Week 9: IF and Community Building

Today we'll take a quick glimpse at a fun pseudo-IF piece called Wikihistory — looks like the literary world is getting into the interactive/collaborative groove! Then Claudia will show us Soap Zone, Tauri will present an IF community, Josh will give us a tour of Protagonize, and Sharon will find us something tasty, too.

Then we'll look at a short article called Six Conditions that Form Online Communities. How do the six conditions apply to the community and the content we're creating? Are there more conditions we can identify and implement?

For the rest of class, I'll hold a writing mechanics clinic for anyone who wants help.

  1. Add at least three ideas for the BECA Online Community to the class wiki. Each idea should include a link to an example. Be sure to include your name at the end of your entries.
  2. Write one blog post (500 words, three links, one image/video/sound file, proofread).
  3. Play a lot, rest a lot, and do a lot of something that makes you happy over break — I'll give a quiz on that if I have to!


Week 8: Catch-Up Day

Yikes, what a week! I've been getting so many frantic SOS signals from the class (PC/FTP problems, among other disasters) that I think we ought to have a hyperventilation-prevention day — take care of tech issues, tidy up the IF pieces, and catch up on IF reviews.

We'll also spend some time covering the Writing Mechanics handout.

I was hoping to bring in a few therapists to help us all recover this week, or maybe a reflexology massage expert, or at least some tarot-card readers, but I'm afraid you're going to have to settle for just me. (Though I did work as a phone-psychic for a while, so maybe you'll get that tarot reading after all.) In any case, remember what the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy says, and DON'T PANIC!

  1. Fix anything that needs fixing on your IF piece (minimum length, links working, etc.). Please post a comment to today's Class Blog (Week 8) with a link to your IF, even if you already posted it last time. Everyone should post a link on Week 8.
  2. Catch up on your 3 electronic-literature reviews (see last week's homework instructions). Please post them on this week's Class Blog (Week 8).
  3. Read the next 5 blogs on the class blogroll (pick up where you left off) and leave intriguing, compelling, discussion-furthering, blog-enhancing comments with at least one link for your fellow bloggers on their most current post.


Week 7: Interactive Fiction/Hyperfiction

Today Grant will introduce us to the NBC Heroes wiki community and possibly also a San Francisco community wiki; and Caleb and Amanda will present wiki communities as well.

Then we'll kick off the Interactive Fiction segment by learning basic webpage creation. This means learning a bit more HTML and also understanding how to upload to your SFSU webspace.

Here's a template for creating a very simple HTML document. Click the link to open it as a web page, then do View Page Source (command-U, or use the Firefox "View" pulldown menu) to see the code. If you're feeling ambitious and would like to do fancier HTML, w3schools has excellent tutorials with a view-as-you-do function that makes it really easy to experiment.

Here are the basic steps for uploading your .html documents to the SFSU server:
  1. Create your document in TextEdit (on Mac) or Notepad (on PC) and save it with a .html suffix (mypage1.html). Be sure TextEdit or Notepad is set to "plain text" and not "rich text" or any other fancy stuff.
  2. Open Fetch or other FTP program. Log in to your SFSU account (hostname orion.sfsu.edu, pluto.sfsu.edu, or apollo.sfsu.edu).
  3. Open your public.html folder. Choose "New Folder" and name the new folder "storyfolder" or whatever you choose. Double-click the new folder to open it (it will be empty). NOTE: Never use spaces or hyphens in folder names; it's easier to use all lower-case letters, too, because your URL must match the folder/file names EXACTLY.
  4. Drag your .html files from the desktop into your story folder. If that doesn't work, choose "Put" and select your .html documents; hit "choose" and you should see the documents in your story folder.
  5. The URL for the page you've just created will be: http://userwww.sfsu.edu/~yourSFSUusername/
    storyfolder/page.html (remember to put any subfolders in the filepath as well). For example, the URL for the template above is http://userwww.sfsu.edu/~mdrennan/interactivefiction /index.html ("interactivefiction" is the name of the folder; "index" is the name of the page).
  1. Create a 7-page hyperfiction piece: a start page with two choices for the reader (lit up as links); those 2 result pages, each with two more choices lit up as links; and those 4 result pages as endings (no more choices to follow). Total of 7 separate .html documents. Each page should have at least 50 words of text. The reader choices can be embedded in the text of the story or they can be listed separately on the page — just make sure the links work! Remember the difference between internal links (pages that live in the same folder on your server) and external links (full URLs). Post a link to your start page in a comment to today's Class Blog. Due 9 a.m. next Thursday.
  2. Explore the Electronic Literature Directory and choose 3 projects (any category or genre) to review in a comment on the Class Blog. Discuss the following questions: What makes these projects interesting (or not interesting)? Do you find the interactive format empowering (being able to choose how to navigate through a story) or confusing (not being able to see the big picture, getting lost in all the clicking around)? Are there ways that the interactive form can enhance a reader's experience, compared to reading a linear narrative? What writing techniques need to be developed in order to facilitate that enhanced reading experience? Include a link to the fiction project itself (not to the ELD).
  3. Sharon, Tauri, Josh and Claudia will present interactive fiction projects and talk about the forms of interactivity going on. (For IF, there isn't always a record of community/users, so for this round of presentations it isn't necessary — though if you can find examples where there is a community using other forms of online communication/organizing, great!)