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Week 2                           

Writing as technology - Manuscripts / Books / Hypertext
The book (codex) is extremely flexible and efficient but its material processes and production/distribution centralises knowledge production, limits access to information and controls the meaning of texts. Hypertext refigures the properties of text and, it can be argued, the nature and function of writing; or, to put another way, the paradigms of knowledge and literary production.

Text: Jay David Bolter, Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext, and the History of Writing, Lawrence Erlbaum, 1991. Bolter, ‘On the screen, as on medieval parchment, verbal text and image interpenetrate to such a degree that the writer and reader can no longer say where the pictorial space ends and the verbal space begins.’ p74. Note: Bolter cites hypertext as latest scenario in the history of writing.

 
Jenn & Lauren have been trying to send the class tables comparing hypertext writing with print but some/most emails bounced.

PLEASE ENSURE you have correct up to date emails for next class.

 

Here is Lauren's comments and table: 

The reading – Jay David Bolter, Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext, and the History of Writing; ‘Pictures In The Text’ (pg 71-74) – emphasises the impact of, and correlation between, images and text. Bolter argues that the emergence of hypertext and HTML codes that allow digital images and text to coexist on a webpage is not revolutionary, but simply a further development in the process of written communication. In other words, hypertext has an historical precedent that can be traced back as far as the 17,000 year old Lascaux cave paintings in France.

The chapter focuses more on images and their intertwining relationships with written text throughout history. The first example given is the pictorial alphabet of the Egyptians, hieroglyphics, the first written alphabet in known history (recent evidence has proved that hieroglyphs were in use earlier than Sumerian cuneiform, which was believed to have been the first written alphabet), and goes on to cite the heavily illuminated Book of Kells and other medieval manuscripts as the only form of codex where images and text are interwoven to the extent which they appear on a computer screen.

 

 

Printed Book

(codex)

HTML Document

(webpage)

·          There is a limited use of graphics / images / illustrations. Classical Graeco-Roman ideal of writing as an aid to rhetoric and oratory; complicated publishing processes; higher cost

·           Extensive use of graphics / images / illustrations. HTML – hypertext mark-up language, origins in illustrative publishing; images incorporated into site design – heavy focus on the visuals of a website; no cost

·          Publishing and text-wise, well-established and/or authors over 30 are  more likely to have books published; more marketable and often generate huge inroads in sales

·           The internet’s main users are teenagers and 20-somethings. Unlikely to be taken seriously by publishers, the internet provides access to readership and low-cost publishing

·          Published authors under contract, whilst they are paid for their work, are often tied to deadlines, subject to company pressure.

·           Fiction websites are the proverbial ‘labour of love’; webmasters post their work as it’s written or in segments, at their own pace.

·          Works left unfinished or abandoned by their authors usually never see the light of day, no publishing company would finance the release of an unfinished work unless the author was big enough to sell it with their name (e.g. Jane Austen)

·           Writers online are usually known as much for their names as their work. Because stories are posted in pieces, if they are left unfinished, what was written can still be accessed. Some authors have ‘Permanently Unfinished’ sections on their sites.

·          Political situations and social standards of a time are adhered to, doctoring texts and censorship is in wide practise.

·           Freedom of speech is a treasured ideal on the internet; the blue ribbon campaign is widely supported by webmasters

·          Copyrights are sacrosanct; to quote from another author’s work requires explicit permission from the work’s author and/or its publisher. Breeches can involve massive fines on both the author and publisher’s behalf.

·           Extracts are everywhere, nearly always credited. Copyright and legal issues, whilst acknowledged, generally cause little concern, given it’s so hard to enforce laws online. A disclaimer is usually the extent to which most webmasters will go.

 

 

Here is Jenn's table for those who did not receive it 

 

INTERNET

 

* inclusion of pictures + sound- both elements are integral to the presentation of text on the internet and are taken into consideration to a greater extent.

 

* greater focus on design/visuals- the content of a site is not the only thing people take into consideration. It is important to have a site that appears attractive and also takes into account things like varying screen sizes, browsers and  connection speeds. While some people are purely looking for the content, it is important that there is also some thought put into the way that the information is presented. For example, in addition to the inclusion of pictures/sounds, there is also greater emphasis placed on items such as fonts, paragraphing/spacing and size of text as well as ease of navigation.

 

* cheaper printing costs- there are many ways to be hosted for free on the internet, whether it be through a larger site or a more personal site.

 

* author freedom from industry- the publishing industry is very democractised and often dependant on contacts, experience or agent’s recommendations. It is extremely rare that a person is able to be published with an unsolicited manuscript or without prior pieces being appearing in magazines etc. The internet allows writers to take control of their own writing and actually step away from the industry itself.

 

* greater opportunity for unknowns, younger authors- this is another benefit of writing on the internet, stemming from the above point.

 

* serialisation- writing on the internet tends to be updated parts at a time, usually taking on the traditional ideas of chapters. For this reason, it is important to ensure that suspense is maintained so visitors will bookmark and return to the site. This is compared to the purchasing of a novel where it is more likely that a person will continue to read it until the end.

 

* varying forms e.g. journals, bloggers- these gives writers a lot of freedom on the web, allowing them a place to publish their work with minimal HTML knowledge.

 

* more controversial issues and experimental styles- writing on the internet is not limited to the various things that publishers feel will be acceptable. Therefore, a lot of the fiction on the web is slightly more unusual and something that may not be suitable for commercial publication.

PRINT

 

* graphic element restricted to covers- graphics are definitely important in a novel and in print. However, most graphics are limited to the cover of the book and while this is crucial as a way of seeking an audience, it is different compared to the union evident on the net.

 

* placement of graphics- some books do include other pictures, with things like family photos in biographies and other elements such as maps. However these tend to be placed separately in the text itself. For example, many clumps of pictures are located in the centre of the text, printed on different quality paper. This is for profit reasons.

 

* less variation in font and size as well as stricter rules on the ways in which to indicate a break

 

* there are high costs involved and often authors will receive little money for the books that they actually sell, with the profit returning straight to the company

 

* commercialised fiction industry- the industry is driven by a need for profit and therefore, most of the items that are printed are chosen due to wide appeal. For example, poetry is increasingly hard to publish, as there is not the market desire for it.

 

* Most authors who are published and wide read are older and have had a lot of previous experience as well as contacts. This means that the industry itself is very hard to break into and a good text in itself does not guarantee any level of success.

 

 

* auto-/biographies – tend not to be as personal as internet writers. As well as this, there is not the contact available with many published writers as there is with internet writers.

 

 

 

 

For week 1 - 2

The History of Haiga, Haiga Online http://members.aol.com/HAIGA/HAIGAOnline.index.html

11th century England manuscripts
Ps.-Apuleius, Dioscorides, Herbals (extracts), etc., in Latin and English
England, Bury St. Edmunds; 11th century, latehttp://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/dept/scwmss/wmss/medieval/mss/bodl/130.htm

Landow reviewing Bolter’s Writing Space
http://landow.stg.brown.edu/cv/Reviews/Bolter_152.html

Robert Coover The End of Books (1992)
http://wings.buffalo.edu/cas/english/faculty/conte/syllabi/370/EndofBooks.htm

Sven Birkerts, The Gutenberg Elegies:The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age, Faber and Faber   Section 8 Into the Electronic Millenium 
http://wings.buffalo.edu/cas/english/faculty/conte/syllabi/370/EndofBooks.htm