JJTM: The James Joyce Text Machine

ABOUT THIS PROJECT:
This is a low bandwidth exploration of the computer representation and hypertext architecture of textual annotation and commentary for an imaginary electronic edition of Ulysses.

CONFIGURATION:
Use a W3C or "web standard" approved browser such as Internet Explorer 6 or Netscape Navigator 6.2 or higher. Since several of the displays contain a good deal of detail in parallel text pages, be sure put to exploit all the available canvas space by maximizing the browser window and removing extraneous menu items. Reduce the screen font size if the text seems to overflow the space provided. Needless to say, the larger monitor, the better, preferably with a 1024 x 768 display.

STARTUP:
The normal entry to the program will "sniff" the user's computer and will redirect the reader to the appropriate menu, depending on the browser in use. A limited menu is provided for those using obsolete browsers such as Netscape 4.7.

CLEANUP:
Close unwanted popup windows as soon as possible. They may persist annoyingly even after you believe you have exited the browser.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

  1. Status line messages on mouseover: short help on what to do next
  2. Tooltip or balloon messages on mouseover: for about 5 seconds a summary appears of the information available if the reader decides to click
  3. Hypertext links on clicking: conventional way of selecting the display of the annotation in another frame. A JavaScript function permits several annotation sub-windows to be refreshed at the same time
  4. Show/hide text block on mouseover: Large multi-paragraph text block which appears at cursor location
  5. Popup window on mouseover: a small window with annotation or navigation which can be relocated, resized, scrolled, and closed -- but which will take some knowledge to control should several instances appear inadvertently, On ekind will vanish when the mouse is moved. but another kind will persist.

A POPUP REMOTE CONTROL MENU:
A popup remote control menu will appear, suitable for perusing the several menu choices. Its window may be moved, resized, or closed to your liking. If you close the remote control window, refreshing (or returning to) the main menu will launch it again. If the remote control window loses focus in Windows, you may bring it to the top again by clicking on its tab in the bottom tray or by pressing ALT-Tab. If it exists somewhere, you will not be able to launch a second iteration.

TEXT FORMATTING:
To maintain line breaks in the text, HTML break <BR> tags are required after each line. The lines of text lines and the line numbers are synchronized by being placed in adjacent cells in the same table row. Incidentally, superscripts and subscripts cannot be used here as clickable links because they add unwanted vertical spacing.

HYPERTEXT ANNOTATIONS:
Click on the footnote cue marks to see annotations from (G)Gifford (top left), (S)Schutte, (top center), (#)footnotes (top right), and a (C)concordance generated in WordCruncher (bottom). In the synchronized version, click on the link in the line numbers to see annotations in up to four windows at once.

CONTEXTUAL DROP-DOWN DATA:
As an alternative to generalized hypertext links, commentary on recurring motifs, local motifs, correspondences, literary echoes, topics, rhetoric, schema, foreshadowing, variants, critics (or other themes) in specific passages can be loaded into an local database for topical access via drop-down labelled menus. This mockup does not contain actual data.

MOUSEOVERS: simple help.
Many different kinds of mouseovers are possible. The most familiar mouseover (or rollover) changes the graphical display where the mouse appears. Here are some capabilities of mouseovers for textual purposes:

  • To write messages in the Status Line at the bottom of the screen.
  • To launch a small, temporary popup window called a "tooltip." (Internet Explorer)
  • To launch a temporary popup window which will remain visible until the mouse moves
  • To launch a persistent popup window which will remain visible until that window is closed.

HELP:
The two Windows Help systems (F1, right click) can be used to provide procedural information on the structure and operations of the James Joyce Text Machine.

KEYSTROKES:
Since mouseclick activities are essentially disruptive to reading, commonly used annotation procedures can be assigned to keystrokes or even tab strokes.

ISSUES RAISED BY THIS DEMO:
Richard Lanham speaks of hypertext as an exploration of "the economics of attention." Indeed, hypertext offers radical possibilities for "reader-response," but there is not yet much agreeent on what is useful and thoughtful and what is amusing and distracting in the use of hypertext for literary study.

OF INTEREST

  • How should the encoding of the text indicate to the curious reader that something more is available without being obtrusive to other readers who prefer to press ahead?

  • How should the presence of annotation be signalled? By familiar underlined blue text? By a different text color or font? By an added footnote flag or icon? By something which appears not in the text but in the line numbering? Or by nothing until the interested reader discovers the hidden spot with a mouseover?

  • Searching and concordances: Many comments in the text pertain to multiple locations. It would be useful to display the surround of interesting words in a concordance (KWIC) or even jump to other instances. Recurring annotation should be kept in a single lookup database instead of being embedded in each location.

    HINTING

  • Can a preview of the effects of clicking on a given link prevent it from becoming a wild goose chase? Can preliminary information be used to suggest how to proceed as well as what might be available? Can the interests of different readers (new, casual, veteran, scholarly, etc.) be served in the same encoding -- or must alternate configurations be provided?

  • When should annotation refer to recurring strings in the text rather than specific locations -- a lookup strategy which would speed up large scale coding? How much redundancy, or getting to the same information in different ways, is appropriate?

  • How can the needs of readers be served to write and save independent notes, to create bookmarks, enter into online discussions, and to print and save?

  • How can XML metadata and searchable databases be used handle to handle the super-human problem of marking, coding, and linking the encyclopedic quantities of information which lie ahead?
  • June 16, 2002