: design2

In its first phase (from the spring of 97 through the winter of 98/99), the design has been largely structural, placing the individual issues on a single interface and arranging the various journal sections in relation to one another. As the site evolves, each author's work, and the work of others, will begin building into an architecture, a self-aware, self-organizing structure that will let readers visualize developing logics and recurring subjects over the life of the journal.

An example of the self-organizing quality of the design, as it emerged in collaborations between editor and graphic artist, can be seen in the typographical arrangement of the section headings. Readers may note that, within the capitalized portion of the titles, it is possible to extract four coordinates of hypertext reading: thREADs, reVIEWs, riPOSTe, ebrINFO: using a combination of visual and verbal attention, one reads and views simultaneously as an active participant; moreover, one is invited to post information in response to the material. (Eventually this invitation will be offered explicitly in texts that pop up, and occasional soundtracks that run, during selected transitions from essay to essay, and from section to section.)

The editors admit that this almost subliminal visual advertisement for a hypertext aesthetic was not planned when we initially came up with names for the sections. The use of reVIEWs is not original with ebr we'd seen it written this way in other journals. Although we did pun from the start on the 'post' in 'riposte,' our first consideration in choosing the word was to signal to contributors that a certain lightness was expected in the scholarly debates hosted by ebr. Similarly, at first we tended to throw out the word 'thread' unthinkingly, as a common term in electronic parlance. Once our visual editor began working with the words as design elements, however, and once we settled on a textile metaphor for the entire site, we noticed the emergent pattern and decided to go with it. This is one reason why the initial interface is called thREADs rather than CONTENTS or ebrHOME which we initially considered.

We offer this as one instance of how the combination of two frameworks, one editorial and verbal, the other design-oriented and visual, can generate unforeseen patterns and different kinds of meanings, just as the textile metaphor defamiliarizes and resituates an established hypertext discourse of threads, connections, webs, and links. Within any configuration of characters on a screen or page, there is an inevitable contradiction between the material means of making meaning and the referential meaning. The point of sharing editorial responsibilities with designers is to make of that contradiction a source of collaboration and creative tension.

| evolution | the metaphor |

templates: | reVIEWs | riPOSTes | essays |