention spans. I don't remember the last time I read through a whole web-page. But it may just be that the human brain is simply more sporadic and wandering then we like to think, whichmay be why this associative reading has caught on so easily.

Citations

Bolter, David. Writing Space:Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print. Routledge; New York 2001.

Digital Native

According to the article, Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants , I am a "Digital Native". I barely remember a time when the internet did not start up with out the annoying dial tones, much less a life without internet. All of it comes natural. As I explain to my parents why we need to conserve space on are "C" hard drive, I really begin to realize how I am teaching a "Digital Immigrant" a new language. No doubt, my parents have adapted well, but they will always contain what Prensky calls an "accent". My dad bought an iphone 2 months ago and has yet to put it down, all the useless applications you can download have him amazed, especially the one that makes the shotgun sound. I remain unimpressed. To me, random sounds out of an iphone is nothing new, it was an inevitable progression, just a simple evolution of a constantly changing technology.

There are a few things that surprise me in the Pew's study, Writing, Technology, and Teens, but one of the most surprising is the fact that pen and paper is still used initially in school and personal writing. I have not cut out the pen and paper in my school writing, I do take notes and make outlines using that format. But, after those processes, the first draft is all on the computer. It was surprising to find out that many of the teenagers still used the pen and paper for rough drafts. there is a certain amount of personalization that is allowed with the pen and paper that is not allowed in the computer format. This can definitely account for the larger usage of pen and paper and the creative setting, but it can also account for the need for personalization in the school setting. When correcting a paper, physically printing out or writing the paper allows for a self-stylized form of editing, which can help with a more versatile progression of the paper.

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