Tagged: Ellen Lupton

The Concept of Linearity

Well, this is my second time writing about this excerpt and I’m still a little confused about Ellen Lupton’s idea of “linearity”. Awesome. Anyway, here is my thinking: linearity literally means “line”, going from point A to point B. There needs to be some sort of organization, otherwise one might stray from the linear path, and the user should not be able to jump from one point to another when it comes to linearity; that is the polar opposite of what it means. In terms of writing, linearity is basically a single stream of consciousness. A novel, therefore, would be linear because the reader cannot jump from page 3 to, say, page 50. He or she has to read each word and page in sequence in order to understand it. Similarly with speaking, there is no real way to veer off path; words cannot be spoken out of order. A textbook or a blog on the other hand would not be linear because the reader can easily jump from one passage to another, but more so for a blog. At least for a textbook, each passage is related. For a blog, the only relationship between each post may only be the general topic covered. Combine this with the reader’s ability to jump between any two passages fairly easily (at least with most blogs) and you have a complete nonlinear form of writing.

When Lupton mentioned PowerPoint as an example of linearity, I was a little befuddled. I didn’t exactly know what linearity was, but I thought it would be nonlinear based on what I got out of her explanation. Now that I sort of understand the concept a little better, it makes more sense. It is tough for a reader to jump from one slide to another because the information is presented in an organized, logical way (at least to the presenter), much like the novel. Thus, PowerPoint would be considered “linear”.

Typography…It’s Important!

This piece was a little difficult to understand and so I am a little confused about what exactly the author is trying to get at in this piece. I could be interpreting this all wrong, so bear with me. From what I understand, typography and text, when written down (on a computer, for example) has dimension, occupying space and time, and a fixed location…or something. As such, this has a very different feel to it than a written (by hand) work. The evolution of typography over time has also changed the way we read and create texts. According to the author, the text on a computer is supreme to the written word in a book. Due to technology, text and typography has become much more fluent and liquid than ever before. There are four ways that this has changed our lives: errors, spacing, “linearity”, and the user.

It is so much easier to detect errors today than it was, say 150 years ago, when everything had to be written down (and even with the typewriter); errors were so common and not so easy to detect and fix. This is obvious. Of course technology has made our lives easier to proofread our work. The problems are right there in front of us, and fixing the problem takes all but a few seconds to do.

A written piece, like an article, is like a type of art. ¬†Spacing is important and integral to a written work(noonewantstoreadorwritelikethis), but it shouldn’t dominate it. Again, pretty self explanatory. No one wants to read a piece that has as much white space as actual text; despite how lazy we have become with reading, we still want to read¬†something.

The next part, linearity, is a little confusing. Here, the author claims that since writing occupies space and time, the reader is, or has the potential to be, “liberated” from the linearity that we are so used to. Although technology can be so nonlinear, we so often see this linearity, such as the ticker on the bottom of the TV screen was one watches CNN. Word and PowerPoint are also linear by using a “one-way flow of speech”. One of the premier examples of a nonlinear form is a database, which is a structure behind electronic games, magazines, and catalogues. I’m not exactly sure what the difference between a “linear” work and a “nonlinear” work is, though. Nonetheless, the author thinks that we should stray away from linear media and turn to nonlinear one’s more.

Finally, the birth of technology and the Web as brought about “the user”. The user controls pretty much everything, including the significance of a given text. The use has also become significantly more impatient as the years and decades have gone by; this is due to the fact that the use of technology gives the user a different expectation of what to expect over a written work (productive vs. contemplative). Without the user, the Web is basically useless.