Mick's Reply to Lee

Mick to Lee


I have spent some time with your site at


Though I have not looked at the mirror site, I presume they are identical. Given that we would be moving your site into Kairos space for archiving purposes (yet linking to the active version at the above URL to provide you with further opportunity to work with the site); though I see from your source code that you're using all relative links, so that shouldn't even be an issue.

I am cc'ing this to our staff list so they can follow up with their comments; I understand you've already received comments from Doug Eyman.

I will include here as well one post from of our staff discussion about whether or not we would included your text in the review process for this issue -- it is a fair representation of our consensus:

Well Mick, I'm gonna be completely honest and admit that I didn't know the first thing about "paralogic hermeneutics"


I read this piece. Lee is clear, concise, and creative in her approach to the entire web. Not only did I quickly come to understand her premise, but the manner in which she used htext to advance her argument is perfectly in line with our journal. Although some of her points seemed fairly basic been there, done that for most K readers) she never lapsed into the generalities that seemed to plague other feature submissions that we've kindly redirected or that we've recommended for extensive revision.


Now, back to my own comments!

I'm working from a T1 connection at work right now, on MSIE loaded onto a top-level piece of hardware, and this is taking *forever* to load. I don't recall this being the case on my Mac at home; by any chance did you write this on a Mac, maybe doing something along the way that would slow down Windows? Of course, it's possible that Iowa State's server is just being slow today.

I've written the above paragraph, left to microwave lunch, and returned, and the site is still loading ... hmmm.

I'm trying to load it in Netscape Communicator -- it comes up MUCH quicker, and the images are even loading, though again quite slowly. Is this perhaps a Netscape/MSIE problem? Greg, any ideas?

OK... this has been loading for half an hour. I'm going to shut down my machine and see if it's something client-side ...

Well, duh. It finally occured to me to check the mirror site ...


... which loaded almost immediately. Sorry! (you'd think I'd delete all the above now; actually, I like authors to see my stream-of- consciousness reviewing since that is very cogent to web-reading as a whole).

I have to tell you immediately that you have a win-lose situation graphically on your front page. It looks really nice -- the lightning works (thank you for not making it an animated gif!) ... but the graphical navigation table at the bottom needs some re-thinking. Mixing text/button cues with graphic-only buttons (of which I don't particularly know why I'd associate those graphics with where they actually take me, at least up front and intuitively) is a bad idea; and the images themselves seem to stack in an unpleasant cacophany. Could you introduce a standard table here which would make the images align better, and possibly even give a brief 2-5 word description of where each button heads, at least for the intro page? You could accomplish this on your bridge page, too. But the look as it stands is very dissonant to me.

I think I link to Bush's "As We May ..." (which is upweb somewhere; I think in an Atlantic Monthly archive) might be appropriate where you quote him.

I started by clicking on the little lightning box since it might be the thema in moving around randomly, and discovered it took me back to where I already was. This is another argument for clear labels (though I know all the arguments for not clearly labeling too and will be happy to entertain those) -- however, self-links, pages which link to themselves, are the bane of navigation tables. You need to disable a link to the page the table is existing on; a little extra coding involved, but worthwhile to not tick off your readers, or worse yet, make them think *they* did something wrong!

The bibliography link is fine -- again, not sure you want to make it so forefronted, given that there's not much there to "see," if you know what I mean -- but I'm not entirely sure what we've settled on style-wise. Kelli Cook is building a Kairos styleguide -- perhaps Sandye or Amelia can direct you to how that page might be reformatted; it may not even need to be. There are some places on the page -- Cyberreader comes to mind -- where a link would be useful. And you spelled Bolter's name wrong. Jay reads Kairos (and most Kairos readers read Jay!) -- so that's one we want to fix.

I like your navigation.html page -- I applaud your discussion of the issues and agree with most of your conclusions. I don't think my comments above about design of the table in any way conflict with your approach, nor would doing that simple re-design make the inclusion of this particular page any less valuable. I like it; it's valuable meta-commentary. The one problem with the table which describes the links (top left) is that in my browser, anyway, the "border color changes" icons appear absolutely identical.

The bibliographic link buttons in the text are a nice idea, but when I've seen that done elsewhere, there is usually a "back" link at the actual citation listing for people who don't know enough to use their Back buttons. I don't think this is an issue with the audience for our journal, and it becomes useless if a reference is used more than once in the webtext, but thought I would mention it in case you wanted to consider doing something like this. Not necessarily exactly this, but something like it. I'm sure there are better ways than what I've seen out there!

In your just.html node, you might want to add a sentence, a phrase, an occasional nuance, that you realize you are going over well-travelled ground for the audience you are working with, that you are doing so in the spirit of re-visiting common ground in order to break new ground, etc., etc.

Again, and I don't mention this on every page but *could* -- you should disable the "HTML" link at the bottom of the site which links the reader to the page she is already on.

Landow is "preeminent," huh? Yeah, I guess I can see that argument. I just so utterly abhor almost everything he's ever written ... but, I digress! Obviously, you need Landow here to make your point; I think Johndan Johnson-Eilola's book "Nostalgic Angels," just out this year, makes the point far better and you might look into it for future reference. It is being reviewed in the next issue of Kairos; we might even see if there is an obvious interlink to be made after everything is in place.

Just curious -- do you work with Kent at ISU? (He's there, isn't he?) He wrote me a while back about applying for the faculty position which is opening there this year, but I moved out of academia professionally. Seems like a genuinely good guy. Another prof at ISU profoundly influenced my own work in rhetoric, though I've never met him and don't know the first thing about him personally -- Scott Consigny. But again, I digress!

The fact that the table looks really different on each page -- centered sometimes, sometimes flush right, sometimes flush left, the icons placed at random it seems -- is quite disorienting to me. I know, I said I wouldn't bring it up again. Mea culpa.

You describe Kent's ideas really clearly in paralogic.html -- nicely done. It occurs to me, ironically enough, that this idea has room for Consigny's old ('74?) work on the rhetorical situation -- the idea of tool (I think he says "instrument") and realm co-existing as the same thing. I'm short-handing that, obviously, but I made the connection almost immediately.

Intertextuality -- have you read any of Jim Porter's work on that subject? Seems relevant. Not necessarily that you need to add it, but if you read it you might find places where you could do so. I fully understand, of course, the time crunch and am simply offering a suggestion!

I question your design choice on authority.html for two reasons surrounding the same issue -- the graphical representations of the quotes.

1., this strays from how you have constructed blockquotes in the rest of your website. Why here? Or, more to the point, why not elsewhere?

2., if we do accept the idea that these long quotes are okay as images, what are you providing for text-only browsers? You can use the ALT tag more effusively, or use D-links (which can be a pain, I know).

Your penultimate paragraph on this page cries out for an example -- and I bet you could come up with one and code it as a separate note/node, or at least link it off the bibliography, by running and saving a couple of search-engine searches.

I wouldn't be opposed to some personal commentary here, either; don't feel obligated, but given what you're writing, the rhetorical move you're making in submitting this webtext to peer review for an online journal -- coupled with our own K policy to archive the reviewed version and link to the author's active version -- seems to make a statement about paralogic hermeneutics in and of itself. Just a thought; maybe this, too, is something you could cover in the bridge page.

That's all I have for now. I invite the other editorial board members on the editorial staff mailing list to comment on the text, or even to comment on my commentary.

I look forward to including this in the next issue of Kairos, Lee. It's a fascinating piece of work and I think will bear much discussion, in the same way Doug Brent's "Rhetorics of the Web" piece did in our last issue.


Mick Doherty
Editor, Kairos