Without doubt, the best-known, most frequently accessed public wiki is Wikipedia. But in Jane Klobas’s ”Wikis, from Social Software to Social Information Space,” the first chapter in her book, Wikis: Tools for Information Work and Collaboration, Klobas describes numerous other uses of wikis, both public and private. Although most people categorize wikis simply as another form of “social software,” Klobas argues that they are much more: “Wiki pages are spaces that allow people to collaboratively share information and ideas, so wikis are also spaces for the social construction of knowledge.” Klobas also describes the attitudes and philosophies of collaboration that are essential to successful wikis, including the sometimes controversial issue of “soft security,” which is what makes Wikipedia such a poor source for academic writing. How does Klobas’s discussion of wikis mesh with your current knowledge of wikis–even if that knowledge is limited to your familiary with Wikipedia? Does the wiki sound like a useful tool for working on your group annotated bibliographies? For other educational projects? What drawbacks do you see with the use of wikis in an educational setting? I look forward to reading your responses, which are due no later than 11:59 p.m., Sunday, April 3.
In “Argument in Hypertext: Writing Strategies and the Problem of Order in a Nonsequential World,” Locke Carter describes the difficulties faced by writers of hypertext arguments and suggests some strategies for overcoming–or at least mitigating–some of those difficulties. On the other hand, Barbara Warnick, in Chapters 2 and 3 of Rhetoric Online: Persuasion and Politics on the World Wide Web, examines how readers react to hypertext arguments and how they make judgments about the validity of information and arguments on the World Wide Web. Although Carter’s article may seem more germane to you as you prepare to write a hypertext argument, your arguments can also benefit from Warnick’s analysis of how readers assess validity in hypertext. Both Carter and Warnick stress the challenges posed by the nonlinear structure of hypertext, echoing many of Jay David Bolter’s claims in the chapters we read from Writing Space, and both see Stephen Toulmin’s system of informal logic as a useful tool in writing and evaluating hypertext arguments. Taken together, these readings should help you think about hyptertext arguments from the perspective of a writer and a reader. I’m eager to read your responses to these (printed, non-hyper-) texts. Your responses should be at least 250 words and are due no late than 11:59 p.m., Thursday, March 3.
As Mary Warejcka pointed out in her guest lecture Friday, search-engine optimization is a tool used primarily by retailers and other businesses to attract potential customers to their websites. However, as she noted, knowledge of search-engine optimization can help any web developer choose keywords and meta-tags that may attract more readers. Although a few personal websites may be written exclusively for family and friends of the author, I think it is safe to assume that even authors of most non-commerical websites want readers, particularly readers who share the author’s interests. Whether you designed your website for a real or fictitious business, for a non-profit organization or educational group, or merely for personal enjoyment, you probably would like for people other than me and your classmates to visit your site. On the other hand, you may not want to make the use of key terms in your website so redundant that readers are turned off, even if that redundancy appeals to search-engine robots. In your responses, please share your thoughts on the audience you perceive for your website, the keywords that might make it easier for your perceived audience to find your site, and your views on search-engine optimization and its role in web design and writing for the web. Please post your responses no later than 11:59 p.m., Sunday, February 27. I look forward to reading them.
In “The Design of Web. 2.0: The Rise of the Template, the Fall of Design,” Kristin Arola echoes Lynda Rutledge Stephenson’s claim that writers and students benefit from designing their own electronic writing spaces. Unlike “Road Trip,” a hypertextual journal through Stephenson’s adventures in learning to code web pages and in using the web for her creative and academic writing, “The Design of Web 2.0” was published in a traditional print journal, albeit one that includes hyperlinks to some sources. Thinking back on some of Jay David Bolter’s ideas about the differences between print and hypertext, what do these two articles gain and what do they lose from being published in their respective writing spaces? Would Arola’s article have been more effective were it published as hypertext in Kairos, the online journal in which “Road Trip” appeared? What would “Road Trip” gain or lose by conversion to print publication in Computers and Composition? I look forward to reading your responses, which should be posted no later than 11:59 p.m., Sunday, February 13.
This blog will replace the class listserv as the site for your responses to future readings. Unlike a listserv, where anyone can submit a message that is distributed to everyone on the list, this blog is set up so that only I can initiate a conversation (through what blog software calls a “post”) and class members can only respond to those posts. Thus, I will provide prompts for all future reading/response assignments. The first one, on ”The Design of Web. 2.0: The Rise of the Template, the Fall of Design” will appear later today. I have set the blog to display the newest post at the top of the page, which means your latest assignment will always be the first that you see when you visit the blog.