*Monitoring Order: Visual Desire, the Organization of Web Pages, and Teaching the Rules of Design*

Few would deny, I think, that our senses of who-we-are have been shaped by the numberless images of (for example) thin, light-skinned, lightly-dressed women and men we consume daily in magazines and television. This paper argues, however, that we learn to desire more than thinness from such looking: repeated arrangements of images on page or screen teach us also to desire certain kinds of visual and abstract order (Bang, Kress and van Leeuwen, and Stafford). When words are part of the arrangements -- as they are on the Web pages now part of many of our classes -- they too function as sensual representations of ideal structures (Smith; Ong).

But, just as we have learned that the Truth and Beauty in the paintings of the "Masters" are the truth and beauty of particular times and places (Leppert; Bryson; Berger), so too do we learn that the desire learned and expressed through our web arrangements is also not context-free -- although many texts encourage students to think of design in this way.

This presentation also argues, then, that when we address issues of Web design, we need to address how we have come to have the desires for visual order that we do, and what social structures are supported by such orderings. It is not a matter of teaching "rules" if we are to build effective pages, but of developing context-alert strategies for both the creators *and* the scrutinizers of Web pages.

Presenter: Anne Frances Wysocki


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