READINGS

Yale Web Style Guide, Ch 1, 3, 4, 5
http://webstyleguide.com/wsg3/index.html


BLOG POST 10: REVISED BLOG POST

Comment on the information architecture of the site you have chosen. Are there places where the organization and layering could be improved?


RESPONSE

According to the Yale Web Style Guide, there are a few basic steps to help organize your websites information. The Style Guide says to "inventory your content: What do you have already? What do you need?"

Just looking at Video Sonic Labs homepage I can tell they did not properly inventory their content. Much of the information is duplicated. The navigation tabs appear at the top and at the bottom. The phone numbers and locations of their two stores appear in the right hand column and twice at the bottom. Also there is much content that is missing from their home page. For instance a description of at least some information about what the company actually does. [see image in blog8]

The Yale Web Style Guide also suggests to "establish a hierarchical outline of your content and create a controlled vocabulary so the major content, site structure, and navigation elements are always identified consistently."

The three main pages on Video Sonic Labs website are not at all structured the same. Each page has a different layout, and a new location for contact information and advertisements. I feel I have to scan over the whole page just to understand what the pages function is.

Even worse, the "Online Store" page changes what the navigation tabs say, and dosent offer a way back to the home page! It also doesn't offer any hierarchy on products, it just lists random groups of links in the form of the original navigation tab, and the same exact links again along the side. [see image in blog9]

The Yale Web Style Guide describes Chunking as a way to help organize this type of mess. It says that "chunking can help organize and present information in a modular layout that is consistent throughout the site. This allows users not only to apply past experience with a site to future searches and explorations but also to predict how an unfamiliar section of a web site will be organized."
Wow! This is exactly what Video Sonic Lab needs to do to help visitors grab and go.
The Yale Web Style Guide says that "concise chunks of information are better suited to the computer screen, which provides a limited view of long documents. Long web pages tend to disorient readers; they require users to scroll long distances and to remember what has scrolled off-screen."
This is exactly how I feel when I visit Video Sonic Labs "Online Store." When I click on a product category, I have to scroll to the right and down just to view the few options. By this time I may have forgot what category I am in, or would like to reference back to the other options.


In Information Anxiety (1989), Richard Saul Wurman posits that there are five fundamental ways to organize information: the "five hat racks" on which you can hang information (Category, Time, Location, Alphabetic, and Continuum).

These "hat racks" would be useful to help organize the so called 'categories' that Video Sonic Lab has created for their online store. I would suggest to use just one "hat rack" for each location that they want the user to navigate through. For example, if they wanted to continue to have the vertical and horizontal stretches of links to navigate through their online store, they should use one "hat rack" for each "chunk." I would probably suggest something like; alphabetic along the top (horizontal bar), and categorical along the left (vertical column), but I would regroup, reword and adjust the font for the column.

Video Sonic Lab uses neither a "hub-and-spoke structure" or a "hierarchical" site structure. Six of the seven navigation tabs lead to pages that can link back to the home page. However, as mentioned above, one of the most important pages, the "Online Store Page" does not link back to the homepage. Instead a whole new window opens, with a whole new color scheme and design layout. As noted in the Yale Web Style Guide; "The success of the organization of your web site will be determined largely by how well your site's information architecture matches your users' expectations."

READINGS

Redish, Letting Go of the Words, Ch 10, 11, 12

"WireFrame Your Site"
http://articles.sitepoint.com/article/wire-frame-your-site

Yale Web Style Guide, Ch 3, "Information Architecture"
http://webstyleguide.com/wsg3/index.html


Comment on your web site of choice for the final project and on the use of headings, illustrations, and link names in your web site of choice. Refer to Redish where relevant.


("Online Store" page zoomed out)
sercices zoomed out.jpg

("Online Store" page initial view)
video sonic lab pic.jpg

http://shop.videosoniclab.ihoststudio.com/default.aspx?categoryid=0


RESPONSE

Video Sonic Lab does not do a good job when it comes to utilizing Pictures, Headings, or Links.

Janice Redish suggests that using illustrations effectively is critical. She says; you shouldn't "make people wonder what or why, you shouldn't choose images that are too small or too large, and you shouldn't annoy people with blinking, rolling, waving, or wandering text or pictures" (Redish 290).

Video Sonic Lab does all of the above.
First they use pictures in ways that confuses the visitor. Once the user clicks on the "Online Store" tab, not only do they have to scroll down and right to see the rest of the page, they have to try and make sense of meaningless graphics without text or linking them anywhere. They show a picture of a dog, a projector, a couple on a couch, and some diagrams to something that looks technical. The images are small and when you try to zoom in using the web browser the images are fuzzy. (See the image above to see a zoomed out view of Video Sonic Lab's Online Store page)

Also on this page is a list of categories. They list them by literally saying "Categories," then listing them below. Some of the categories are in all capitals, but their correlation is unclear. Some of them are long and take up two lines, but have the same line leading as the categories that are one line. This makes the categories very hard to read because it is hard to see where one category ends and the next begins. Also some of the categories are similar. Here they could have used level two headings, used better leading between lines of text, and maybe reworded the categories to exploit the power of parallelism (See the image above for the initial view of Video Sonic Lab's Online Store page. Note how the cut off images on the right distract your attention)

Janice Redish also suggests that breaking up your text with headings is critical. She says that "Good headings help readers in many ways" -Getting them interested, helping them get a quick overview of what is on the page, setting the context for each section, helping them make sense of what follows, and facilitates scanning so that they can find the section they need by separating sections (Redish 258).

Video Sonic Lab does not do a good job following these guidelines.
Their home page feels as if it lacks in guidance. I believe it is because they don't do a good job structuring the information in separate sections. If they only included some simple headings it would be easier to get what you need. When someone first enters the site, their attention is drawn towards the left, to nine bubbles with one to three words each. None of the bubbles link to anything, they don't correlate with each other, and they confuse the reader on their objectives. Even worse two of them, when clicked on, attempt to open a Word document. This is not only time consuming and dangerous to the computers health, but it does not link the content to the internet from a search engine.

Video Sonic Labs home page also lacks in explaining to the visitor what it is the site is actually about. I found myself asking questions about what they are trying to sell. One thing Janice Redish suggested was to use these questions as the actual headings. Instead of 'service,' they could have put 'what we do.'

Website Redesign Ideas: videosoniclab.com [blog8]

| 1 Comment

READINGS

Redish, Letting Go of the Words, Ch 5, 6, 7, 8

Yale Web Style Guide, Ch 8 and Ch 9
http://webstyleguide.com/wsg3/index.html


QUESTION

Write about your web site of choice for the final project. Select three separate pages from the web site and tell us what you think you might want to revise. Refer to Redish chapters and Yale Style Guide where relevant.


RESPONSE

Videosoniclab.com is a website for a business that deals with installation and service of technical devices like computers, televisions and stereo systems. Their website is poorly designed and is not easy to use. This is terrible because the audience that would most likely be using their services is the non-tech-savvy group of people that would benefit from an easy to use website.

video sonic 1.jpg
http://www.videosoniclab.com/index.html

The above image is Video Sonic Labs home page. The title is not obvious and is not associated with the tag line that is divided by the navigation strip. Instead the phrase "This is What We Do Best" is first noticed due to the high level of contrast between the text white text bubble and black background. Janice Redish explains that "the best combination for contrast and legibility is black type on a white or very light background" (Redish 154). Because the title of the website is yellow on a blue background, the blue text on a white background provides more contrast and is the first to be noticed.

Overall the entire website needs to be checked for spelling and grammatical errors. Immediately to the right of the title VideoSonicLab.com is the phrase "high excellence in service." Because this phrase is bigger and bolder than the websites tag line beneath the title, it is probably what the visitor immediately reads after the title. The phrase "high excellence in service" not only doesn't make sense, but confuses the visitor about what the site has to offer.

They also don't offer a search box. VideoSonicLab.com. has a small box in the upper right that shows the current date. This box is bright white in contrast against a black background. It gives the impression that it is a search box, by its high position and color. Janice Redish notes that "people have come to expect that the Search Box bill be either at the top right (where VideoSonicLab.com posts the current date) or at the left at the top of the left navigation column. Those are both good places" (Redish 43).

The phrase "You Can Request A Home Service On-Line" bothers be because of three reasons. It does not link anywhere. Why doesn't it go to the page where you can request a home service? It doesn't seem to use proper capitalization ("A" should be "a"). The Yale Style Guide suggests to use "down-style typing (capitalize only the first word and any proper nouns) for your headlines, subheads, and text" (Yale Style Guide). And shouldn't "On-Line" be spelled "online"?
_____________________________________________________________________


vidsonic2.jpg
http://shop.videosoniclab.ihoststudio.com/default.aspx?categoryid=0

When you click on the "Online Store" tab on the home page, a new window opens with a completely different layout (above image). It not only does not display the important content above the 'fold' but it forces the visitor to scroll to the right. Some things are listed in all capitals, but don't seem to have a reason why. There is no breakdown of item categories. Instead they are laid out in a navigation live horizontal bar stretching well beyond the scope of the screen. Also the pictures that are scattered outside the 'fold' do not make sense or link to anything. When you do eventually click on a topic, for example "PROFESSIONAL MICROPHONES," another screen opens for you to select the brand. In this case there is only one, so it feels like an extra step. If I were designing this page I would show all available items in the categories, and then somehow allow the user to filter the search.
_____________________________________________________________________


vid sonic 3.jpg
http://www.videosoniclab.com/Services.html

The last page I looked at was the "Services" tab (above image). I wanted to actually find out what the company does because it was never quite clear in the initial pages. Again the layout is different. It looks similar to the home page but reversed. If I were to redesign this website I would try and keep it as consistent as possible to avoid confusing the visitor.

Like the home page, this page is just as wild with its color scheme. Nothing seems to flow together because it is all so bold and different. The two paragraphs of text seem bland and to overwhelming to read. Contributing to the overwhelming feeling is the titles first line "SIGNATURE Service SOLUTIONS for HOSPITALITY,HEALTHCARE & Consumer Electronics" . It is bold, underlined, capitalized, and italicized, and pink! Redish and the Yale Stile Gide both clearly state that only subtle changes need to take place to emphasize a heading or title. This sentence is so overwhelming, especially because of the randomly capitalized letters, that it makes the text really hard to read. The paragraphs in general need to be revised and reworded, and possibly follow the reverse pyramid scheme, to allow for an easier read.
______________________________________________________________________

Video and/or Audio and/or Text [blog7]

| 1 Comment

READINGS
"The YouTube Phenomenon" PCMag.com
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2010334,00.asp


Grammar Girl http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/


Sample Video Scripts http://www.mindspring.com/~mmm/example.html


QUESTION
How do YouTube and Podcasts change our understanding of "writing" on the web? How is writing different for video? Include a link in your blog entry.


REPLY
YouTube and Podcasts are two popular ways to share information with the world. They not only allow the user to display any graphics they wish, but it can also include audio to help reinforce the experience.

YouTube is one video sharing site that allows anyone to post videos for others to view. John Dvorak, a columnist for PCMag.com, says "what makes YouTube a hit is its ability to transcode anything and produce an easy-to-watch and easy-to-embed streaming flash movie. You simply upload a video you made on a digital camera or camcorder, and YouTube's computers turn it into a flash video" (PCMAg.com).

YouTube allows for the ability to demonstrate and explain things, as they happen, on the computer screen. One good example of how YouTube can be seen as a tool can be seen in the many SketchUp (3D modeling software) tutorials that people have posted. YouTube allows the viewer to sit back, and let the video do all the work. No more skimming pages for information.

However, this ease of use comes with disadvantages. If the information is not digital text, how can we search for key words? In some cases, we are forced to sit through the entire video to get to the facts we need. No more skimming for information. No more hypertext. The creator has the ultimate control over the experience.

An intermediate between the static YouTube video and the searchable text is the Podcast. Some Podcasts have transcripts that allow the user to follow along as they listen. This allows the viewer a bit more control over the situation. They can quickly skim over the information to make sure it has desirable content, or follow along to reinforce the learning process.

With choosing what format best handles the content, the question to ask is, audio and video, or audio and text? It completely depends on content. With the SketchUp YouTube tutorials, video with audio commentary is the most reasonable because the goal of the video is to show the user how to do something physically. In other words, the SketchUp tutorial would not have been so helpful if the audio had to do all the work describing what was happening. And Grammar Girl, making the transcript available to accompany the audio, would not have been so useful if it were a video because none of the information she provided was graphically oriented.

YouTube and Podcasts are great tools for getting information across the internet. They have the ability to help us in ways that standard text cannot. They make us think of the type of content we want to discuss and how that information should be shared. In a way, YouTube and Podcasts are adding a whole new dimension to web writing.

AFTERTHOUGHT
How heavily do these easy to use writing implements affect what we say and how we say it? Are they becoming so big and so influential that they are forever changing the rules? John Dvorak mentions that "there are many complaints of people posting copyrighted material on YouTube, but that hasn't shut it down. If a company such as NBC actually managed to shut down YouTube, the backlash would be so severe that NBC would likely be forced out of business--that's how big YouTube has become" (PCMAg.com).

Critiquing a Home Page [blog6]

| 1 Comment
READINGS: Redish [Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4], Janice (Ginny). Letting Go of the Words Writing Web Content that Works (Interactive Technologies) (Interactive Technologies). Greensboro: Morgan Kaufmann, 2007. Print.


QUESTION:
Comment on the Case Study on page 46 of Redish regarding home pages and path pages. Share (link to) an example of a home page that suffers from similar problems.


ANSWER:
The biggest thing that bothers me about the case study (Redish 46) is that it doesn't have a search bar on the main page. It has a drop down tab instead. I know I would be one of those people that try to enter a search topic in its drop down tab. The logos also cloud my attention to the real content.

Another hard to navigate website is VideoSonicLab.com. They also don't offer a search box. VideoSonicLab.com. has a small box in the upper right that shows the current date. This box is bright white in contrast against a black background. It gives the impression that it is a search box, by its high position and color. Janice Redish notes that "people have come to expect that the Search Box bill be either at the top right (where VideoSonicLab.com posts the current date) or at the left at the top of the left navigation column. Those are both good places" (Redish 43).

Immediately to the right of the title VideoSonicLab.com is the phrase "high excellence in service." Because this phrase is bigger and bolder than the websites tag line beneath the title, it is what the visitor immediately sees after the title. The phrase "high excellence in service" not only doesn't make sense, but confuses the visitor about what the site has to offer.

VideoSonicLab.com does not have a very pleasing color scheme. They do not use colors to their advantage. Everything is colored so boldly that it all has the same amount of eye catching attention. Thus it all blends together. They could have used color as a writing tool to help guide the visitors eye. Instead some things on the site that should demand more attention blend with other not so important things. For example the categories of repairs and installations on the left are the same bright white bubbles as non-hyperlink facts in the middle.

Overall the general disorganization and grammatical errors lead me to question the sites trustworthiness, similar to the IRS's 2001 tabloid-like home page that raised issues of credibility (Redish 32).


Photobucket
http://www.videosoniclab.com

Easy-to-Use Writing Implement: The Word Processor

[Introduction]

"Writing may be one of the most important discoveries in human history. But it was easy-to-use writing implements--including the pencil, pen and brush--that made mass education and literacy possible" (Forbes.com). A recent study by Forbes.com readers, editors and a panel of experts, suggests that the pencil is the fourth most important tool of all time, trailing behind the knife, abacus, and compass (Forbes.com). No doubt the pencil has changes the way we live, work, and think. Its ability to allow us to erase and redo what we record on paper has forever changed the way people write. Like the pencil, the digital word processor has also contributed to the possibilities of editing and recording words. Word processing applications have allowed for full and speedy control over text. But are the advantages worth creating possible long term consequences?

[A Students Definition of Writing]

I believe that writing is defined as a means to communicate or express thoughts and ideas through letters or characters that constitute readable matter. I don't think the general definition has ever changed, however I do believe that we have expanded on the categories of writing. Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project recently concluded that "even though teens are heavily embedded in a tech-rich world, they do not believe that communication over the internet or text messaging is writing" (Writing, Technology and Teens). In a way, I agree with those teens. I feel like the general term "writing" is non-specific, and currently implies some degree of formality. I agree with Marc Prensky in his essay titled "Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants" that new methods are needed to educate the students of the "digital generation" (Prensky). New methods of teaching the writing curriculum need to be implemented with respect to changing technologies. Or we at least need to make up new terms if the word "writing" is to imply formality.

[History of Easy-to-Use Writing Implements]

For hundreds of years pens and brushes dominated the writing world. But in 1564, a huge cache of graphite was discovered in Borrowdale, England. Local residents used the graphite to mark their sheep, and soon discovered that they could cut it into sticks and carry it with them to write with. In 1770, Edward Naime, an English engineer, created and began selling the first rubber erasers (Forbes.com). People soon realized the benefit of having both pencil and eraser and the two were joined. From here on, people had the ability to reuse paper. That is if they made a mistake they didn't have to start all over on a clean sheet.

The computer word processor simply builds off of the idea of the pencil and eraser; changing things around and fixing mistakes without having to start from the beginning. A word processor, or word processing program, does exactly what it sounds like. It processes words. It also processes paragraphs, pages, and entire papers.

The first word processors were basically computerized typewriters, which pretty much only placed characters on a screen. Modern word processing programs integrate advanced features to allow the user to customize and organize the text using visual cues. This type of organizational progression, from little or no options, to flexible and many, can be seen to parallel the ways that scribes in the Carolingian period began to use "different script (unicial) to indicate titles and demarcate sections. By the 13th century, scribes had developed a number of visual cues to help the reader locate text and keep his orientation" (Bolter 66).

[The Benefits of the Word Processor and its Materiality]

One example of a word processing program is Microsoft Word. "Word" as most call it, is the most common word processor used today. Word has many options for including visual cues; you can add headers, footers, and have numbers be automatically included on each pace. There are page layout options so you can organize the entire document at once, table options to organize information and bullet point styles to generate lists. Word also allows the user to save and comeback to the document at a later time. Like filing a paper document, Microsoft Word allows the user to save the document electronically. It does not take up space in your file cabinet, yet it is still stored some place special. One could think of the blank Microsoft Word document as a clean space, a fresh canvas, or an empty file. I like to imagine the blank digital "page" as a fresh piece of paper that can be molded to express my ideas through text and visual cues.

When some digital immigrants look at a computer keyboard they see letters, I see words. I get so absorbed in the Word document that I forget about what's in between my thoughts and my digital space. An idea floats from my brain, through my arms, and out my fingertips. Some people don't even get the chance to see the magic transcend from finger tip to button because they have grown so efficient at typing that they no longer have to look at the keys. From the keyboard the information is passed to the computer. It is bounced around a bit, through the motherboard, hard drive, and processor, and then it is sent out the video card, though the monitor cable, and displayed perfectly on your computer screen; and all that in only a few milliseconds time. Add speed to all of the other word processing advantages and I believe that you have the new "fourth most important tool of all time."

I myself rely on word processors. When starting a Word document I feel I have to first form an outline-like format to begin. I have to break down my thought so I can visualize how I need to approach my topic. I would say that I take full advantage of skipping through the different sections of my outline, slowly filling in text, cutting and pasting here and there.

I completely agree with David Bolter in his book Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print, that with a word processor, writers have more freedom to change things around. Bolter says that "by defining topical symbols (in a word processor), such as headings in an outline, the writer can, like the programmer or the mathematician, abstract herself temporarily from the details of the prose. The value of this abstraction lies in seeing more clearly the structural skeleton of the text" (Bolter 30).

I have to admit, I wouldn't know what to do if had to write this paper out by hand. Maybe I would start with post cards to try and organize my thoughts similar to what I would do with a digital outline. I remember trying to write papers by hand, before word processors were available in schools. This leads me to the question; am I a digital immigrant? I feel as if I am well familiar with technology, but I also like to take hand written notes and read from hard copy texts. Was it those few years in grade school, where I was writing and researching by hand that imprinted my brain and left me with an immigrant-like accent? I barely remember those years yet I still feel like my subconscious influences my learning. If I need to take notes by hand, yet rely on a word processor to write papers, am I the ultimate proof for how new technology changes how the brain works?

[How the Word Processor Affects Us - Technological Determinism]

The word processor has defiantly changed the way I think about writing. Not only do I rely on it to write papers, but it has completely redefined the way I write. Not only can I slowly work on content and structure, but I don't have to worry about spelling or punctuation anymore either. I simply type my thoughts and review later with spell check. However convenient this spell checker may be, I believe that it has turned me helpless without it. By simply right clicking on the highlighted-misspelled word, I can pick what I believe to be the correct spelling, the most likely spelling being the first choice on the list. I feel as if this easy method has hindered my ability to learn correct spelling. Until time and efficiency becomes so important that I simply must learn a word's correct spelling, I see no urgency to learn the word. This sounds naive, but with spell check being so available on most devices, even on cell phones for text messaging, when really do I not have the crutch? All of my school assignments are electronic, and rarely do I hand write notes to people. Come to think of it, really the only time I regret not being a good speller is when I am hand writing essays for school. It's funny because I know which words I can't spell and must avoid because I recognize them from right clicking on them in Word, but I can't remember how it's actually spelled. I wonder, if instead of right clicking on the correct spelling to change the word, would I learn the word better if I right clicked to see the correct spelling, and then corrected it manually myself?

I sometimes wonder if the makers of Microsoft Word anticipated such effects from their product. Poor spelling associated with ease of correction is just one consequence I have come to realize. I wonder; how else am I affected by word processors? I feel as if we all might be victims of the word processing "Frankenstein Syndrome." Daniel Chandler mentions this theory and associates it with technical autonomy; "after a machine is built (for a specific purpose), we discover that it has its own ideas; that it is quite capable not only of changing our habits but... of changing our habits of mind" (Chandler).

I can't help but wonder what will Microsoft think of next to "make our lives easier"? Will spell-check advance one day to do the learning for us? Will it soon remember words we misspell and automatically replace the misspelled word with the one we were most likely to choose from the correct spelling options? I personally would like to see Microsoft Word feature the option of generating a list of words that I commonly misspell while using the program.

[Conclusion]

So where is word processing taking us? Are we different human beings because of it? If we are always updating and changing it to work harder for us, how is it changing us? Sure word processing applications have come a long way, but they aren't done evolving yet. There is always something that could be done to make our lives easier (or maybe worse), to allow Microsoft to sell a newer-better version of their easy-to-use writing implement.


[Works Cited]

Bolter, David. Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2001. Print.

Chandler, Daniel. "Technological Determinism: Technological Autonomy." Prifysgol Aberystwyth / Aberystwyth University. Web. 12 Feb. 2010

"No. 4 The Pencil - Forbes.com." Forbes.com - Business News, Financial News, Stock Market Analysis, Technology & Global Headline News. Web. 12 Feb. 2010.

Prensky, Marc. "Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants." Twitchspeed.com. Web. 17 Feb. 2010.

"Word Processor Definition." The Tech Terms Computer Dictionary. Web. 12 Feb. 2010.

"Writing, Technology and Teens | Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project." Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. Web. 12 Feb. 2010.

Why we are non-linear readers [blog5]

| 1 Comment

READINGS:

Nielsen, Reading on the Web, http://www.useit.com/alertbox/9710a.html
Nielsen, Information Foraging, http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20030630.html
Nielsen, Eye Tracking, http://www.useit.com/alertbox/reading_pattern.html


Photobucket
(http://guncarryinglibrarian.files.wordpress.com)


QUESTION:

Are you a "linear" or "non-linear" reader? How does your experience compare with readings for this week?


ANSWER:

"To say that Web users behave like wild beasts in the jungle sounds like a joke, but there's substantial data to support this claim" says Dr. Jakob Nielsen, in his Usable Information Technology (useit.com) 2003 newsleter. He says, "humans are under less evolutionary pressure to improve their Web use, but basic laziness is a human characteristic that might be survival-related (don't exert yourself unless you have to). In any case, people like to get maximum benefit for minimum effort. That's what makes information foraging a useful tool for analyzing online media" (Information Foraging).

I am a non-linear reader. I often find myself foraging for information on the web, skimming through web pages to find my catch.

I like to use Google's search engine to get fast results. I type in key words, select an article from the list, and then gracefully skim through the material. If I happen to land on an article that is not a friendly read (big blocks of text), I may pass on the read or I might use the CTRL+F find-it hot-key to find what I am looking for.

I often am easily board with most readings. If the structure is not perfectly planed to keep my interests high I move on to the next hit. Since I am a scanner, I like the information to be laid out in a way that helps me navigate through the information. I often scan across and down a web page in the common "F" shaped pattern (F Pattern Eye Tracking). If the read does not get to the point or grasp my attention quickly enough I might also move on.

I like the inverted pyramid style, of starting with the overall summary to direct the body of the text, and I find it to be most helpful. It allows me to direct my attention to what matters, instead of trying to think about where the reading might be going. This structure is good for most things, but sometimes it does not include information that could be useful to me, and I thoughtlessly skip over helpful information.

I like an easy read. I dont like made up words. I like neutral language rather than subjective. I dont like to "spend resources on filtering out the hyperbole to get at the facts" (Reading on the Web).


AFTERTHOUGHT:

Is this blogs organization helpful? Do you consider it to be concise and "scannable"? Do indentations, big words, italics, underlined words and bold text make it easier to read? Does it benefit to have a "clear" title versus a "clever" title? Does it help to read the summary of the paragraph in the first sentence instead of the last? [Statistically this is the least read sentence in this blog entry]
(F Pattern Eye Tracking).

:-) confusion [blog4]

| 3 Comments

Photobucket

READINGS:
Bolter, Chapters 4, 5

QUESTION:
Why is the "visual" so important to digital writing? Reflect on your experience with visual elements and the internet. Refer to Bolter where relevant.

ANSWER:
I believe that the visual aspect of digital writing is just another enhancement at 'perfecting' the ways we express meaning. Just as the medieval cathedral displayed beautiful ornate religious scenes to express spiritual beliefs and evoke transcendence, digital media "provides an appropriate visual experience and through that experience dictates an appropriate reaction to the stories being told" (Bolter, 51).

I personally believe that we would be better off if all of our styles of writing were more like the Egyptians. Bolter says that "Egyptian writing could blend smoothly with illustrative images both visually and conceptually" (Bolter, 64). I think that we are slowly incorporating Egyptian-like concepts into our current writing style. Bolter notes the use of arranging ASCII characters to form iconic faces. "For example, the sequence :-) represents a smiling face and adds some ironic nuance to the previous sentence or paragraph" (Bolter, 72).

This type of writing, which is an anti-ekphrasis like way to express meaning, effects the way I write and think about writing. Just this morning when I was writing an e-mail to my professor I had a brief urge to include an informal character face to express my feelings. What is this new dual personality, formal verses informal, writing situation we are all in? Not only is it confusing to shift between the mentality of the two styles, it alters the way we approach writing. While re-writing my e-mail in a 'formal' fashion, I mentally developed the urge to express how I felt. I turned a two sentence e-mail into a paragraph of unimportant chatter about emotions. If one little smiley face caused me to spend thirty minutes rewriting what turned out to be two sentences, how else am I affected by the visual aspect of digital writing?!

AFTERTHOUGHT:
Why did I include the images at the heading of this blog? I guess I feel as if they visually help me distinguish one blog from the next... Also they provide a way for me to visually try and link the Sumerian and Egyptian writing with that of the medieval manuscripts. Are my digital images a way for me to organize information similar to the medieval scribes using different fonts and letter sizes?

Technology as a 'Primemover' in History [blog3]

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READINGS:

Chandler, D. (2002) Technological or Media Determinism.
http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/tecdet/tecdet.html

Turkle, S. (2007). "Can You Hear Me Now?"
http://www.forbes.com/free_forbes/2007/0507/176.html

Carr, N. (2008). "Is Google Making Us Stupid?"
http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200807/google

QUESTION:

Do you think technology drives/determines the way we think, read, and communicate? Refer to any of the readings for this week. Include at least one hyperlink.

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Do you sometimes find yourself unable to read long texts or stay focused on a single task? It could be from surfing the internet. Skiping around for information all over the world at the whim of your index finger could actualy be doing you more harm than good...
(Carr, N. (2008). "Is Google Making Us Stupid?")


Super Bowl XLIV Google commercial-

Technology does in fact change the way we, think, read, and communicate; technology changes everything. I think he question to ask is; will technology put us on a learning curve that will someday need to be broken? In Nicholas Carr's essay, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" he writes about the side effects of the internet search engine. Carr says that Google's modo is that the notion "...our minds should operate as high-speed data-processing machines is not only built into the workings of the Internet, it is the network's reigning business model as well." I'm not so sure I would want a top Fortune 500 company changing my brain-activity if all they are in it for is the money. I doubt the company has researcher's investigating the search phenomenon. How exactly does this new technology affect the brain, and how can we prove it?

We have only begun to document the effects of internet surfing. In the essays above there are many examples of people experiencing changes in their thinking patterns. From not being able to concentrate on lengthy texts, to thinking in a "staccato" like random style, and feeling like they are being "put on hold" mid conversation, when the person they are with communicates on their network device. But how can we prove this stuff is changing the way we think, read, and communicate? hmm... Why do you think that both technological determinism and scientific exploration both focus on casualty (cause and effect relationships)? (Chandler, D. (2002) Technological or Media Determinism). hmm.. I think we may have found the "proof" we were looking for. Technology IS changing the way we think! We have obviously changed if we absolutely need to verify change by eliminating all variables in an absolute scientific like answer (we are becoming more like HAL !). Isn't that proof in itself?

Am I digitally refashioning you? [blog2]

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READINGS:
Bolter, David. Writing Space. Chapters 1, 2, 3. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates,, 2001. Print.

Leiner et al. A Brief History of the Internet. (2003). http://www.isoc.org/internet/history/brief.shtml


QUESTON:
Bolter asks how writing spaces such as the scroll, codex, and book each "refashion its predecessor" (13). What does hypertext refashion? Integrate information from Bolter in your answer.


ANSWER:
Is hypertext a revolutionary writing style that allows the reader to learn at their own pace and on their own path? Is it the "ne plus ultra" of all text (Bolter, 43)? Or is hypertext simply another way to influence a reader?

While I was reading my paper-copy version of David Bolter's book "Writing Spaces" I found myself looking up definitions of words on the internet. I thought to myself; this would be a lot easier if I could simply push the word with my finger right inside the book. I can't help but feel that this is one extra step, setting down the book to look up a word, that humans are beginning to squeeze out of existence. It seems ease-of-use and control overpowers traditional textbooks and one day the need for printed text will vanish. However hypertext may have side effects, "letting the reader choose links only gives the illusion of control... If authors prescribe links, they deny the reader the choice of making his/her own associations" thus giving the reader less freedom then the printed version (Bolter, 43).

Am I digitally refashioning you?

What if a software program was invented to work around this issue? The program could lie invisibly over the desktop and provide general definitions if the user performed a special command over the word. Would such a system be possible?

AFTERTHOUGHT:
While searching for definitions I happened to stumble across "Writing Spaces" in Google books. The first thing I thought was; oh no, I didn't have to buy the book after all (What is happening to the publishing industry!). It turned out that Google did not allow the reader to view the entire book. Instead I used it as a tool to search for keywords while it provided the page numbers, even the page numbers to the pages un-viewable. I thought to myself this is great! Now if only I could highlight and copy, but the format was in PDF and was not a true digital format. Why can't the book be fully digital and automatically hyperlink each and every word to a general definition page?

Recent Comments

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