Tuesday, January 15, 2008

meanders by virtue of its form

Above is the original world wide web test pattern for the graphical interface (as opposed to text-only), dated 1994-95.

In my teaching, I was a passionate user immediately. In 1995, I wrote a short piece for a newspaper - and it was later published in an online magazine (unusual in those days) - that was essentially a negative review of a book that fretted about the then-emergent internet and its alleged destructive effect on reading. In the final paragraph of this brief essay, I wrote about what was then called "the world wide web":

"Authors and teachers have as a new tool a kind of text that can 'meander' by virtue of its form as well as its content, literally urging the reader to make choices at every turn. To the extent that we can resist the easy characterization of this mode of reading and learning as inhuman and "dictatorial" - with its anxious view of cultural authority as residing not in the individual creator of text but in the creator of the system syntax - then, I think, we will be better able to face a few of our problems as educators."

The whole essay (just a few pages long) is still available on the outmoded web site of XConnect here. The citation is XConnect ([pronounced "cross connect"], vol. 1, no. 2 (Fall 1995).