My choice for the media analysis

For my third media analysis, I plan on analyzing the Sept. 11th Digital Archive.  I think that there is a ton of valuable information on that site, from pictures to stories.  It should be an interesting project, exploring the site and analyzing it.

Exploratory Writing

Lexia to Perplexia was just as the title suggested, very perplexing.  The presentation style is very abstract and piecing together the various bits of text was a challenge.  However, from reading through the pages, it seems as if the text is talking about humans, perhaps comparing and constrasting humans to computers.  A lot of the language used and writing style used is similar to a programming language or to abbreviations used on computers.  This creates an obvious link between what the text was discussion and computers, and was probably the most concrete link/idea presented within the various lexia.  Because there isn’t any concrete navigation, other than the main menu and about page, clicking through the various lexia can become tedious.  You are never quite sure where to click in order to move on or gain new text.  it was a very interesting piece of hypertext though.

The Bomar Gene presents readers with a unique and interesting idea.  This idea is that every single person has a gene unique to them which gives them an ability that no one else has.  Some of these abilities are useless and go unnoticed while others are incredibly useful and powerful.  The author used Macromedia Flash very effectively to present the stories of various individuals and their gene’s/abilities.  The navigation is presented as a DNA strip at the top of the page, and the direction that your mouse is moving/its location on the page dictates which way the DNA strip scrolls.  There are small links on the DNA strip that bring up different stories.  Each story has a piece of text to read and some sort of graphical display on the right side.  For me at least, the graphic acted to spark my imagination and bring the story to life.  I really liked this piece of hypertext, it does a great job of holding the readers attention.

Obviously Lexia to Perplexia and The Bomar Gene employed multimedia in different ways to get their points across, both of which did so in a successful way.  Lexia to Perplexia seemed to use multimedia more to create chaos and confusion for the reader.  The multimedia used isn’t really consistant or similar between pages, other than that it uses symbols and computer language along with chaos to get its point acros.  This seems to bring the message to the reader of complexity and chaos, which seems to be what the author was going for.  The Bomar Gene, on the other hand, uses multimedia in a different way.  It is relatively straight forward once you figure out the navigation method, and readers can quickly get to different pages and easily and coherently read each page.  The Bomar Gene’s message seems to be more scientific, more straight forward and clear cut, and the multimedia use in The Bomar Gene is also straight forward and clear cut.  So, I think that each page really uses multimedia very well to get their individual messages across, and each page is a success in its own way.

Pax TV

The Color of Television was an interesting hypertext for a few reasons.  First off, I found the actual writing itself to be pretty good.  At times, it reminded me a lot of Calvino, especially in the way that pages would end right at the climax, forcing you to click around to try and find the continuation.  It was also interesting that there were a few different stories going on at once, all on the same page, simply differentiated by color and text.  This allows the reader to either pick which story they want to try and follow, or to read each story but to know when they’re reading a different story.

My immediate thought when I opened The Color of Television was "wow, the design of this page isn’t very good".  As I read through the pages, I remembered that the page was designed in 1996, almost ten years ago.  When I continued to read, I realized that different colored text identified different stories, and that didn’t make the design so bad.  As a hypertext the design works, you can identify individual stories; you can find the links that take you to different lexia, etc.  I thought it would be interesting to see that site redesigned by today’s web design standards, and to see if it would have the same effect and impact as this original version.

 

Pax was slightly confusing.  I read the "about" page, so I had a slight idea of what I would see when I began to click through the page.  As I began to work my way through the page, I honestly got a little bit bored.  The amount of clicking necessary for the small amount of text received wasn’t giving me enough quite the satisfaction I was seeking.  Similar to The Color of Television though, it was easy to recognize when a different character was speaking, mainly because their face would pop up in the bottom right of the left segment of the screen as the new text popped up on the right side of the screen.  As I continued to click through Pax, I started trying to pay more attention to the words appearing and changing in the background.  It was hard to read the words in the background and keep track of the text appearing on the right side of the screen, but I was wondering if those two separate pieces of text had any relation.  That is to say, if what appeared in the background related to what was showing up on the right side of the screen.  I feel like I would need to spend a whole lot more time with Pax to figure out if the two pieces of text had any relation. 

Afternoon and its Lexia

The four lexia that I picked to analyze were Lolly’s Monologue, 1/, 2/, and exploding.  To get from Lolly’s Monologue to 1/ I clicked on the word "accident".  Lolly’s Monologue is discussing the accident that the story begins with, discussing how it came about.  The word accident doesn’t seem to really have any relation to the title of the lexia, 1/, but it does have a large relation to the content of the lexia. 1/ details exactly what took place, or at least what Lolly thought took place.  From that lexia, I clicked on the word "truth".  This brought me to 2/, which discusses the history of some of the characters, as chronicled by Lolly.  Again, the word which brings you to 2/ doesn’t have anything to do with 2/, but the content of 2/ has everything to do with the word which brought you to the lexia.  2/ is talking about the truth behind what Peter and Wert know.  Moving on from 2/, I clicked on the word "entropy".  Clicking on entropy led me to the lexia titled "exploding", which contained the single word "exploding".  Here, there is an interesting link between the word and the lexia.  Entropy has a secondary meaning of a measure of the disorder or randomness in a closed system.  An explosion can be very disorderly and very random, and it’s interesting that the word entropy would link to a lexia titled explosion.

Lolly’s monologue
I decided to begin with the page titled "Lolly’s monologue."  This lexia almost seems to be a beginning to an end, a starting place to summarize the accident.  Prior to getting to this lexia, I had clicked through several lexia’s being narrated by Nausicaa, who was one of Peter’s lovers.  However, at Lolly’s Monologue, we see a shift from narration by Nausicaa to narration by Lolly.  Lolly is telling of her interpretation of Nausicaa’s words, breaking down what she said about the accident.  As a lexia, this relates to most of "Afternoon, a story".  When you begin the story, you come across some discussion of an accident, possibly involving the ex-wife and son of the narrator, Peter.  Lolly’s monologue analyzes what Peter’s lover said about the accident. 

1/
In this lexia, we continue to see Lolly narrate.  She is analyzing the accident, trying to come up with a reason as to why it happened.  Again, this relates back to the beginning of the story with the discussion of the accident.  Also, this lexia ties in several different characters of the story, namely Peter, Wert, and Lisa.  In that way, it relates back to the previous lexia, but also to lexia throughout the story. 

2/
2/ is really about history.  It is about stating facts about Wert and Peter, and facts of life.  There are two lines in this lexia that read "There are forces which we can call evil." "There are powers which we can call good."  With these two lines, this lexia is basically saying that throughout the story you come across good and evil powers and forces, and that they are what drive life and the story.

Exploding
This is an interesting lexia because it so subtly relates to the previous lexia and to the entire story.  The previous lexia were discussing the accident, discussing the relations between Peter and Wert and Lisa, and analyzing what Nausicaa had to say.  In a way, the previous lexia were discussing an explosion between the lives of several individuals.  They were discussing several different lives coming together at one exact moment, an explosion.  Similarly, the accident could be looked at as an explosion between two automobiles.  So, it’s interesting that the previous lexia led to a page with one word, explosion, on it. 

The overall theme of these Lexia seem to be about the accident and what caused the accident.  All of them, with the possibly exception of “exploding”, seem to be narrated by Lolly.  These specific lexia almost give an answer as to what happened in the accident, but it’s only part of the answer.  As seems to be the case throughout “Afternoon, a story” you are given a small piece of the puzzle but must continue to read on to fill in the rest of the puzzle.

Hegirascope

While going through the Hegirascope, the reader will come across many different pages and many pages that seemingly have no relation to each other.  However, if one reads for long enough, they will encounter fragments from many different stories and begin to slowly piece together each story.  It would take forever to figure out the entire Hegirascope, so when I found a couple of pages that directly related to each other and directly linked to each other, I figured I would start there.  The first page that I decided to begin with, titled Amanda, (http://iat.ubalt.edu/moulthrop/hypertexts/hgs/HGS078.html) seems to be a letter or an e-mail written by a woman named Amanda to her husband or boyfriend.  She is telling him about her experience in Oklahoma City, just after the Oklahoma City Bombing.  Specifically, she is talking about her initial observations about the emergency response, and how many rolls of film she shot and where she shot them from. 

From there, I clicked on the link titled "Stop Worrying" (http://iat.ubalt.edu/moulthrop/hypertexts/hgs/HGS135.html).  It caught my attention because of the fact that it was essentially the last thing that Amanda said in her letter.  Clicking that link brought me to a page titled "Amandus", which was seemingly a response to the letter or e-mail that Amanda had written.  It seems to be a general update on life from the other character in the letters, detailing the daily happenings.  As I was reading this letter, the page automatically updated to what appeared to be another letter from Amanda in response to the Amandus letter (http://iat.ubalt.edu/moulthrop/hypertexts/hgs/HGS136.html). There is some highly personal discussion going on between the two individuals, and it’s interesting to see the back-and-forth conversation between the two in letter form.

An interesting point in these letters is that the links provided on the side of the page are all words directly from the letter.  However, they often times don’t link to something directly related to the word which is linked.  Most of the time you can’t make a direct path between segments of the same story simply by clicking on links.  Typically you just happen across another piece of the story minutes later, and you must reconnect what you had already read.  To help you link stories together, pieces of the same story on different pages use the same background color and the same font color.  This tends to cause a "haven’t I seen this page before?" reaction, but you quickly realize you haven’t once you start reading.

This approach is very successful.  While reading what seems to be a random assortment of fragments of stories wouldn’t seem to be all that interesting, attention is retained by the fact that you begin to anticipate finding the continuation of a story buried somewhere in all the links.  Also, you can’t help but wonder "what’s next?" and either wait for the page to automatically update, or click on a link.  It’s strange to think that the author of the Hegirascope would want to make the tempo of browsing the sight so fast, since the pages automatically update every thirty seconds or so.  It almost causes a sense or urgency in the reader, giving the feeling of "I have to read fast or I won’t finish this page".  Again, this makes the reader want to keep on reading, and it really makes the Hegirascope a successful piece of digital text.  It really is a "text machine".

The Other Incipits

In "From the Deep Dark Cells of Isolation", Bryan seemed to focus on linking to things that you wouldn’t first think of when reading the linked sentence.  For example, with the line "wait a minute here", he linked the word "minute" to the Minute Made website.  This strategy didn’t necessarily take away from the meaning or coherency of the incipit, but instead gave it some new meaning.  With most of the links, you had to stop and think for a second "why is he linking to this page?", but somehow still manages not to distract the reader enough to stop reading the incipit.  So overall, I think he did a good job making links that weren’t in fact direct links to what he was talking about and managed to make the reader think.

Wes seemed to employ a bit of a different strategy with most of his links by linking to images that directly related to what he was talking about.  An example from his incipit would be linking the word "Philadelphia" to an image of the Philadelphia skyline.  This approach seems to make the incipit a bit more coherent since it gives the reader a direct visual representation of what is going on in the story.  Similarly, it also gives the story a bit more meaning, since it can give the reader more of an idea of what the author had in mind when he was writing, leaving less guessing to do about visuals.

Linking to the Calvino Incipit

Most of the links that I inserted into my Calvino "incipit" were done so to enhance the story.  I didn’t want the link to be completely pointless and have some incredibly vague connection.  Instead, I chose links that would give the viewer some sort of a visual image of the word of phrase I was linking to.  In the case of clasemates incipits that I linked to, each had either a common word or common idea between them.  I wanted a direct, clear relation to be found in what I was linking to.

Take my "yelling in my face" link for example.  The line from my incipit was "My eyes shot open, and I found a very large man in my face, yelling in my face, although my face wasn’t quite sure what he was yelling about."  Clearly, the link to yelling in my face has a very graphic example of someone yelling in another persons face, bringing a sort of visual enhancement to the story, making it feel a bit more intense.

With another link that I inserted, the "escape plan" link, I wanted the reader to see that "escape plan" can refer to more than just escaping from something.  The line from my incipit reads "Being stuck on a bus doesn’t afford many opportunities to devise an escape plan, I was stuck."  Obviously everyone knows what escaping from a bus is, and an image of a bus or of someone running or escaping wouldn’t add too much to the story, since it wouldn’t convey the point very well (that is, that the "I" wanted to escape but that he was stuck and couldn’t).  Instead, I chose to link to a wallpaper for a band "The Dillinger Escape Plan".

Another link that I included came in the sentence "This was good, since I no longer had a large, angry man trying to turn my head into what would resemble a lump of dough, swelling and taking on funny shapes."  With this link, I figured a visual image of a lump of dough being worked over by a pair of hands would be a great visual image to supplement the line of text.  My thought was that it would give readers a great idea of what I was aiming to get across with my writing.

The last link that I included in my incipit came in the last line and reads "And that is when all hell broke loose, or, I should say, all hell slammed into the front of a crowded building."  With this one, I wasn’t quite sure if readers would clearly get the point that I was referring to the bus hitting the front of a building, and so I wanted to visually represent that with an image.  Like a lot of my links, I was aiming to add visual stimulation to the story.

So did my links work?  I think that most of, if not all of them, worked fairly well.  I was mainly trying to convey a meaningful addition to the story, giving the reader another tool in enhancing what they were reading, beyond their own imagination.  Some of my links were a bit more vague, but I feel that they all make sense if you take at least some time to think about them.

 

Switching Roles

This weeks readings promted a few different things for me to think about. First off, I was thinking about the differences that are possibly created for someone reading this book based on their gender. As Calvino briefly switched the point of view to that of Ludmilla, it made me think of the fact that for most of the book “The reader” had been through the viewpoint of a male, which could create an entirely different way of reading/taking in the book for those readers that are female. Our gender most definitely plays a role in how we percieve others actions, and I’m sure its no different in what we read as well. I could be way off, but it was just something I hadn’t really thought about before reading that particular page.

Secondly, it occurred to me that Silas Flannery was possibly a representation of Calvino, at least to some degree. Perhaps Calvino was having trouble finishing his stories, so he figured he’d throw them all into one book and came up with a very uniqe plot to tie them all together. Regardless of whether that is true or not (most likely not), I still wouldn’t be surprised at all if Calvino put at least some of himself in Flannery.