Sunday, November 4, 2012

Learning North Sami in Second Life

Name of Course: North Sami for beginners (steps 1-2) - Nordsamiska, nybörjarkurs, steg 1-2
15 HP of which about 7 HP spoken language skills - the part for which the tasks in SL were designed

Year/s and Term/s Run:
Year 2009, fall term (1. pilot - only few not well planned visits in the virtual world with some of the students)

Year 2010, spring term (2. pilot - some course activities in SL were announced on the course webpage in advance, the teacher was attending a SL course for foreign language teachers through AVALON-project at the same time, most of the teaching materials were produced during this period)

Year 2010, fall term - here virtual world classes were announced in the welcome letter and technical requirements mentioned in the course curriculum, materials from spring term were used and improved, more materials were created and the models were used on the Spanish beginners course in the spring 2011. Part of a Flexutbildningar project that ended in the summer 2011

Number of Teachers: 1 RL teacher (and 2 virtual teachers of which one virtual voice morphed teacher was used as a virtual "resource person" and the RL teacher had her own personified teacher avatar in the virtual world, both virtual teachers were controlled by the RL teacher), there was also one Sami speaking guest visiting the course every now and then during the first term

Number of Students:
Varied during the course from about 14 to 7 active students.

Any Website/Online Materials:

Synopses for lesson plans and an overview of the course are available online from the AVALON site:

  1. Background to the Course Concept
  2. Overview of the Course 
  3. Requirements and Recommendations
  4. Learning Goals
  5. Story Board 
  6. Reward Models
  7. Technical Initiation
  8. Lesson 1
  9. Lesson 2
  10. Lesson 3
  11. Lesson 4
  12. Lesson 5
  13. Lesson 6
  14. Lesson 7
  15. Lesson 8
  16. Evaluation of Students
  17. Reflections
  18. Adaptations

In the Swedish context lesson plans and all teaching materials are the intellectual property of individual teachers. For this reason we are not prepared to share the teaching objects with any other universities without the consent of the teacher/s who created the materials . Most of the 3D objects were objects created (and therefore also owned) by other avatars in SL and that were given away for free. Since the teachers mostly used free materials owned by others, we cannot give these away to any other projects other than by sharing in SL with actual teachers in e.g. Euroversity project. Many of the teachers, technicians and managers who worked on the North Sami course are still involved in virtual world teaching. 

We also rented the piece of SL land from HUMlab and since the rental contract ended in December 2011, we no longer act as "owners" of the Språkens hus area. This was also partly the meaning of our project, that is, to be able to teach in a virtual world without having to own any land or to rent any space for the courses. Those teachers in the original project team who want to use their own materials such as boards with words now possess the skills to put up their own classrooms, holodecks or other materials in common building areas. This was one of the most important goals when it comes to technical skill required by the teachers, since it was clear to the teacher team already from the beginning, that the project was only running for 1,5 years and after that there would not be any money left to keep up with the maintenance of one's own teaching area or buying new materials. The pedagogical goal was to make the teachers potential SL teachers without having to rely on a third party.

The idea was (and still is) to present a model for a task that can be easily implemented in existing virtual spaces and that could be modified to suit different languages and different language skill training. Our models are of course most suited for training of spoken language skills, pronunciation, and communicative and collaborative skills. We have not used SL for teaching of written language skills, grammar or reading, not as the primary arena. Some grammar practice has been done in SL, some of the tasks in SL also included understanding the written task and some visits were made in SL in order to motivate and stimulate the students to write a descriptive text for the class. Grammar training and training of reading in languages such as North Sami require that the teacher import materials to SL, and therefore this area of language training has not been in focus on the course.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Understanding Machinima: Essays on Filmmaking in Virtual Worlds

Table of Contents

Preface -- Henry Lowood
Introduction -- Jenna Ng

I. Thinking Machinima

1. Machinima: Cinema in a minor or multitudinous key? -- William Brown and Matthew Holtmeier
2. Beyond Bullet Time: Media in the knowable space -- Chris Burke
3. Moving Digital Puppets -- Michael Nitsche, Ali Mazalek and Paul Clifton
4. Be(ing)Dazzled: Living in machinima -- Sheldon Brown
5. Facing the Audience: A dialogic perspective on the hybrid animated film -- Lisbeth Frølunde
6. The Art of Games: Machinima and the limits of art games -- Larissa Hjorth

II. Using Machinima

1. Dangerous Sim Crossings: Framing the Second Life art machinima -- Sarah Higley
2. Virtual Lens of Exposure: Aesthetics, theory and ethics of documentary filmmaking in Second   Life  -- Sandra Danilovic
3. Playing Politics: Machinima as live performance and document -- Joseph DeLappe
4. Call It a Vision Quest: Machinima in a First Nations context -- Beth Aileen Dillon and Jason Edward Lewis
5. World of Chaucer – Adaptation, Pedagogy and Interdisciplinarity -- Chris Moore and Graham Barwell
6. A Pedagogy of Craft: Teaching Kulturanalys with machinima -- Jenna Ng and James Barrett
7. Interview -- Isabelle Arvers and Jenna Ng

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sketching the Digital Project

Spatial Media Design

Spatial media design is the planning, implementation and execution of media installations that operate interactively in spaces. Something as simple as a map can be used to create spatial media, but in this course we will be using Quick Response Codes (see introduction here). Spatial media using QR-Codes build environments that are information rich. Moving through through these environments activates flows of information. Objects and places can be tagged with spatial media and if they are open public spaces then this information can be made available to many people. Spatial media, when it is done effectively places a layer of information over a physical space that is accessible to all.

Making a sketch lets you put your ideas on paper, giving them a form that can be questioned, commented on, developed and changed. Its not about making a 'good' sketch,' it is about having a conversation with yourself, and those you are working with. In this session we are going to sketch and plan a curation project that uses QR-Codes to create a mixed media museum space in the public domain.

The Tools

Pencil and paper
audio recorder
laptop computer
tablet computer
Websites (blogs, Facebook, wikis, existing sites, online archives)


·      Site
-       drawing
-       photography
-       diagrams/maps
-       archives

·      Information
-       interviews
-       texts (print, audio)
-       documents (images, records etc.)

·      Architecture
-       buildings
-       objects
-       design (both of subject and project)

·      Articulation
-       interface
-       media
-       hardware
-       software

Most of the content you will be working with will be curated; that is you must find it rather than make it.  Because you are working with curating you need to classify your materials and organize them. One possible way of organizing your materials is according to mode and location:





 Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce.

IP is divided into two categories:  Industrial property, which includes inventions (patents), trademarks, industrial designs, and geographic indications of source; and Copyright, which includes literary and artistic works such as novels, poems and plays, films, musical works, artistic works such as drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures, and architectural designs.  Rights related to copyright include those of performing artists in their performances, producers of phonograms in their recordings, and those of broadcasters in their radio and television programs.  For an introduction to IP for non-specialists, refer to:

The innovations and creative expressions of indigenous and local communities are also IP, yet because they are “traditional” they may not be fully protected by existing IP systems.  Access to, and equitable benefit-sharing in, genetic resources also raise IP questions.  Normative and capacity-building programs are underway at WIPO to develop balanced and appropriate legal and practical responses to these issues.  For more information, refer to:
  • IP and Traditional Knowledge
  • IP and Traditional Cultural Expressions/Folklore
Writing the Space
In creating the space of your exhibition I think it is worth paying attention to Alternate Reality Gaming ("An alternate reality game (ARG) is an interactive narrative that uses the real world as a platform and uses transmedia storytelling to deliver a story that may be altered by participants' ideas or actions." Wikipedia). In the development of ARGs these aspects are important:
  • Audience Analysis. Identify audience traits including age, gender, job description, cultural aspects, and other demographic considerations including team dynamics.
  • Learning Objectives and Goals. Identify the learning objectives. All activities within the environment should support the acquisition of these objectives. Link objectives and goal statements to the specific business needs. Having a clear goal in mind will help ensure a focused design.
  • Compelling Story. Create a story arc containing a beginning, middle, and end. A compelling story, combined with good writing, is a key element in a successful environment. Creating meaningful characters, and roles that players can easily relate to through their own value system, is extremely important.

Make An Alternate Reality Game! from Jane McGonigal

Consider the advice of Jane McGonigal and the articles linked above on ARG and learning when planning your spatial media project.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Folk of Digital Primitive

 This presentation is dedicated to the memory of Jack Rose (1971-2009)

A lecture in the Sonic Lecture Series at the Centrum Gallery for Contemporary Culture in Berlin.

I would like to begin by saying this presentation is not so much an attempt to define a genre of music as a somewhat personal account of an underground global network of music-makers that seem to have some things in common. Many of them know each other. The sounds they make are harder to group together. I do quote and come up with some common threads that seems to hold it all together as a genre, but there are performers within the scene who defy these as well. That is why this music is so interesting. This is a music sometimes erroneously termed 'New Weird America', erroneous mainly due to its global nature:
"The musical style described as New Weird America is derived mainly from psychedelic rock and folk groups of the 1960s and 1970s, including American performers Holy Modal Rounders and English and Scottish groups, such as Pentangle, The Incredible String Band, Donovan, and Comus. It also finds inspiration in such disparate sources as heavy metal, free jazz, electronic music, noise music, various ethnic musics, musique concrète, tropicália, and early- and mid-20th century American folk music. Another primary inspiration is outsider music, often played by technically naïve and/or socially estranged musicians, such as The Shaggs, Roky Erickson, and Jandek." - Wikpedia
As far as the tools are concerned began when between 1998-2003 major advancements were made in CD-R writing software. By 2004 it had become possible to buy a CD-R Read/Write drive for a home PC at a fairly low price. Home printers even in colour were affordable as well. The home tape culture of the 80s and 90s was thus transposed into a digital context by musicians who did not want to be famous but wanted to share and explore the sounds around them. These musicians had shared influences and substances, cultures art and ideas. Thus was born the basic arrangement for publishing your own music. This combined with the Internet opened the first stages in the freak folk global collective.
"Self publishing has always enabled challenging works of art to interact with the world while they're at their most potent. It is also a measure of artistic seriousness. And just as small press journals provided a platform for otherwise unpublishable work from the 60s and 70s, so today the increasing affordability and accessibility of home publishing and CD burning, along with the global-spanning reach of the Internet, have conspired to energise a new generation of fringe operators." - David Keenan

Burning and printing technology in action, 2005 for the Music Your Mind Will Love You release 'Yidaki Mind Tree'

The Internet and cheap home music publishing technology in the last decade has produced a global network of music made by low-fi, domestic, DIY groups and released mostly on CD-Rs by tiny music labels. Perhaps it can be said to have officially started when in August 2003 The Wire magazine published a cover story entitled "Welcome to the New Weird America: Sunburned Hand of the Man and the free folk explosion" by David Keenan:

"Loosely called free folk, the music draws on an intoxicating range of avant garde sounds, from acoustic roots to drone, ritualistic performances, Krautrock [kosmische musik], ecstatic jazz, hillbilly mountain music, psychedelia, archival blues and folk sides, Country, funk and more".
"This is improvised music that impacts on the ass as much as the third eye, that draws from mountain music, Country blues, HipHop, militant funk and psychedelia as much as free jazz".
"Mostly based outside of the major US cities, disparate, culturally disenfranchised cells have begun to telegraph between each other, forming alliances via limited handmade releases and a vast subterranean network of samizdat publications, musicians - and fun-run labels and distributors" 

The present day bone and electricity groups follow in the footsteps of such luminaries as John Fahey, Sun City Girls, Can, Faust, Albert Ayler, Henry Flynt, Pauline Oliveros, The Incredible String Band, The Flower Travelling Band, Os Mutantes, the rediscovered Vashti Bunyan (who re-emerged with her one solo album from 1970 in the 21st century to become a inspiration for the new fold) and the seminal Tower Recordings

"Everyone on the bill is into freedom on a social level, on a spiritual level and - especially - on a musical level". Matthew Valentine, of Tower Recordings on the 2003 Brattleboro Free Folk Festival.

Described by one label as "modern improvised outsider music" (We Have No Zen) the genre can be defined by it being:

Mobile - compact devices, looping and sampling technologies, acoustic  instruments and voice combined with digital production, homeless artists, touring forever, street musicians,

Networked -  blogs, net labels with mail order, streaming sites, forums, zines, transient members operating in collectives under various names

Global - fake-ethno, Indian, African and Arab musical structures mixed with traditional folk music, blues, progressive patterns, joined by the World Wide Web with tours organized by email and MySpace not by agents or management, artists often based in small towns or rural collectives (not urban),

Hybrid: digital sampling combined with home made or instruments from the furtherest reaches of the globe.

Spiritual: Connection to and veneration of nature. trance inducing music (drones, repetitive rhythms, chanting and rounds), described by some as a "potential catalyst for social change," with an attention to the "roar of the cosmos" (Keenan), and the "organic" (John Molony from Sunburned). Lyrics that pay attention to inner states, with holistic and non-rational imagery often drawn from themes association with nature. Ritualistic performances, often where a single element such as a central drummer, directs the progression of the music and action. Attention to set and setting for music.

Crafted: The performances are improvised and individual and cannot be repeated, the recordings are often marketed in limited editions and are described as being 'handmade' and numbered , with artwork added to CDs and instruments that are made, modified and re-tuned, DIY everything from tours to growing your own food.

"More than color and forms, it is sounds and their arrangements that fashion societies. With noise it is born disorder and its opposite: the world. With music is born power and its opposite: subversion. In noise can we read the codes of life, the relations among men. Clamor, Melody, Dissonance, Harmony: when it is fashioned by man with specific tools, when it invades man's time, when it becomes sound, noise is the source of purpose and power, of the dream - Music." - Jacques Attali, Noise: The Political Economy of Music p6

Collectives and Performers 

Labels and Publishers

This is a sonic collective between the intersecting Internet communities of these bands, the sounds they make and the creative arts model they represent. This is not an urban avant-garde but a diffuse collection of people who came of age in a world were boarders were changing and sounds were free. Many live outside the major centres (New Zealand and Finland being two centres of the genre) and communicate and publicise their work via the Net. First will CD-Rs, touring, mail order and creative exchanging then later with dowloading, uploading, forums and streamed media. These networked technologies have created a global network of digital primitives who play the sort of folk music that is dependent upon the digital and the Internet, freedom, openness and curiosity. A global blog network exists where information and downloads are posted.


We Have No Zen 
aldea f.
Thunder Gongz
During 20011-12 the Mp3 blog scene has taken a beating with servers closed and writs given. Many of the blogs that fuelled the heights of the freak folk wave have passed on. These days file sharing sites have taken on some of the space from the departure of the Mp3 blogs. Once should perhaps acknowledge at this stage the great SoulSeek community of file sharing that set the flame to the wick of a global community in 2006.
"That's what I think the free folk ethos is, people who have stuck to their laurels, producing the most completely independent music, free of the confines of popularity, scenes or movements, and concentrating on focusing on their own art and voice and dedicating themselves to that".  - Matthew Valentine, 2003 Brattleboro Free Folk Festival.
In its present state the free freak folk scene has uploaded itself in response to the ease of streaming music online. The CD-R may have opened the door but the sound is now in the aether and all around us. Sites such as the Free Music Archive and Soundcloud are now providing the means of presentation, publication and archiving for outsider musicians who draw inspiration for folk and ethno, punk and prog trance.  Download sites like the recent New Weird Australia provide free albums. These sites join, MySpace and Facebook as online repositories for the sounds of now. the other great festival for the community is Terrastock;

"Terrastock is not just a festival, it’s a family. There’s a feeling of community that you won’t get anywhere else and you can’t help but feel caught up in it all. This isn’t Boneroo, Lollapalooza, or Austin City Limits. People aren’t here for spectacle or to be seen – they are here for the music and the community that surrounds the psych genre whose umbrella is the zine Ptolemaic Terrascope. That sense of community extends from the biggest acts to the smallest" Terrastock 7.
"All music, any organization of sounds is then a tool for the creation or consolidation of a community, a totality. It is what links a power centre to its subjects, and thus more generally, it is an attribute of power in all of its forms" Jacques Attali, Noise: The Political Economy of Music p6.

"Is this folk music? Maybe so. When it comes down to it, folk is any music sung and played because people want to play it. Folk music is heart and soul, not brain and pocketbook, whether performed solo by a Senegalese kora player, or a group wielding digital samplers, toy pianos, and electric sitars". Folk Music's New Genre Benders, UtNE 2004
In my experience  of this culture the people involved in it are not New Age, not really hippies, not drug fuelled travellers. These are often quite angry people who are conscious of the state of the world today, who see a global society emerging, and feel they have something to contribute with sound, but do not want to play the fame game. They are craft folk, who make their music for each other, who see it as a way of life rather than a way to pay the bills. Some actively ignore fame. Many are well educated and channel that into their performance. Community is very important in this culture. The state of song is perhaps more so.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Presentation Formats and Techniques on the Internet


Digital Rhetoric
Rhetoric with so-called "born-digital" texts demands skills and forms of expression that are radically different from works that are digitized or that employ remediated authoring methods.
"According to their book Remediation: Understanding New Media by J. David Bolter and Richard A. Grusin, remediation is a defining characteristic of new digital media because digital media is constantly remediating its predecessors (television, radio, print journalism and other forms of old media). Remediation can be complete or visible. A film based on a book is remediating the printed story. The film may not provide any reference to the original medium or acknowledgement that it is an adaptation. By attempting to absorb the old medium entirely, the new medium presents itself without any connection to its original source. On the other hand, a medium such as a movie clip can torn out of context and inserted into a new medium such as music. Bolter and Grusin describe this as visible remediation because, "The work becomes a mosaic in which we are simultaneously aware of the individual pieces' and their new, inappropriate setting."(New New Media Wiki)
The born-digital work "refers to materials that originate in a digital form. This is in contrast to digital reformatting, through which analog materials become digital. It is most often used in relation to digital libraries and the issues that go along with said organizations, such as digital preservation and intellectual property. However, as technologies have advanced and spread, the concept of being born-digital has also been discussed in relation to personal consumer-based sectors, with the rise of e-books and evolving digital music. Other terms that might be encountered as synonymous include “natively digital,” “digital-first,” and “digital-exclusive'" (Wikipedia). 

Authoring the born-digital text demands a skill set the includes those needed for the analogue texts. So how should one think about rhetoric in relation to born-digital texts? Of course it is simpler to break it down into the reading practices that can be associated with the media. The visual includes moving and still images, along with 3D navigable spaces and all the dynamics that can be coded into written text using digital media. One has to only consider the speed and movement of Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries to see how words become images in a born-digital work:

The visuals in a Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries are entirely made up of the written word, but amount to more than that in reception. With rhythm, dimensions and addressive syntax, an experience is created for the reader that is very different from reading written words on a page. The role of audio in this experience cannot be understated.

Sound is an important consideration in any born-digital work. Sound creates space, contextualizes objects, provides rhythm for the text and guides the reader along a set path of interpretation. Ignoring sound in the authoring process is to present a digital work without its legs.

The creation of space is achieved with the visual and the audile, but relies on the interrelated quality of perspective. Perspective is a vast field of knowledge. Sufficient to say the era of the marriage between realism and quattrocento perspective in the Western Hemisphere is coming to an end.

ur perception of space is dominated by perspective, in the sense of a reduction of the projected size of objects with distance. One of the key jobs of the visual brain is to decode this size diminution as distance in the third dimension, or egocentric distance. If the eye were a pinhole cameras, the projection of the world onto the back plane would be in perfect linear perspective (and in perfect focus). The succession of images projected on the curved retina within the eye what Leonardo da Vinci termed natural perspective, a series of distorted projections that needs to be integrated over time in a representation in the brain as the eye moves around the scene. How the brain decodes the information in natural perspective into an accurate appreciation of the spatial layout has yet to be resolved. (Principles of Perspective)

Natural perspective is gradually being coded by digital media in the current age. Rhetoric is the body of knowledge that forms this coding.

Key Elements in Online Presentation:
- Distinguish between live presentation (synchronous) and archived presentation (asynchronous)
In many presentations you will combine synchronous with asynchronous, as the results of your live presentation in person; slides, notes or a recording (audio/visual) will be distributed online. Intellectual property should be considered in all presentations, but if the presentation is to be stored online, it is vital. How do you want recordings of your presentation, or anything you present in digital form to be distributed? there are many ways; blog, YouTube, Slideshare, Twitter, podcast, Scribd to name but a few channels.
- Combine your physical presence with the dynamism and velocity of the materials you present.
Digital media relies on feedback and how it captures change using digital programming, and responding to inputs from users, either as physical interaction or coded commands. When using digital media for presentations you should consider yourself, your body and cognitive assets part of the programming environment. Share the space with the media. Act in it and present the material according to how you want it to change and develop.
  - Control and lack of control in the presentation should be considered consciously.
The famous example of a certain well known social media researcher who spoke at a large and prestigious gathering with a Twitter feed behind her. The presenter was unaware that unkind things were being posted on the Twitter feed as she spoke. Laughter and a distracted audience followed:
"The Twitter stream was initially upset that I was talking too fast. My first response to this was: OMG, seriously? That was it? Cuz that’s not how I read the situation on stage. So rather than getting through to me that I should slow down, I was hearing the audience as saying that I sucked. And responding the exact opposite way the audience wanted me to. This pushed the audience to actually start critiquing me in the way that I was imagining it was."
This is an example of the back-channel dictating how the 'front-channel' develops in a presentation. It is becoming increasingly common that a presentation will be online live, along with audience reactions and commentaries.You should be aware of how the back-channel is manifest during a presentation and make an effort to at least participate in it or be aware of how it is developing.
 - Context is important and you should always be aware of it.
First and foremost context is determined by; "Who is the audience?" In good digital presentations the audience will be with the presenter in the space (as a result of perspective and temporal representation).  Digital presentations, even in the archive, are more like a discussion (think of comments on a blog) and you have to be speaking the same language in order for a conversation take place. This is related to the issue of control, the personification of the Twitter stream mentioned above being a specific example. Context can be divided into fixed elements (e.g. the building or location of the presentation does not change during the presentation) and non-fixed (e.g. speaking for two hours to a group of 18 year old people on the subject of the Franco-Prussian War of 1871 will produced changes in the waking states of the audience as a presentation context).
 - Consider the space the presentation creates.
A space is created when one makes a digital presentation . If it works well the space is occupied by the audience, the presenter and what is presented. Digital media has the potential to engulf people and provide a scene for actors and actions in a narrative. 

This digital presentation is taking place in three locations: inside Second Life, over a live video stream and in the physical space of HUMlab. It exists today as an archived stream.

- Copyright defines a professional presentation. 
Sharing is central to digitally mediated presentations. We share online all the time; publishing on blogs, uploading documents to Scribd, a video to YouTube, photos to Flickr or Facebook. Audio can be shared on SoundCloud, AudioBoo or Ourmedia, Libsyn, Globat & Powweb. If you are presenting in a professional context you must obey copyright law. Open Source and Creative Commons are two important tools for stock content to use in your presentations. Creative Commons licenses provide a flexible range of protections and freedoms for authors, artists, and educators. Open Source content allows presenters to use music, images and films, along with editing software without the need of licensing.
 From this point we can move on to the role of social media in digital presentations

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hypertext as Presentation Technique

Hypertext is text displayed on a computer or other electronic device with references (hyperlinks) to other text that the reader can immediately access, usually by a mouse click or keypress sequence. Apart from running text, hypertext may contain tables, images and other presentational devices. Hypertext is the underlying concept defining the structure of the World Wide Web.

Techne resembles epistēmē in the implication of knowledge of principles, although techne differs in that its intent is making or doing, as opposed to ‘disinterested understanding’” - Wikipedia

When we think in language, or even in images, we tend to think sequentially according to the laws of grammar or the linear progression of film montage. Montage is a technique in film editing in which a series of short shots are edited into a sequence to condense space, time, and information. It is usually used to suggest the passage of time, rather than to create symbolic meaning as it does in Soviet montage theory.
"Cinematic montage is not uniform, however; it has its Modernism and PostModernism as well. Modernist practice is most often discussed in relation to Eisenstein's theory and practice. Lev Manovich takes the core of classic cinematic montage to be dissonance: "Montage aims to create visual stylistic, semantic, and emotion dissonance between different elements," and this he contrasts to compositing, which is the blending of elements into a single, seamless whole (144). It is obvious that Manovich's "montage" is the temporal equivalent of what we have been calling collage." Hypertext as Rhizome, Montage and Collage
With hypertext new techniques are possible for composition. Hypertext can be composted of tree, collage, rhizome, spiral, circular, or chain structures.  However the flow of hypertext proceeds the human organism can only perceive information in a set number of ways. These are dependent upon the senses: sight (ophthalmoception), hearing (audioception), taste (gustaoception), smell (olfacoception or olfacception), and touch (tactioception), other senses include temperature (thermoception), kinesthetic sense (proprioception), pain (nociception), balance (equilibrioception) and acceleration (kinesthesioception), that we use to make sense of the world. 

So let us consider the limitations of the human sense system in relation to hypertext.

The pattern of focal points says that people will first look at the most dominant element (the element or area with the greatest visual weight) on the page.
From there the eye will follow paths from the dominant element to other focal points in the design. The order will depend on the relative weights of these focal points as well as any visual cues indicating where to look next.

Several layout patterns are often recommended to take advantage of how people scan or read through a design. Three of the more common are the Gutenberg diagram, the z-pattern layout, and the f-pattern layout.

"Consider the Gutenberg diagram is assist in layout and composition when the elements are evenly distributed and homogeneous, or the design contains heavy use of text. Otherwise, use the weight and composition of elements to lead the eye."
Universal Principles of Design by William Lidwell, Kritina Holden and Jill Butler
Reading gravity pulls the curious users’ eyes from the top-left to the bottom-right of a layout. It is a natural human habit to scan something quickly before focusing all of our attention on it. We want to read the blurb of a book before delving into its contents. We tend to watch film trailers before paying to see them at the cinema. Demos for games and software, singles from music albums—the list goes on. It’s common practice to want a taste of something before giving it full attention—it’s why all great stories start and end with action or drama to draw us in and keep us entertained throughout the full experience. We can apply this psychology to graphics and interface design and the Gutenberg Rule is all about just that. We know that we have a certain amount of time, wording, graphics and pixel-space to grab our user (returning or otherwise) and convince them into further reading, so designing an interface to accommodate for this is a science within itself.

This website is an excellent example of the Gutenberg Rule in use.

On the other hand Västerbottens Kuriren does not seem to be aware of the Gutenberg Rule with the headline half way down the left hand side of the page, no anchor in the left top corner and nothing stopping the readers eye in the bottom right. Each column operates independently of the others.

The z-pattern layout follows the shape of the letter z. Readers will start in the top/left, move horizontally to the top/right and then diagonally to the bottom/right before finishing with another horizontal movement to the bottom/right.

The z-pattern is sometimes called a reverse-s-pattern, which might indicate more of a curved path as opposed to the hard angled path. Otherwise they’re basically the same thing.
The main difference with the Gutenberg diagram is that the z-pattern suggests viewers will pass through the two fallow areas. Otherwise they still start and end in the same places and still pass through the middle.

As with Gutenberg a designer would place the most important information along the pattern’s path.
The z-pattern is good for simple designs with a few key elements that need to be seen. Any storytelling aspect of the design would follow the path of the z.

We can extend this pattern a little by seeing it more as a series of z-movements instead of one big z-movement. Common sense would dictate this is more realistic as the reader will continue to move to the right and then a little down and back to the left before starting another horizontal movement to the right again. It’s how we naturally read large blocks of text. This series of z-movements is sometimes referred to as a zig-zag pattern. If we continue to add more zigs and zags to the pattern we ultimately end up with a series of near horizontal right and left movements as the diagonal portion of the z gets shallower and shallower.

The z-pattern also leads to what’s called a golden triangle pattern. If you take the first horizontal and first diagonal movement and then close the shape you end up with a right triangle whose right angle is the top/left corner. This triangular area at the top of the page will be the area most seen and the pattern suggests your most important information needs to placed inside of it.

The f-pattern gets mentioned on the web and as you would expect it follows the shape of the letter F.
I think Jacob Nielsen first suggested the pattern after eye-tracking studies his company performed. What often gets lost in the f-pattern is that these original studies were done on text heavy designs and search results.
As with the other patterns the eye starts in the top/left, moves horizontally to the top/right and then comes back to the left edge before making another horizontal sweep to the right. This second sweep won’t extend as far as the first sweep.
Additional sweeps move less and less to the right and for the most part after the second major sweep the eye sticks close to the left edge as it moves downs.
The f-pattern suggests that:
  • Important information should be placed across the top of the design where it will generally be read.
  • Lesser information should be placed along the left edge of the design often in bullet points where little horizontal eye movement is required to take everything in.
  • People don’t read online. They scan.
Unfortunately the pattern seems to get applied to everything online instead of only text-heavy content. When applying the f-pattern think scanners and place content these scanners would most likely be interested in along the F. Place important information at the top and information designed to pull someone further into the page down the side. However keep in mind that if someone scanning your page finds it interesting, they will read so you can place information in places outside the F for those people who will read.
Both z-pattern and Gutenberg end in the same place and move through the middle. The reason the f-pattern doesn’t reach the end can be explained by.
  • Having content that doesn’t fully interest and engage the reader. Sadly true of most online content.
  • Writing with an inverted pyramid style, which expects to lose readers as they move down the page.
  • People scanning to determine if they want to read more.
Odds are any visitor who finds your content absorbing will want to read more and break out of the f-pattern reaching the terminal area.
One last point is that as these patterns are discussed more it leads to more designs emphasizing the pattern. If you’re convinced your readers will follow one of these patterns, you’ll likely create designs that enhance that pattern. It leads to a chicken and egg scenario.

More on patterning, reading and design here.

The link goes far beyond simply being a mechanical element of hypertext. The link is part of design and provides meaning in digital hypertext just as montage can in film. “Hypertext is text with links, or pointers, showing relationships between parts of the information. Hypermedia extends this concept - information with links - to collections including text, audio, video, photographs, or any multi-sensory combination” (Alessi & Trollop, 2001:138). If a link opens a new section for reading and navigation, whoever opens that link will relate it is some way to the previous section in the hypertext.

Harrison (2002) explores the semantic and rhetorical principles underlying link development of web sites and proposes a systematic, comprehensive classification of link types that could be of use to researchers and Web production teams:

  • Authorizing: Describes an organization's legal, formal policies, contact information, etc. that authenticate the site and its content.
  • Commenting: Provides opinion about the site and/or its content.
  • Enhancing: Provides more factual information about site content by offering greater detail or painting the "bigger picture."
  • Exemplifying: Provides a specific example of content within a broader category.
  • Mode-Changing: Moves users from the reading mode to one that requires a different kind of activity.
  • Referencing/Citing: Provides information that "informs" or supplements the site's content.
  • Self-Selecting: Allows users to narrow a search by making choices based on their age, sex, geographical location, life situation, personal interests, and so on ([1], retrieved 18:47, 6 November 2006 (MET))
In the history of hypertext we can distinguish "minimal" technology such as HTML and systems that provide a richer set of link types. E.g. the XLink standard which did/does not have much success with industry defines a whole lot of linking attributes.
Simple links
  • One element on the screen/document (e.g. a word or a button) points to another screen or other element within the loaded screen/document. After clicking the link, current content is replaced by target content. These are links that one can find in HTML (web contents).
Complex links
There are many, e.g.:
  • Fat (multi-tailed) links: a fat link can open several windows simultaneously with one click of the mouse.
  • Multiple-choice links: the user can choose among several options from a menu.
  • Labelled links: A user can see what a link is good for (e.g. "example", "theory", "further reading", "reference", etc.)
  • Aggregations: (include various smaller documents into a single text)
  • Inclusions: A link that expands contents in place to include other contents.
  • Transclusion: A text that is composed as an aggregation of other text. E.g. in a wiki one  can build pages out of other pages by using syntax
  • Bilinks: See AboutUs:BiLinks

Alessi & Trollop (2001:155) suggest to pay attention to a few factors when creating hyperlinks of various forms, which we shortly outline here:
Object types of links
  • Word links are easy to spot but decrease readability and influence on browsing behavior ()
  • Links in pictures and videos may be less easy to spot depending on how they are made
Purpose of links
  • Clearly, links should be used for a reason. Firstly, there should a general concept about the media type to be constructed (e.g. see the overview of genres below) and then there should a be a use case analysis (what it will be used for) in terms of one or several instructional design models.
Density of links
  • For reference works, it's in principle a good a idea to include many links (e.g. like in this blog)
  • However, in education one may limit links in texts that should be read in its entirety, or only show them after explicit request or some other control function (e.g. learner level). There is actually a lot of research on adaptive hypertext
Visibility of links
  • Links should be clearly visible, however there is a trade off with readability.
  • In general, one should not users require to move the mouse over an object that then will highlight in order to find available links. A compromise, might be a visibility of links turn on/off button. In a modern web browser this is very easy to implement.
Screen Location
  • In particular menu links should be placed in standard locations (e.g. on top or to the left)
  • The authors put several things into this category, e.g.
  • Confirmation of link selection (not activation): E.g. display a mouse-over effect. Then the links can for example offer a preview, or let the user display contents in different locations. (In web browsers, the latter functionality is the right-click menu, and the further can be implement with Javascript.
Finally, one also may ask confirmation from the user to open or navigate to different sites.
  • Recently selected links can be specially mark (e.g. by default, word links in web browsers change color from blue to violet)
  • One also can implement user trails, i.e. display somewhere a list or the path of visited links. Typically, this is implemented in shopping applications like Amazon (also in a wiki, if you use a login).
Semantic Cueing
  • A semantic cue identifies the relation to the link target or at least its kind (e.g. use a color code or little icons that characterize the links)
  • Other options are to use a menu or to display links relationships in a separate window with a concept graph.
  • This is partly same issue as above, partly the problem that in education it's a difficult decision whether you can rely on external links. For example if you teach about hypertext in education, would you trust a third party to keep a source online?
  • Typically in web design, one tries to make a distinction between internal and external links (e.g. this is being done in this wiki). However the question whether we trust other people to keep their links online is a very difficult one.
  • In earlier systems users were able to modify or at least to annotate a hypertext. Also they could add links.
  • In more recent hypermedia (including most web pages) this is not usually the case. A wiki is the exception.
  • There is a difference between hypermedia that can be changed, those that can be annotated and those where the changes are only seen by the user who made those changes (the latter version is the most difficult to implement). Annotation systems are successfully used in education, e.g. the Diplo Foundation uses annotation of online text as primary teaching medium.