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RE: Importance of Narrative (Was article: The beauty of single columned sequential text")

From: Danny Ayers <danny@isacat.net>
Date: Fri, 5 Oct 2001 20:38:07 +0200
To: "wai-ig list" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <EBEPLGMHCDOJJJPCFHEFKEFJEBAA.danny@isacat.net>
I unintentionally posted my response to David's note to him alone, and since
Karl's points have a lot in common, I'll take the opportunity to do a bit of
rephrasing to cover both...

Ok, forget hypertext for now.

I agree that in many cases the single column approach will lead to
considerably more accessible material - but that doesn't seem to be the
motivation in the article. The argument is clearly given : "The trouble is
when you do that [example using 3 columns], you lose control over the
sequence in which visitors gather and absorb the information.". This is
about controlling the order in which the material is accessed, not its
accessibility. The final statement reiterates : "If you want your visitors
to take a particular course of action, use a single, central column of text
to drive that action."

I cannot disagree that narrative, (textual and spoken) can be very
powerful, - but I'm sure I'd get a few objections if I said "If you want
your visitors to take a particular course of action, use a single *audio
file* to drive that action."

I simply don't think that (generally speaking) one should approach the
delivery of information, particularly on the web, with a view to imposing a
structure (such as the sequence) on the data to get the visitor to take a
particular course of action. I've nothing at all against single-column
material (I certainly prefer it in novels), but the online media support a
vast multitude of different approaches - ideally one would always encounter
the most appropriate for the particular information and target audiences
(which would of course mean a vast improvement in accessibility). Ok, this
isn't likely in the real world, but I hope there's a little more imagination
around than merely falling back on single column text.

Cheers,
Danny.

---
Danny Ayers
http://www.isacat.net

>-----Original Message-----
>From: karl.hebenstreit@gsa.gov [mailto:karl.hebenstreit@gsa.gov]
>Sent: 05 October 2001 18:19
>To: danny@isacat.net
>Cc: wai-ig list; w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org
>Subject: Importance of Narrative (Was article: The beauty of single
>columned sequential text")
>
>
>
 Another aspect of the point that the
>author is making is the power of narrative, which may be even more critical
>with the ever-growing number of information sources found on the Internet.
>These concepts tie in quite well with the book I'm currently reading:
>Design Wise, by Alison J. Head.    http://www.ajhead.com/designwise.html
>
>These are also underlying concepts that have been influencing my own book
>project, which will be a collection of narrative essays.   I'll post more
>information on this project shortly.
>
>Karl
>
>Other related links:
>
>Narrative Storytelling in a Drive-By Medium
>http://www.nieman.harvard.edu/reports/00-3NRfall/Drive-By-Medium.html
>
> Storytelling: Organizational Perspective: Larry Prusak
>
>
>
>http://www.creatingthe21stcentury.org/Larry1-enemies&enablers.html
>
>The Triumph of Narrative: Storytelling in the Age of Mass Culture
>http://www.robertfulford.com/Narrative.html
>
>
>
>
>
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>
>
>
>                    "Danny Ayers"          To:     "wai-ig list"
><w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
>                    <danny@isacat.n        cc:     (bcc: Karl F.
>Hebenstreit Jr./MJ/CO/GSA/GOV)
>                    et>                    Subject:     RE:
>article: The beauty of single columned sequential text"
>                    Sent by:
>
>                    w3c-wai-ig-requ
>
>                    est@w3.org
>
>
>
>
>
>                    10/05/2001
>
>                    11:43 AM
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>Now at : http://www.clickz.com/design/write_onl/article.php/896561
>
>A quick comment, the author's key point is :
>
>"The delivery of your key messages, in the right sequence, within a single,
>central column of text can work wonders."
>
>In many cases, this probably holds true. But I think it should be rejected
>as a general rule, among other reasons, for one pointed to by the author of
>the piece : "A single principal column of text makes life easy for the
>reader and gives you a great deal more control over the sequence in which
>information is delivered to the reader."
>
>Controlling the sequence? Doesn't this rather undermine the benefits
>offered
>by hypertext in the first place? If we wish to deliver propaganda, all well
>and good, if we wish to deliver information for the benefit of the reader,
>then surely allowing them to control the flow will be the aim.
>
>Cheers,
>Danny.
>
>---
>Danny Ayers
>http://www.isacat.net
>
>>Subject: article: The beauty of single columned sequential text"
>>
>>
>>can be found at:
>>http://clickz.com/design/write_onl/article.php/8965611
>>
>>Hands-on Technolog(eye)s
>>Touching The Internet
>>http://members.home.com/poehlman1/
>>mailto:poehlman1@home.com
>>voice: 301.949.7599
>>
>>
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Received on Friday, 5 October 2001 14:40:45 GMT

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