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Week 8

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Week 8. Internet sites - Critiques

Exercise for Week
Develop a short critique comparing two or more of the author’s sites at

PLUS  critique a site of one’s own choosing – (please provide your chosen URL to group at beginning of session).  


Critiques of hypertext sites. ‘What is a critic to do? The answer, finally, must be Write in hypertext itself.’ Landow, (‘What’s a Critic to do? p36)

Texts: Jakob Nielson is arguably the Web's best known guru. His website, known as (usable information technology) is a mecca for web writers of all levels. Although Neilson is primarily concerned with the mechanics  of publishing the most "usable" web site possible, his site contains many valuable links to sources of hypertext information. In addition, Nielson publishes an online column called Alertbox which features endless advice on authoring in hypertext and offers links to many related sites.

There are many sites offering advice on web design - we will look at some.

There is a fundamental difference between a good-looking site and a good site. Attractive sites may have poor navigation and usability To succeed, websites need to match style with substance

We will be critiquing each other’s sites later:
Criticism sho
uld follow the following :
1) Positive criticism.
2) State in concrete terms what strengths you see in the work.
3) Ask clarifying questions.
4) Suggest ways in which the work might be improved

The standard of writing on the net is poor due to:
the large numbers of poets being published;
large numbers being published without editorial gatekeepers or feedback;
writers taking their best work to funded magazines first which offer payment; and
the perception that the Net is a poor medium for poetry.

But the possibilities are for:
roaming widely across fields and disciplines
·   deep into scholarly levels and footnotes and different author’s critiques if necessary;
·   synchronically; or

Remember we discussed hypertext authorship – a hypertext author is more than just a writer. If a writer can be said to create text, a hyperbook author must also design the presentation of that text and choose the overall structure and interfaces (within the system parameters). Creating a hypertext can also involve the author in areas usually the purview of other professions: graphics and programming.

With all of these concerns, it is not surprising that the results of many novice hyperbook authors are uneven at best.


In ‘Assessing the Quality of Hypertext Documents,’ Peter Brown lists some of the faults he found when refereeing student works authored in hypertext.

Potential authors would do well to keep these in mind:

  • poor local visual design
  • lack of consistency in visual design
  • poor use of interface elements
  • lack of exploitation of hypertext abilities
  • flashy use of interface elements for effect
  • poor writing
  • lack of concern for context--nodes designed to be read in one path read badly in another
  • lack of concern for future document maintenance design that relied on one setting of a configuration that readers might change (eg. designing text for only one window width)