Assessment #1

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For this first assessment , your task will be to enhance a text using hypertext techniques. That is, to take a bit of plain old english text, and use the techniques we’ve learnt in class thus far to make it more engaging, more informative – or just plain prettier. Annotate it with links, add javascript animations, have extra information appear when you mouseover – or illustrate it with diagrams. You can be as creative or as simple as you want with this one.

The key thing is that by using the tools of hypertext, you should improve the experience that I as a reader have of that text. You might want to focus on making it more informative, or subverting its message, or simply making it look fantastic.

You will be assessed on the creativity with which you approach this task, your observance of web standards in producing the work, and with your ability to create an engaging experience for the viewers of your work. You will not be assessed on your prose (or poetry!) styles.

We will have a show-and-tell session of these pieces.

Text choice is up to you. But if you have no particular piece you wish to work with I recommend this extract from an 1889 essay by Jules Verne’s son

For George Washington Smith’s newspaper has lived generation after generation, now passing out of the family, anon coming back to it. When, 200 years ago, the political center of the United States was transferred from Washington to Centropolis, the newspaper followed the government and assumed the name of Earth Chronicle. Unfortunately, it was unable to maintain itself at the high level of its name. Pressed on all sides by rival journals of a more modern type, it was continually in danger of collapse. Twenty years ago its subscription list contained but a few hundred thousand names, and then Mr. Fritz Napoleon Smith bought it for a mere trifle, and originated telephonic journalism.

Every one is familiar with Fritz Napoleon Smith’s system–a system made possible by the enormous development of telephony during the last hundred years. Instead of being printed, the Earth Chronicle is every morning spoken to subscribers, who, in interesting conversations with reporters, statesmen, and scientists, learn the news of the day. Furthermore, each subscriber owns a phonograph, and to this instrument he leaves the task of gathering the news whenever he happens not to be in a mood to listen directly himself. As for purchasers of single copies, they can at a very trifling cost learn all that is in the paper of the day at any of the innumerable phonographs set up nearly everywhere.

You might also wish to consider something more topical, but if the text isn’t something you write yourself, or from a public domain source, please make sure that it has a Creative Commons licence or equivalent, and that you observe all the terms of that license.

As with all assessment for this class, the choice of technology that you use is completely up to you, but I will be supporting questions jQuery/Javascript, CSS and HTML only in class. You are welcome to use alternative technologies for your work, such as Adobe Flash/ActionScript, Microsoft Silverlight, or even animated GIFs, but I will expect any students using those technologies to demonstrate a firm grasp of and support for accessibility- in short, if I go to your site with a screen reader or with flash disabled.

I will be expecting to get your completed assessment pieces as folders containing a file called “index.html”, just as in Sharon’ts tutorials, which I may open to read your augmented text. If you wish to make use of third party code libraries to make your life easier, that is fine. However any code you use must be attributed with the source you got it from. Think of it as a normal class essay – citation is ok, but plagiarism is not. If you have a compelling reason to wish to host your assessment online that’s fine, but contact me first.

I will be testing sites in Firefox and Safari per default, but I’m happy to test in Google Chrome on demand. Internet explorer compatibility will not be assessed – if you want to make it work in that browser so it can go in your portfolio, more power to you.

Deadline is September 11.

Resources

As requested in the class, here is some useful further reading for the class:

net.art

This assignment is in the tradition of “net.art”, which I gather from class few of you have encountered in the class thus far. So, here’s a little background reading/inspiration…

Some of the older examples here might seem trite or unremarkable here – and lots of the old material is gone from the web. (feel free to post more examples in the comments). However lots of these pieces, as with the networker example, achieve a lot with very limited means, simply by playing with what linking means, and what electronic text might be. Even if you don’t wish to appropriate the aesthetic of net.art circa 1995, there is a lot to take from the approach of these early artists.

re-usable material

Creative commons texts for re-use are accessibly in lots of places! Most big companies allow you to search by content license these days. If you want to get a lot of material all at once, or you are having trouble finding the right button, you might want to use the specialised creativecommons.org search engine.

contact

And speaking of searches, it’s come to my attention that there are students out there who are too shy to ask my my email address, and haven’t been able to find it on the blog. (Hint: It’s in two places)

So, I’ve enabled the search box on the right hand sidebar of this page. Sometimes it’s nice to find stuff quickly, no? So without further ado, the contact email for the course!

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