How do you language a hyperlink?

I’m going to use this space here tonight to try and think through another kind of writing I’m doing in my thesis, so bear with me. Any comments, advice, encouragment, and/or ways to procrastinate are welcome. Who knows, maybe you and this blog will make it into my thesis in my ‘reflection on methodology and my own changing literac(ies)’ chapter….! 

Michael Wesch’s video “The Machine is Us/Ing Us” 2007

An ecologist explores how writers interact to form systems: all the characteristics of any individual writer or piece of writing both determine and are determined by the characteristics of all the other writers and writings in the systems.”  ~Marilyn Cooper, 1984 in “Writing as Social Action”

The Perpetual Beta Internet software is not a static artifact but rather a process of engagement with users. Users are treated as co-developers and the software is developed continuously and out in the open. Companies thus harness the “collective intelligence” of the web users to make sure their software gets better each time it is used. ~ Summary of Tim O’Reily’s defintion of Web 2.0 2005 and 2006

So here’s my conundrum: I have this section of my Master’s thesis that I am working on that simply won’t be written. I don’t mean I can’t write it, in that I don’t want to or have writers block. I’ve been there and this is totally different. It simply won’t be written. I mean written, in this case, in a traditional linear form with claims and evidence and analysis, with citations as flashpoints and my own “creative” act as the primary force. The part that won’t be written is part of an attempt to define web 2.0 within my project, but not only to define it, but to bring together different disciplinary ways of knowing and understanding web 2.0, not to mention different modes and platforms in which these ways of knowing are articulated. I’ve got a scholarly text written in 1984 by a composition scholar, 2 blogs written by Tim O’Reilly  from 2005 and 2006 respectively, and a 2007 YouTube video by an anthropology professor. Up to this point my way of writing has been a nearly simultaneous act of data collection, connection, questions, and articulations of claims that has somehow worked together to get me 45 pages of semi-polished draft and about 100 pages of notes/fragments/nodes/lists of questions/notices/reflections/freewrites. For these 45 pages the method has worked. For these pages that refuse to be written it hasn’t.

I’ve realized that at least part of my struggle here has to do with the fact that I’m limited by the word-processing page that I’m constrained to. I need hyperlinks, I need images, I need contigent and fluid meanings. I need the ability to show the reader the connections that I am making are tentative, contigent, and ultimately situated with my way of reading these texts since for every 1 thing that my connection articulates, it obscures or elides 2 others. I’ve got a mind map of circles and arrows and phrases that visually shows what I want to say. But what the work of a scholarly thesis demands of me seems at odds with this portion of my project. (For instance, I can only use one font in the body of my text, per graduate school guidelines.) So how to work around all this? I need to language these tentative and contigent connections. I need to language a hyperlink. I need to language my choice and arrangement of data without necessarily unpacking or explaining the data in the way a traditional essayist mode would expect. What this also means is that this section cannot be exactly a part of my thesis – it must be an inserted gif file, named and titled as a “Figure” as if this section of work itself were not my own but a citation. Maybe that’s appropriate, since with this chunk the point is not the creative work I am doing but the connections I am drawing. I have to further fragment texts that are already fragmented and put them back together without precluding other connections. Each fragment needs to be inserted into a “web of connotations and codes” as Johndan Johnson- Eilola puts it. I need to draw attention to the fact that, according to articulation theory, each of these fragments means not automatically but because of what it is connected to. The work, then, needs to not only reveal what my position in rhet/comp makes into the contigent meaning, but to perform that contigent meaning as well. The pieces above are just one example of the fragments of works I need to reconfigure and link. What’s missing is the link. But how do I language a link?

OK, so maybe all of this has really been dancing around the real question. Maybe the problem is not the languaging of the link, instantiating the connection between fragments, but in justifying doing this at all. I suppose I have the sense that I need to defend my reasoning behind this approach. The discourse — despite our professed comfort, acceptance, and even enthusiasm for a pomo sensibility — still seems to privelege the linear text with a strong authorial voice, to privelege the act of composing over the act of connecting. That’s not wholly fair, of course, we’re not a bunch of ostrichs with our heads in the sand (at least not here at Western). But still, every text I’ve read that does something different has to explain how and why. However you cut it, its justification. So what’s my justification?


3 Responses to “How do you language a hyperlink?”

  1. 1 cathymcdonald
    January 17, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    I’m reading a current article in 3C’s that is a “re-vision” (the section that reconsiders significant former articles in the journal) of a 1998 Joswph Janangelo article called “Joseph Cornell and the Artistry of Composing Persuasive Hypertexts.” The original article seems to have been about his use of an artist named Cornell, whom Janangelo extends to theorize the use of hypertext in student writing.

    The new article, “Rethinking Joseph Janangelo…” is a collection of commentaries by Wysocki, Brooke, Rice, and Janangelo himself. You should check it out.

    The bottom line, of course, is that institutions move like dragons, and graduate school style manuals MUST catch up to new media writing. What will begin to make that happen? Certainly the need must come from students like you and professors like Nicole.

    (On another topic, what picture shows up when I comment?)

  2. 2 cathymcdonald
    January 17, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    (Disregard the last question. It got answered when I hit “submit” and I saw it myself. It’s Tiger Lily!! When she was helping me read my dissertation manuscript. Such a literate cat!

  3. 3 mandamarie
    January 17, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Fabulous Cathy – thanks. I will certainly check it out. Perhaps it will help me contextualize what I’m doing. It is, after all, only a small section of my thesis but its sort of become the focal point for the opportunity to DO what I’m trying to DESCRIBE.

    I love how you liken institutions to dragons. Does that make Nicole and I the dragon-slayers? haha. (It’s an ironic analogy though, since last quarter I was likening my thesis to a fire-breathing dragon that had me in its clutches. I think we’ve come to agreement now, me and this unruly monster. At least for the moment.)

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