So here it is: a final draft of the web version of my thesis, as submitted for my defense on Friday.
There are glitches, yes. And 1/3 of the text is either not online, or not yet written. And the hover-over on the citations are not entered. Nor are the translations. And I haven't debugged it for IE so please, please use FireFox or Safari if you take a peek. But damnit, I'm close.
As I mentioned previously, my research explores the art of combination as a media topos across different periods, focusing in particular on actual mechanisms or machines for generating text. Really, it argues for an understanding of reading and writing as two sides of the same coin -- interlocked, material practices interfacing with a particular platform. Rather than squeezing and pinching and prodding a rather untraditional media archaeology into a rather traditional 70-page thesis, I've created a website that enacts the very mechanisms I investigate, involving the reader in cutting up and recombining the text to produce meaning. Here's what it looks like:
The four square design is, first and foremost, a product of screen realty -- my original design added a new block with each click, creating this sprawling, unmanagable grid of flippable, changeable texts -- but second, an echo of the cut-up methods of Brion Gysin and William Burroughs, who would slice a page into four equal parts and remix them to create a new text. Although I've designed the outcome of each link, there's no set order in which to explore; you can go clockwise, counterclockwise, or just jump back and forth between two blocks.
The grid on the left side of the screen is a visual map to help orient you in the text. (Because this is a draft, not all of the texts have been assigned a block on the grid.) Hovering over different sections will tell you which topics are being explored, so you can see what you've covered and where you still have to travel. Clicking on any block in the grid removes all four blocks on your screen and starts you over in the top left corner. And, finally, the color coding of the blocks links to the shadow behind each square to indicate when you've jumped to a new topic.
Every block that slides onto your screen is added to "Your Text" at the bottom of the screen, generating a linear version the thesis. The colored blocks link back to the themes above to create a layering effect -- as if the linear text itself is an archaeological site, depositing meaning.
I hesitate to share this publicly, because the writing is still very much in progress. For instance, although the section on digital poetry looks small, it isn't -- I just haven't added those texts to the visual map yet. So while I welcome and want feedback on the website design and functionality, please know that what you're reading is a draft.
That being said, what do you think? Am I insane? Or is this actually read-able?