A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Clarkson University

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After Hypertext

The final decade of the last century witnessed the dramatic rise of hypertext as a literary, technical, social, and intellectual phenomenon. Today, despite the fact that hypertext provides the conceptual underpinnings for the World Wide Web (among other things), 'hypertext' remains a relatively peripheral term. In this talk, I'll track some of the ways that 'hypertext' has been articulated during the last five decades, describing how the social construction of hypertext inscribed the technology(ies) in limiting and ultimately self-defeating ways. I'll then attempt to track (and construct) some possible futures for a dramatically redefined hypertext, one constructed as an 'ethic of reference' within and among social communities rather than a technical practice.

Johnson-Eilola, Johndan. Clarkson University (2001). Articles>Information Design>Hypertext


Constructing the Flattened Self: After Postmodernism in Computer Interfaces   (PowerPoint)

Since this is going to be a wild ride across a some disciplines that don’t normally talk to each other, let me start with a short, structural overview to get everyone situated. I’m going to begin by defining some terms. They’re all relatively simple, common terms, but I’m going to attempt to bring them together in a particular configuration; in order for that configuration to make sense, I need to settle on some loose definitions and, at the same time, make the terms relevant to our discussion. Next--and this is probably the bulk of the talk--I’ll be outlining a geneaology of work, particularly as it relates to interface design. In this history, I’m interested in understanding, from a critical perspective, what happens to work as it increasingly takes place within the computer interface. I’ll say here that the end of this history is where the terms “postmodernism,” “work,” and “interface” come together. Finally, I’ll offer some suggestions—and examples—of ways that we -- as teachers, researchers, designers, communicators -- can begin to deal productively with some of the problems I see with how interfaces are currently being designed and used.

Johnson-Eilola, Johndan. Clarkson University (2000). Articles>Information Design>Hypertext>Theory


Copyright Matters Online   (PowerPoint)

A PowerPoint presentation on recent developments in intellectual property law, and their cultural significance to content producers and consumers.

Johnson-Eilola, Johndan. Clarkson University (2001). Articles>Intellectual Property>Copyright


Datacloud: Expanding the Roles and Locations of Information   (PDF)

This presentation traces the locations and roles of computer documentation over the latter half of the 20th century in order to construct a model of information/knowledge space as it relates to different forms of work. The paper then provides suggestions about future forms of documentation and interface based on ethnographic research of workers in recently emerging forms of work, including nonlinear audio/video production and videogame playing. The final section of the paper provides concrete suggestions about forms of documentation and interface that will be required to support these new forms of work.

Johnson-Eilola, Johndan. Clarkson University (2001). Articles>Information Design>Hypertext


Little Machines: Rearticulating Hypertext Users

In recognizing ourselves as computer users, we are also articulated (at least partially) as the used, the variable piece of the machine that closes the circuit, like a key in the ignition of a car. We are happiest when our technologies when they work automatically, when the machine appears to anticipate our every desire. The machine is never completely absent from our attention, but it is becoming increasingly difficult--pointless, it seems--to think critically about the operations of the machine and our position within it. We don't think often about the ways in which the technology (and the larger, social technical system) construct users in ways that presuppose a simple, mechanistic model of efficiency and value. If the programmers have done their work well, we reason, then we shouldn't have to think. Functional hypertexts (online documention, references, tutorials) are defined, socially and politically, in this politics of amnesia.

Johnson-Eilola, Johndan. Clarkson University (1995). Articles>Rhetoric>Hypertext


Open Source Practices and Technical Communication Programs   (PowerPoint)

Structural differences among different resource formats impede efforts to develop a learning community. With OSS, education issues/critique include media, medium, and message. OSS complicates framework issues.

Faber, Brenton D. and Johndan Johnson-Eilola. Clarkson University (2002). Presentations>TC>Open Source


Space | Action | Movement: Understanding Composition as Architecture

We have long understood the term writing as simultaneously an object and an event. We do writing, we are writing texts, we are reading a piece of writing, we are talking about a writer's writing, things that were written and are also, simultaneously, writing. But while the term 'writing' seems to do a wonderful job of capturing both object and action--what Louise Phelps once termed both the dancer and the dance--we still continue to treat those artifacts--the objects of writing, as relatively inert and external objects. In other words, we have succeeded in articulating the term 'writing' as either an action or an object, we have done less well in thinking about writing as a space in which action takes place. We have done less well in teaching our students (and ourselves) to think about writing as spaces for collaborative action. We have done less well at replacing the either/or with the and/and/and, as Deleuze and Guattari (among others) put it.

Johnson-Eilola, Johndan. Clarkson University (1999). Articles>Writing>Design

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