<--Word Circuits ---->Information about CyberMountain Colloquium and the corresponding MOO
Part I: Trellix Background
I helped shape a software product called "Trellix" for a specific purpose, that of improving the experience of reading and writing online hypertexts (as opposed to any other kind). Many of Trellix's features were designed to provide online analogs of aspects of physical reading. Others were designed to support skimming in a possibly futile defense against info- overload.
**Features were specifically chosen to support hypertext NON fiction as opposed to fiction, as noted below.**
A non-exhaustive list of Trellix features for readers includes:
For writers Trellix supports:
- creation of pieces and links in any order, as you feel the need for them; support for various work flows and explicit structures - easy linking in eight different flavors - automatic housekeeping for name changes and navigational links - ability to re-purpose older work, create sub-tours, enclose pages (including external pages) with comments/annotations, etc. - plus the "writers' version" of all of the readers' tools previously described.
So far so good. Since its release Trellix has been used primarily as an HTML creation tool, both on intranets and the Web, although there is a free Viewer (Acrobat model). In contrast to Storyspace, with which most workshop participants are familiar, Trellix does not have guard fields; in contrast to many HT systems, the links are not themselves objects separate from the pages where they reside. The intent was to select a subset of cool HT features and sell them to the users of Windows desktops in a commercial product designed from the bottom up for online writing.
There haven't been many HT fictions done in Trellix; I have put a few up on my personal web site to "show direction". I believe that fiction that truly takes advantage of the Trellix map hasn't yet been written- but should it be? I am happy to discuss this question and demo the advanced features of Trellix that are not discussed on our corporate web site. However...
Part II: At CyberMountain
I will be interested in listening to writers tell what they need/want. Since some of what the imagination comes up with depends on the tools now available, I will be interested in seeing what they (and the other toolmakers) are doing, and hearing their frustrations with these.
IF writers want to produce specific effects on their readers, I am happy to contribute my experience with "usability testing" to help them watch their readers' reactions. Recently I've been wrassling with the question of how software-style usability assessments can be morphed into useful tools for both readers and writers of cybertexts, possibly by combining them with more commonly used "writing workshop reader reaction" practices.
I will be working on hypertext usability issues, over time, with Deena Larsen and Robert Kendall and whoever else is interested. Discussions and experiments can be as formal or informal as the participants wish; if you have thoughts about this, feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) at work in advance of the colloquium.
Part III: My Favorite Questions
I've written elsewhere about "the problems of reading" and how usability relates to fiction. I'll make sure the URLs are up on my home page by about April 15th, because these are some of my favorite questions.
I am fascinated by Deena Larsen's ideas about links, and Markku Eskelinen's ideas about nodes and time, and can be counted upon to bring them up rather often.
My favorite question of the moment is...
How can we push hypertext environments to the point where they permit both writing and reading, both work and play, in states of "flow"? My dream is that the writer or reader can simply interact with the work, not be distracted by aspects of the authoring or reading system...YET have the system remain word-based (as opposed to TV or multimedia or VR) so that the peculiar word-based brain activities, in which so much of The Event occurs inside, can still be a major part of the experience.