I first read this essay in the early 1990s, before social networking, wikipedia or blogging were the dominant phenomena of the internet.  At that moment in time, the focus on the “link” and the interconnectivity of texts represented by stand-alone hypertexts (like those in Storyspace) and the early web had our curiousity.

Part of what compels me still about this essay, aside from its prescience, is the interesting in a kind of reading / linking machine. As Ted Nelson’s Xanadu project and essays would argue, if the web has exceeded this vision in some ways, in others it has not yet lived up to the challenge or desire of such a reading machine.  So in part I like revisiting Bush or Nelson as ‘thought-experiments’ in what digital textuality can be imagined to be — apart from what it is or seems, mostly, to be at the moment.

Too much journalism and even pedagogical research looks at the current configurations, and their most obvious uses, taking those as a given and essentially letting the tools themselves drive the uses.  One wants to make use of the blog or wiki, but at the same time think against the grain a little bit about the practices that we find interesting or compelling or which we need to be a bit creative to explore with the current tools.

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The journal-like format of the blog can make it a really attractive space for carrying on a conversation, whether it is one author primarily “holding forth” or a group blog.  For me, the sequential format and ease of posting invite a fairly casual posting practice. You don’t usually outline or prepare a blog post before composing. It also tends to be a reflective space, in part because of the provisional format — but also perhaps because the genre encourages moderate-length postings, comments, and follow-up posts.

The schedule for this summer term will make our blog use a bit unusual — in that we’ll have lots of time to discuss things face-to-face, and fewer hours in between to gather thoughts.  Still we’ll see what use we can make of it as a reflective space, for overview and comments on class, readings, etc.

I’ll plan on starting posts for each of the nightly readings here.  If you complete the reading before I’ve done so, feel free to start the thread yourself.  I would like you to comment on these, adding questions or reflections.  You can also, at any time, author your own post on a different topic or approach.

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