A few weeks ago, I posted an edited transcript of a conversation I had with University of Southampton researcher Clare Hooper. The following is the second half of our conversation.
To this, I added the following question, based on my previous conversation with Clare: How can/should tools effect how we write texts that are bigger than we can mentally hold in RAM at a single time?
This relates to issues of language and thought as well - how much does the language spoken influence the thoughts and approach of its speakers?
It's a long time since I've thought about that, but it's a fascinating area --which, sadly, has only bee touched on lightly in my studies
Btw, the story about eskimos having lots of names for 'white' is not true, but it illustrates the principle.
Yes, indeed. Languages and cultures and the links therein are fascinating... And the tools we use. Hmmmm. *ponder*
It depends how you mean 'tools', I suppose.
for example, it might have been more difficult to use dreamweaver to plan the sculpture -- this is a rather crude example.
I suspect we all go through a process of learning an overall approach - say, with programming, a liking for UML against some other visualisation method.
Tools certainly have different strengths and weaknesses - you only have to look at the heated debates about which OS is better, and how best to write web pages, and so on. That's evidence enough.
But how does one grant the flexibility and power that people might want? (Or more, not that an individual might want, but that the group of end users between them need!)
Remember how I was struck by how the card system could be used in multiple ways that diverge widely from how you have written your stories?
Mm, yes! How many tools end up being used in a different way to that first envisioned?
When I make the authoring system, I can describe the system in a larger sense of capability, or or I can just describe it in ways that you originally planned. Ultimately, my understanding of your system will influence future authors.
Of course, this whole area is so deeply subjective that getting an overall view is near to impossible...
but constraints can be good too. During eNarrative, either David Kolb or George Landow compared my sculpture to the sonnet and noted how formal constraits seem to limit creativity, but they often encourage us to work harder and be more creative because they free us from wasting too much time on form.
Yes, that's true.
I imagine that a StorySpinner story would be easier for people to write in Tinderbox than just handing someone an empty tinderbox file and saying, 'Write something.'
Yes! The power of the blank page --or empty screen-- to terrify.
I think everyone knows that.
So maybe we need to make tools which are open-ended but which let us make constrained forms in which people may write.
Yes, perhaps so.
which provides the comfort of boundaries which are farther out than previously in life room to roam, but safety in some constraints
Ahh, yes. I see what you mean! It's to do with balancing power and safety, isn't it?
That's one way to look at it, Yes.
Hmmm. But how to effectively do so, that's the biggie. :-)
I think that some loose forms could help. Give people a powerful tool, and then show them some stock ways that it can be used. That's why Mark started the Tinderbox File Exchange.
Yeah, that looks like a really useful place! Is it well used?
I know people who use it . Sometimes, people email me and ask for my Tinderbox file that I use on my blog
This sort of thing has been a large part of how I learned Tinderbox, to be honest. I started via the Grey Flannel Weblog template
Once you know the area inside the fence well, then you feel comfortable stepping around the fence
Yes, that makes perfect sense!
which is why you want a very open-ended tool, so it's not a prison.
That makes sense too! ... Eh, I hate to break this off, but I fear I have a lot of things to get done in the next day-and-a-half I probably ought to make a move...
Thanks for talking. This has been *good*
and there's one further related question to take with you as you leave...
Should the authoring tool be the same as the reading tool?
How d'ya mean?
With the medium of print, writers use pens and typewriters. With technology, I could write something in Tinderbox and send it to you to read in StorySpinner. With StorySpinner, even if you write the story in SQL, the authoring tool and the reading tool are different.
Should this be? When should this be? How should this be? What flavour of chocolate ice cream should I eat?
Hee! All very important questions :-)
these are the tough questions of the universe :-)
I wonder what method was used with the other card-like tools. I may look into that .
And meanwhile, had better dash!
Take care; do chat another time.