Thursday, August 30, 2007

224 Text is an environment!

Message no. 224[Branch from no. 218] Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Sunday, February 4, 2007 5:49pm Subject: Text is an environment

Hi Michelle and all,

Michelle, like Daniela's summary, yours is great and 90% there. It also merely lacks the linkages to outside readings. I would also try to give page numbers when you quote or relate an idea so that we can all find the source material if we need or want to. That is what academic writing is all about.

You may have wondered why academics, like the author of your book, always write the names of the authors and the years they wrote or came up with ideas in quotes right after they say something. For example, on page 43 the authors say "... the Kaplans conclude that humans have a fondness for environments that provide rapid, comprehensible information". Scenes that exhibit both may offer prospect and refuge (Appleton 1975, Greenbie 1982). "

What the authors have done is to provide US with a mental map of the subject that "provides rapid, comprehensible information". Now, if I want to know more about the ideas of prospect and refuge I can immediately go to the back of the book , to page 518, and see that Appleton wrote a book called “The Experience of Landscape” in 1975, and, on page 544, I learn that Greenbie wrote an article called “The Landscape of Social Sybols” in a magazine (a journal) called “Landscape Research”, Volume 7, pages 2 through 6. Now, armed with that information, I can go to the library, or to or to an online academic book and article provider, like JSTOR, and get my hands on the original articles.

Those articles, in turn, will contain their own roadmap, telling me where those authors got THEIR ideas and so on and so on. Eventually we can trace our way back to the very first article or book or author who mentioned the idea we are studying. Sometimes it goes all the way back to Aristotle!!!

So referenceing is very important!!! It makes what we learn legible, and makes information rapid and comprehensible.

Do you see how providing references is like a MAP? It isn’t graphic, but it provides directions. In that way it keeps us from getting lost.

TEXT IS A TWO DIMENSIONAL LANDSCAPE. Like any landscape, it can be intimidating. So giving us links, and giving us page numbers and references to authors, you give us PROSPECT and REFUGE. PROSPECT because we get “an open, unobstructed view of the environment (p.43)” (in this case we get a chance to see where the information came from and who is out there studying it). REFUGE because our ideas are SAFE! We can HIDE behind the authorities and take shelter in their expertise. By quoting our sources and referring to them, we are backed up and don’t stand alone. We can claim things like “Disneyland has better parking lots than the shopping mall because it reminds you where you are parked among all the thousands of cars by knowing you were parked near Bambi or Mickey Mouse, and each area looks unique” and then say “this is supported by what the Kaplans say: “People are attracted to scenes in which human abilities to process information are stimulated and in which this processing will be succesful” (Bell, 2005, p. 43)

Now people may disagree with you, but you can take refuge in the fact that the Kaplans would probably be on your side!

I would like everyone in the class to learn to see how text is a landscape, how it is an environment, and, since we are using text to communicate with each other, try to create a text environment that provides refuge, prospect, coherence, legibility, complexity and yes, even mystery! (see table 2-1!)

Capice? Cool! Keep writing!

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