> process notes
information architecturepart of writing a thesis on the web is information design. information design here refers to links, navigation, illustrations, textual layout, and overall architecture and corresponding structure.
the ideal thesis presented on the web should be web-like, and all that entails; perhaps shallow, quicker, more of a subjective experience than an absolute perspective.
to accomodate and challenge these expectations i have included more than the usual number of illustrations for a thesis on this subject. minimized product pictures, online advertisement excerpts, tools, whatever scraps i've found in my research or that roughly reference the subject matter of the text. these illustrations serve to ground the experience of text in the visual, and present day. syringes, bags of doritos, weight loss ads; these familiar images give the reader a homing point, a reference for what would otherwise be flat page after page of words.
the web demands its own type of textual formatting, and composition: short paragraphs and wide margins, ample illustrations and large pull quotes serve to pull in a skimming reader. it is a strange breed of academic criticism that sells itself as approachable.
in more traditional theses, writing and researching take up the bulk of production efforts. here, the tasks of composition and consideration are extended beyond words to graphics and navigation. navigation is a particularly important point, especially when a large stand-alone textual piece online exists outside of a chaptered format. to make the disparate pieces of the thesis more accessable, i have included a toolbar at the bottom with a comprehensive sense of the body of the thesis. most web browsers should tell readers what parts they have not yet visited. more important than the navigation bar (admittedly little more than a augmented, omnipresent table of contents), i have used the linking power of this hypertext medium to have portions of my thesis comment upon each other. here is where the medium saves me from spreading my legs too far out and having no foundation upon which to stand - by noting where food fortification meets water fluoridation and Lynn Hall's remarks on vitamins, the connections, the area that exists between those pages, created in the mind of the reader, serves as a necessary foundation. it may be less tangible and definite for folks used to traditional presentations, but the possibilities for turning this kind of multidirectional scope on the modern world are exciting, and in my braver moments i feel this form is the most authentic for exploration of topics as broad as technology.
already from readers i get a sense of permeability - they're not sure they have read everything, and they're not sure i've covered everything. with as many fragments as i've created here, it is possible to be unsure, to lose track over time. i hope i haven't! a frequent response to this permeability, to this open structure is suggestion - where readers see themselves, their own information, their own structure. while the web technology used here does not afford the addition of reader comments or alternative structures and viewpoints, that those things are generated in the reader's mind and suggested is a promising sign for collective thinking in the future.
sourcingmany of the principles dictating my information design affected my source gathering as well.musicians
in my bibliography you'll notice magazines, scholarly journals, web sites, popular music lyrics, interviews with friends and relatives, corporate press releases, books; a wide range of textual material from which i draw to make technology commentary. a subject as broad as technology demands a broad approach to source material. and as i am studying the use of tools by most folks, sources closer to most folks are all the more important.
the danger is using too many "low-brow" magazines that don't delve too deeply into the root causes behind their reporting. that, then, becomes my task. in these cases, juxtaposition becomes important, and to achieve this effect the web medium has been invaluable.
music in my headphones and disturbing my hallmates, musicians have been my accomplices in this craft here. i started off pretty techno-heavy, and later moved into more eclectic and bluesy faire.equipment
bjork, peter gabriel, ltj bukem, jane's addiction, artcore 4, deep detroit 1, boymerang, left coast chronicles, juke joint jump, off and gone, hugh masekela & the union of south africa, gorilla biscuits, buffalo daughter, leadbelly, silver apples, siouxsie and the banshees, cibo matto, roni size, ice cube, propellerheads, stevie wonder, baaba maal, beethoven, fishbone, bud powell, duke ellington, ken ishii, lee scratch perry, jimi hendrix, hamza el din, flatt & scruggs, the grateful dead, vangelis/bladerunner soundtrack, the velvet underground & nico, doo rag, ministry, barry white, the orb, the cure, left coast chronicles, reverend gary davis, liz phair, clifford brown and max roach, peter gabriel, geinoh yamashirogumi, talking heads, baaba maal.
during the final weekend before my thesis rough draft was due, there was a live music festival "worthstock" outside my dorm, so these musicians performed live for my thesis: category 5, brenda kahn, bunnyrunt, tallyrand, pacific ocean, versus.
my computer for this composition is a docked apple macintosh duo 2300c with 56 megs of ram and a 1.1 gig hard drive, running system 8.1. i used a 14 inch monitor, so if things look somehow pinched, well, that was my reality.
this thesis is composed in bbedit 4.01 and 4.5.2, and uploaded using fetch 3.03. the initial drafts of this thesis were graciously hosted online by the sccs - the swarthmore college computer society.
my surfing and drafting i did with netscape navigator 3.04. i used webdevil 3.01 to whack particularly useful sites. Graphic Converter 3.1.1, by Thorsten Lemke?, i used to trim and fix up stolen web graphics.