Week 3 (Sept. 13)

Instructor: Amanda

Topic: Exploding Narratives: How do digital spaces support non-traditional narrative formats?

Pre-class Readings/Assignment:

1. These Waves of Girls by Caitlin Fisher (spend at least 8 minutes exploring)

2. One of the following:

3. Any one work selected from Electronic Literature Collection Volume One or Electronic Literature Collection Volume 2 (you’ll need to report on this in class, so pay attention to how it makes use of digital features like linking and multimedia)

4. Deena Larsen’s Fun da Mentals site

5. These instructions were probably more confusing than they needed to be… what you really want is a) some form of laptop with b) some form of code editor installed. My recommendations are TextWrangler for Mac or Notepad++ for PC. If you use something that isn’t optimized for writing code–that is, a generic text writing program (e.g. the TextEdit program that comes packaged with your Mac, or Notepad without the ++ on your PC), you’ll need to change three settings to make sure the program doesn’t overwrite or mess up your hard work (see this image for help with changing settings on Mac TextEdit). In addition to not making you futz with settings, using a real code editorTM actually helps you out by doing stuff like reminding you to close your tags.

Optional Reading:

Post-class Assignment (both due by 8:00am EST on 9/18/2012):

1. HTML file (begun in class). Everyone needs to email visconti@umd.edu an HTML file containing all the features covered during the course lecture, even if you finished it during class:

  1. all necessary structural tags (doctype, html, head, title, body)
  2. italic text
  3. bold text
  4. paragraph and line break
  5. bulleted list
  6. hyperlink
  7. image
  8. linked image
  9. embed YouTube video
  10. all tags should be closed (except <br>) and the page should render correctly in a web browser

See this page if you didn’t finish your HTML page during class and need help to complete it.

If you knew HTML before this class, you may instead email visconti@umd.edu an example HTML file you authored (it needs to contain all the features we learned in class; see the checklist just above and add anything that’s missing from your file) and post a short (1-3 sentence) tip or resource about using HTML to the course blog as a replacement for getting to leave class early.

2. E-lit. Imagine last week’s narrative as simple website-based e-lit, trying to think in terms of HTML and hypertext (i.e. links, basic interactive fiction, blogs, rather than e-lit involving 3d virtual spaces or graphically advanced games). More info and ideas are on this page (available after class today); below are the assignment’s requirements:

  1. Full credit if you post the narrative your wrote last week to the blog and describe the features you would include in your digital version of the narrative. Your blog post should follow the general directions for writing a blog postas well as
    • list at least five specific features of e-lit you might use to create an “e-lit version” of your narrative (e.g. “embedding video” might be one feature, but be more detailed: tell me what kind of video, how it looks on the page, and what effect it has on the story and reader)
    • explain what effect each feature might have on the reader and on the shape of your story
    • refer to at least one piece of this week’s e-lit reading by comparing the effect of the features of your hypothetical piece of e-lit with an actual piece of published e-lit

    If you’re one of the people posting an HTML tip or resource (described above), you should post this as a separate blog post. I’ll post a separate blog post after class with some tips on this.

  2. Extra credit if (in addition to the explanatory blog post) you make your narrative into a simple piece of HTML e-lit and either a) upload it to the web and share the link on your blog post, or b) email Amanda the HTML file you made (if you can also try to attach it to your blog post so people can download it and check it out, that’d be great). This e-lit should use at least three digital-only features of the type you’re discussing above (e.g. embedded video, hyperlinks, images).
  3. Alternate extra credit (you can only get extra credit for one of these two options!) if you check out Nick Montfort’s Javascript-generated poem Taroko Gorge, then make your own version of it with new words. (Hint: view the page’s source and look for where the Javascript is declaring different strings of words, and alter these). To receive extra credit, you must publish your new version on the web and link to it on this course blog.

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