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Apologies for the delay...

In reading Pemberton's article on consulting over hypertexts, I was initially confused. I will admit...I don't really know what he means by "hypertext". When I thought of the online consultations that take place in the writing center I assumed they would all be electronic versions of face-to-face consultations. It hadn't even occurred to me that people might bring in HTML and web design as pieces of writing, and something they wanted help on. Realistically, I don't see that happening too often, at least not in our Writing Center. But as Pemberton points out, technology is expanding and we should be ready to meet it's new challenges should they come along. I think it's a good idea to be prepared, but that we should also keep in mind that most assignments we see in the Writing Center will probably be the writing we are accustomed to working with.

In the case of this typical style of writing within the online consultations, I don't see a need to go into extensive training. While the process is different, these are still consultations, and the main goal remains to work with the client on their writing, regardless of how we are communicating. I don't feel that the way we converse with our clients will change vastly once we move to a computer, nor do I feel the writing will be significantly different simply because it was sent as an e-mail. The only change I see that may happen to a client's writing is that they will review it a little more carefully, perhaps, before sending it in. That seems like a positive thing to me. I agree with James Inman's statement, "Consultants' general knowledge about textuality and investment in asking questions, listening carefully, and other non-directive pedagogical approaches is all they need to help clients, I believe, no matter the nature of their visits to the writing center." That summarizes my own view: while the process of the consultation may be slightly altered, the online consultations have the same goal as the face-to-face variety. We all want to help our clients write better, and since we are the same people who consult face-to-face and on the computers, we use the same skills and strategies in both situations.

Looking over The Guidelines for SWS.online, I feel that there is a good balance of familiarizing ourselves with the technology used for the service and guidelines for using it. I don't think we should try and change the way we consult simply because we can't see our client. It is interesting to see how we do the online consultations here at our own writing center; I wonder how differently the consultations are done at other writing centers. Our procedures seem to be perfect for the situation, but I bet there are many different ways that online consultations are approached.

Comments

I think Meher's on to something when she comments on how often we might actually see hypertext documents. It seems another plane with fuzzier writing "rule" boundaries. I don't know...to me, it sounds a little bit like someone coming in with a draft for a roadsign...

I didn't really understand what "hypertext" meant either, so I looked it up:

Hypertext
is "a form of organizing text in computers that permits the linking of any place in text (or other media) to any other place and the rapid retrieval of information by following trails of these associative links." (Horn, 1989)

"Hypertext is a non-sequential form of composing and writing. It therefore provides choices for the reader as to how to navigate such text."

(http://faculty.washington.edu/krumme/projects/hyperbiblio.html)

After reading the general descriptions of hypertexts, I thought, "well, that sounds easy!"

So I attempted to scan over a hypertext story that I found online (http://www.waltersorrells.com/1.html)... and boy, did I get confused. It's basically a story within a story within a story within a story...Even the author of that story describes hypertext stories as "instead of going in a straight narrative line as you would in a printed novel (or, for that matter, an epic poem or a country and western ballad), a hypertext story just spreads out like oil on a pond."

We read lots of research papers, English papers, history papers, and application papers - but this is something new. If the use of hypertexts do increase in the future, maybe we should read/familiarize more with them. If not: we could at least ensure the clarity of each individual hypertext story.

i was kind of into the discussion of hypertext-- if only because the form presents a bit of a challenge to the types of narrative forms we're used to. it's probably true that (at least for now) we won't be running into a ton of these. maybe it's not so much a matter of extensive training for consultants (because, as people have noted we're probably more literate in hypertext formats than we think), but a matter of being aware that these types of texts don't adhere to the academic narrative conventions we expect. if we do end up consulting with someone doing such a project, we know not to assume that it should be structured like a traditional academic paper. beyond the practical everyday level, i think a big part of working as a consultant is staying abreast of different trends/changes/etc in discursive practices. blah, i don't think this makes sense. maybe i'm just trying to make this issue important because i think it's cool.

Sort of like a choose your own adventure book. Peter and I were just talking about these literally two minutes ago. I'm sure I'm not the only one who used to love the choose your own adventure Goosebumps? Point is, aside from the unique properties that come with a text meant for the internet, we're all familiar with this type of writing.

Miranda, I do think your point makes sense - because we are all a product of a technological society, I don't know if we remember to pay attention to the way it is shifting the definitions of many things - writing, etc. If we can take a moment - almost a mini version of the 45 minutes of private reading that SWS online tutors have - to not only figure out WHAT the assignment is but how it is being delivered, crafted, presented - maybe we can be of more help. I dunno - there's so much to try to get organized in those first few minutes of a consultation, or I feel the chance is often lost.

I'd be pretty thrilled if someone came in with some kind of crazy-ass hypertextual document. . . This reminds me a bit about when we were talking about the essay-writing structures in different cultures and the way they don't always follow our "straight line" style. Mixing it up is so much more fun. . .