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Afterpaper by Deena Larsen
for Media Morphs the Messenger 98

A Treasurehold of Ideas

The second hypertext writers workshop: Media Morphs the Messenger, transformed at least one messenger from a quiet, reasonably focused hypertext writer to a whirlwind of ideas and gasps at the genie-like treasures in hyperliterature. As Bill Bly (and others) said, we conjure, seduce, engage the reader in our texts. This workshop certainly did that for me--and more.

So how to describe the workshop? I asked people to talk about what they will bring from it to their work--which is as good a place to start as any. The workshop addressed my issue of closure by describing how writers interact with the reader. Closure in this context takes on a different meaning--it is not how the work ends but how the work relates to itself and the reader that is important. I found that Stone Moons is a complete world--and is nearing completion. I do not have to follow each tiny thread, just as we do not follow each thread in a linear story.

I will draw all of the nodes to the center core of the work--Sarah's mythic struggle with the moon to keep her daughter. As Marjorie Luesebrink pointed out, the Jane space in the middle of the piece is physical and psychic center of Stone Moons--and I will work with that notion of center.

But this is not the place to end. The workshop brought together a treasurehouse full of minds, each irreparably addicted to hypertext. Hearing how authors approach content, structure, time, closure, hidden spaces, reviews, reader interaction, and usability demonstrated the incredible diversity of the hypertext community. Discussing issues showed the many common issues underlying our work and provided fresh insights into grappling with these ideas.

The presentations provided an in-depth look at developments in hypertext content and structure. Julianne Chatelain's usability demo showed how we can beta-test writing in much the same way as we beta-test new software. Jill Walker's use of Jane spaces and many authoritative voices (each proclaiming to be the true one) vividly portrayed the use of contrapuntal themes to make one melodious whole. Marjorie's work in graphics revealed how meaning spills over from the text and colors the page. Bill Bly's work showed how a map can traverse memory and themes as well as distance. I need to take the rest of the year off just to think about all of the ideas whirling through our discussion.

Perhaps the greatest treasure is the groundwork for future conferences and workshops. The third workshop, the Messenger Morphs the Media, will be proposed for HT99 in Darmstadt Germany. We are working on a 4 day workshop for system developers and writers in May 99 in Denver Colorado. If you would like to participate in these, please contact me at deenalarsen@acm.org.



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