Tuesday, December 09, 2003

My Capstone Project

The following four posts are the product of my semester-long capstone project. I constructed a research paper on the rhetoric of hypertext in weblogs, then transferred it into electronic form, and created this weblog to host it. (It's sort of a literal blurring of the borders, see. The paper takes the form which it analyzes and attempts to demonstrate, thereby acting as a much more powerful message transmitter. The audience can then see what was once a printed text working as an electronic text as it analyzes electronic text--pretty groovy, huh.) I then used the weblog to create a twenty minute presentation (for this afternoon), where I gave the audience a very brief overview of weblogs, hypertext, and how they work together.

Navigating my Capstone Project:

The Paper (split into three blog entries):

  1. Blurring the Borders of Rhetoric and Hypertextuality in Weblogs, Part I

  2. Blurring the Borders of Rhetoric and Hypertextuality in Weblogs, Part II

  3. Appendixes and Works Cited

The Paper Presentation

I hope that you enjoy what you read, but I warn you, it is not, at this moment (nor at any future moment for that matter), perfect. As I was transferring it into electronic form, I found some typos, copyediting errors, and a source error. I am in the process of fixing those, as we speak. Also, I am not, nor do I claim to be, an expert on the subject. I am simply a lowly college student trying to graduate with my head intact (it did almost explode last night), and this paper is a humble, required, final project for my undergrad career. I hope to transcend the level of intellect in graduate school, but please don't execute me for mistakes or immature thought in the meantime.

So, if you have any insightful comments or ideas that you would like to offer, feel free to add them as you go. Or you can email me at thisfargone@hotmail.com.

Paper Presentation

This presentation was constructed as a quick guide for my English Capstone research paper. Click here to view my Capstone Paper: Blurring the Borders of Rhetoric and Hypertextuality in Weblogs.

Weblogs: typically personal web pages that use dated entries to store frequent page updates.

Weblogs began appearing in earnest in 1999, but a small circle of weblogging has existed since 1995.

Weblogging (blogging) gives writers (bloggers) unparalleled freedom in free publishing. Free blog hosts such as Blogger and Pitas allow writers to publish to the Web without any knowledge of HTML code.

There are two basic forms: link-heavy style and journal-style.

There are blogs that focus on every subject imaginable—from politics to cooking to dog grooming.

According to a recent survey by Perseus, there are currently at least 4.12 million blogs today...and counting.

Hypertext: the presentation of information in a non-linear form

Hypertext is associated most closely with associative textual selection in computers, and now, the Internet. Hyperlinks connect texts, or files, on the Internet.

An example of an hypertextual reading:

  1. You begin your reading with the article, Ted
    Nelson and Xanadu

  2. In this article, you encounter a linked familiar name,
    Vannevar Bush
    that you would like to learn more about. Instead of
    consulting an unrelated text from a source such as the library, as you would
    be obliged to do if using a printed text, you simply click on the linked words
    for the author's explanation.

  3. By following the link, you are led to a short biography, which includes
    a linked word, Memex.
    You click on the link, and are then presented with a short description of
    Vannevar Bush’s vision of the Memex.

  4. After reading about the Memex, you simply click on a link back to the original
    text, Ted Nelson, and are returned immediately and effortlessly to the original

Figure 1. Three separate texts are incorporated into the reading of Ted Nelson and Xanadu

On the Internet, texts that were originally constructed to transmit the message of a larger, collective work, are disassociated from the original work, and become individual texts, within the vast network of texts, and connected by links.

Figure 2. The four chapters of the book
transmit the book's primary message.

Figure 3. The four chapters of the book function as a network of interconnected texts.

The Roots of Hypertext:

Hypertext was originally envisioned by Vannevar Bush in 1945, but created in the 1960’s by computer pioneer, Theodor Nelson, who described his motivation in a 1996 radio interview:

"I had done a great deal of writing as a youth, and re-writing, and the intricacy of taking ideas and sentences and trying to arrange them into coherent, sensible, structures of thought struck me as a particularly intricate and complex task, and I particularly minded having to take thoughts which were not intrinsically sequential and somehow put them in a row because print as it appears on the paper, or in handwriting, is sequential. There was always something wrong with that because you were trying to take these thoughts which had a structure, shall we say, a spatial structure all their own, and put them into linear form. Then the reader had to take this linear structure and recompose his or her picture of the overall content, once again placed in this non-sequential structure...you had to take these two additional steps of deconstructing some thoughts into linear sequence, and then reconstructing them. Why couldn't that all be bypassed by having a nonsequential structure of thought which you presented directly? That was the hypothesis - well the hyperthesis really - of hypertext, that you could save both the writer's time and the reader's time and effort in putting together and understanding what was being presented."

The non-linear shape of the Internet reflects the non-linear shape of human thought

On the Internet, Hypertext supplies background information and helps retain user attention.

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