Of Two Minds Review -- What the Fish Lady Saw: Patterns Out of Disjointedness in Two Hypertext Writing Communities

Patterns Out of Disjointedness in Two Hypertext Writing Communities

In this essay Joyce describes his effort to map out the threads of two synchronous discussions by using Storyspace as a study tool. After placing these transcripts into Storyspace he linked all of the InterChanges together in linear order, identified and gathered emerging themes together, assigned key words for each utterance, and wrote summaries of each InterChange and took notes on his protocols and discernment processes. He then takes his findings and uses scientific plotting techniques to visually represent what is going on in the discussions.

This essay is one of the most fascinating to me for many reasons. I have pursued ways to analyze and represent what happens in synchronous discussions before and used many of the same tactics that Joyce tried, except using Storyspace as a study tool. I have plotted each utterance out on paper and used colored lines to connect by key word which utterance flows to others after it. I have tried to represent topic changes, as well as power enhancing and silencing techniques used by speech participants, and have learned much from the attempts. But there is always a limit to what can be presented and understood graphically. My charts and graphs don't tell the whole story, the way I understand it. Likewise, Joyce's graphical representations of what happens in these instances is hard for the reader to follow. I think that is part of his point from the preceding essay. Through using Storyspace in this way he has changed what he understands about the two interchange sessions in ways that we as readers of this essay cannot understand, unless we too participate in putting the utterance into Storyspace to map out for ouselves what is going on. Perhaps an exploratory hypertext about this study would bring us closer than the flat page of this book.

At any rate, what Joyce is attempting with this study and this essay is truly different. It steps to the between ground where disciplines overlap. I think there is much to be learned through attempts of this sort. As one of Joyce's InterChange participants, fish lady, put it:

"the stuff about hypertexts and moons and computers is that sometimes they have their own way of leading us where we are not sure where we're going... surprises, pits, interesting conversations and images-hypertexts... that sometimes make us listen to what we least know" (67).