Archive for the ‘STORYSPACE’ Category

HYPERTEXT PROJECT 2: Learning to Love It

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

I’ve been working in Tinderbox and Storyspace for literary purposes for a few years now. I’ve had a hypertext story published in The New River Review and my 100 Days Project of 100 Hypertext stories has been listed in the Electronic Literature Organization Directory. It’s not much, but it’s a start. Towards what goal? Well, to spread the word, to gain audience, to prove that hypertext is coming of age in a world where reading is done to a great degree online, and where hypertext literature is not only perfect for the times, it is ahead of them yet oddly it remains largely unacknowledged by both academia and the general reading population.

What then, to do? Make it lovable. So that’s the project. Here’s the start:

From personal experience, including my own baptism into hypertext waters, and here, years later, reading the reaction of students being exposed to the medium, I’ve got to admit that the initial reaction is generally either “Yuck, I don’t see its purpose, it’s confusing” or “Wow, that’s great (but I’ll never read another one after this course is over).” So then the problem appears to be primarily in its introductory phase.

There are two problems here that I see. First, not all university courses include a new media course or even much of an inclusion in their literary courses. Secondly, since hypertext is supposedly a break from traditional reading (how is that, when links are clicked to read online so often that there’s a perceptible new “white noise” hum in the atmosphere?) it’s bound to hit resistance. Folks like ease and speed these days. Hypertext is not necessarily meant to be read fast and easy. Reading literature itself should be tough, unless we’re seeking mindless, non-demanding entertainment. And escapism for its own sake is fine; I do it all the time, only not in hypertext literature.

This is an undertaking that I’m hot on, have been for years, yet never had time to kick off. Now, I’m going to make it a part of my daily writing. It will of necessity include some team effort, people who are more skilled with the medium and have the technological know-how to produce what I clearly cannot. That’s all a part of the plan.

Then again, am I being too pushy in my attempts to be helpful? Maybe. So what?

WRITING: Planning with Tinderbox

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Learning for me has always been easiest in the doing. Instructions are held aside and come into play when a need arises that can’t be figured out by clicking buttons, turning screws, guessing, or the real motive of comprehension as to how something would logically work. But I’m also hampered by a stubborn resistance to change.

That said, when I fell in love with Storyspace as a means to write hypertext story, it was a pita to relearn and rewrite into Tinderbox even though the two are very similar in many ways in the processing and theory of linking. Tinderbox offers a world more of capabilities and the visuals of mapping and layout are more open and yet precise in the graphics. I’ve been fiddling around with several projects in Tinderbox, starting from placing a few short hypertext stories into a project space and from there transferring a much larger Storyspace piece into the medium, and progressing to a new project for a longer novel to make use of the research and note-making spaces that would act as an outline or rough plotting structure for the narrative. Even though I don’t know if this is going to in fact be a hypertext work, the concept of having it take shape in a more cohesive manner than pages of scribbled notes (I’ve never been an outline person, except to make the required one for teachers’ purposes after a story or essay was finished) is something that at this stage of my life offers invaluable assistance in saving time alone.

What’s nice about technology and the tools that software offers is that even with manuals and thick text of instructions, a user can always maneuver within the simplest form that suits his own needs, knowing that should more arenas of possibility open up, the field is there.

HYPERTEXT: Story and Software

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

While focusing what brain power I had available in the last two weeks on linear story in another attempt to meet deadlines of lit journals, I’ve done little in the hypertext department except to put a story or two into the Tinderbox environment to compare it to the way I’ve done the same with Storyspace. I have found a funner way to work in Tinderbox, by using the colored box changes as a visual allure. Something I’ve always liked about Storyspace–particularly the Mac version–is the crisp graphics of the screens that you write into. It inspires by enhancing the tone. Tinderbox can work similarly, though I’ve not yet found the connection between Notes besides as they might contain a single story within and those Notes connected as lexias in typical hypertext narrative form. The individual stories themselves right now do not seem to have a connection but I can easily see how Tinderbox would be the more useful program in which to both make the connections, and yet provide the containers to separate them into their individual selves.

Twiddling a little with it then, but won’t be able to put more time into it until the lit journals have closed for the summer and I’ve no rational excuse to put it off.

HYPERTEXT & STORYSPACE: Finding the Best Way

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

Once I was placed on the right trail by a friend, I’ve been able to work some of my wants and needs into the process of exporting a hypertext written in Storyspace into html with css that for the most part covers all bases–at least of the necessity element. Wouldn’t have thought that html could be entered right into the SSP writing spaces to cover attributes of those particular spaces, i.e., #left, #center, #right, etc. and while each has to be individually put in, it’s better to do it in SSP when the links and relationships are easy to see via the map view.

Couple of things that I haven’t done yet that I think would be interesting is to integrate stretchtext into Paths. Because of its nature of appearing dreamlike and fading, stretchtext mimics the nature of this particular narrative because it is basically reflections on ‘what if’s?’ by the characters, and the possibility of different futures based on the choices. I like the idea of the text appearing on a different portion of the same page, and that might be one way to go.

Another effect I need to work on is bringing in images and maybe film clips as well as audio. I’m guessing however that my skill and knowledge is still a long way off for this kind of stuff (since I still haven’t discovered the trick to the background image) and there is a need to accomplish something before moving on to the more elaborate manipulations.

So maybe Paths is on the front burner for this week, with a good look at improving link relationships, discovering what impact if any that the different positions will have on the work, and of course, editing the text itself since I just can’t help myself.

HYPERTEXT & CODE: Glaring Errors

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

One of the fun things about learning something new on a self-taught-but-an occasional-question-to-a-wiser-friend-basis is that you come up with some weird stuff:

What I’m trying to do is put some more information directly into the 032809hStoryspace template so that I needn’t go through all the files when the writing spaces have become .html files arranged in alphabetical order with no way (so far–I’m working on it) of knowing what links to what at a glance.

The image left has taught me that you shouldn’t use a 14 pt font unless you’ve already made arrangements in the css stylesheet for the headlines. For some reason, the export turned all the text into headline size. That’s okay, I’m working on a limited-lexia’ed piece as a test first.

This next little beauty is the result of trying to put the code into the writing space while in Storyspace to move a lexia’s eventual position on a web page. Evidently what I did didn’t work (okay, okay, so I’m working on this too) but it did make me laugh when thinking of the reason and possibility of hypertext and here I’ve got text escaping the boundaries of even that freeing element.


HYPERTEXT: Expanding the Consciousness

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

Just got the impetus to pick up and fly on short story hypertexts again. Armed with Storyspace and a story, I’ve spent most of the morning playing when I should have been framing…



Thursday, March 12th, 2009

I literally left a woman hanging to channel a renewed energy into this concept of a children’s website that exposes them to hypertext story.  Thinking of a name (Hypertales?) and content (a dozen or so short stories geared toward different age levels and interests) and the funnest part, design. But it all has to start somewhere so I revved up my Storyspace engine and starting writing about numbers and things and a little guy named Darren.


CODE, HYPERTEXT & STORYSPACE: Huzzah! I got borders!

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Just wrote up and initiated a border around the text–the complete block of text, not each paragraph–in a test stylesheet!

I’m so excited as the steps start coming together to create a dance. This is the code I stuck into the stylesheet, and all I have to do is get some padding or margins in there:

body {
border-style: solid;
border-color: #FFFFFF;
border-top-width: 2px;
border-right-width: 2px;
border-bottom-width: 2px;
border-left-width: 2px;

And, I think I have padding…


Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Seeking, trying, learning, doing; a long and tedious process for but the simplest thing; simple, that is, if you know what you’re doing.

Got it though; in changing the basic links to the arrow, it bothered me more and more to see those links all in red when this story–and likely this is one of few hypertexts that will be so utterly dependent on link-color to help tell a story–remained red.

So I explored a bit and found that a few simple tags could be entered within the html templates (individually for now) to change the text to what I wanted. For the links (from the main narrative line to the ‘asides’) I placed font code within the link code:

<p>She half-awoke angrily, as if someone had <a href=””><font color=”#00ff00″>shoved</font></a> her.</p>


Then, for the ‘aside’ lexia itself, which is coded green from the above link “shoved”, I placed the following code at the beginning of the BODY heading, closing the tag with the final </font></p> in the lexia:


<p><font color=”#0000ff”>
<p>Not a good night for hunting, the moon full tricky with shadows and the jackal appeared double his size. His yellow grey fur was matted with burrs and dried blood.  He stunk of three days of mating with females stringy and old.  But he also was long past his prime.  His tail hung in tatters, one rear leg was shriveled and slow, many of his teeth had rotted in pain and his right ear hung folded in half.</p>

<p>Out here, life was hard for the healthy.  For the old, it was keep moving or die.</font></p>

To come up with this:


And though these changes aren’t being made on-site, but rather on-desktop for now, they’ll be uploaded as soon as I figure out borders. Ain’t life grand?


Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

Since I was finally able to have a certain amount of success in making the internet play nice with Storyspace (it always did, it’s just that I stubbornly tried to make things work without coming right out and yelling for help, as is my way) and tweak things out a bit in simple things like color and font, I went ahead and modified A Bottle of Beer in the My Work Page. But there’s still much to do.

This piece is linear, with links to “asides” that come right back to the main path. This is because it was written in a particular form, that offered by the Hypertextopia online site. While the format appears simplistic, it does provide a certain service in that it fulfills a gap between the more complex structure of something like Storyspace or interactive Flash and the stricter confinements of straight text (though nothing’s stopping you for skipping around in the book). To be honest, the largest appeal of Hypertextopia to me was the flashy graphics.  So with my true whore’s heart of loyalty and love of dazzle, in transferring A Bottle of Beer into the Storyspace software and learning how to export it here at my website, the first thing I wanted to do was paint the hot colors of story against a black backdrop. This took me several days of creating new html templates and css sheets until I have it somewhat like what I want.

Next comes some fine tuning such as borders and frames and making each link take back on its original color that had formed a path of meaning of its own, and some fixing of glitches like the extra spaces between sentences that show up as E’s and the Spanish accented letters which html translated into some God-awful-scary voodo signs.