December 2005 Archives

Changes on the horizon

| No Comments | No TrackBacks is over a year old and it has been the better part of that year since I made any architectural changes to the site. With Tinderbox's inclination toward exposing emergent structure, the site has been feeling a bit long in the tooth of late. Debugging The Elephant on Main Street has also given me a few tricks and techniques for working in and exporting from Tinderbox, too. Tricks like making sections of the templates depend on if/then statements, and how to get agents to export intelligent indices of your site.

Which is a long-winded way of saying: This site is under construction. Pardon our mess. We apoligize for any inconvenience while we work to serve you better. I'll spare you the construction-sign animated gif, at least.

Tiered Engagement

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Tiered Engagement means that the reader receives different material based on both their own experience of the text and on their interest. Tiered engagment is one model for tailoring a text to the reader while maintaining focus and progress around a central narrative.

Beyond the Cut: A full definition and discussion

In the 25th Anniversary issue of Discover (Oct. 2005) there's a neat article in the reviews section asking scientists whether there are any science books that remain to be written, and what uncharted territory they (the scientists) would cover in the book.

Vera Rubin, astronomer and Senior Fellow in the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie institution of Washington had this to say, and I love it:

I would like to see a multilevel book, written for toddlers, schoolchildren, college students, and adults, that would look at the world around us and answer questions that youngsters may or may not ask as a day progresses. ... Each page off a tall book might have four sections, top to bottom, with the first answer being for the child, the second answer for those a little older, the third a "scientific explanation," and the final one a philosophical discussion of pertinent concepts like forces or brains or animals. Alternatively, there could be four pages per question, each page hidden behind the first...."

I read this just as I was hitting the midpoint of Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age (more on that soon), and the convergence was frustrating. Exhilirating, too, but 'frustrating' because this multilinearity would be so easy to do, so valuable, and yet it really isn't done. For lack of a better term, I'm going to call it 'tiered engagement' and attempt a definition.

Beyond the cut: Definition and discussion

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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