Reading “Who is Flora”- Rules & Tools
I'm going to describe the tools used by the author and the rules we follow to read the hypertext. As it has been done with flash, I'm going to divide it in “screens”, and in each screen I'll talk about all of the elements such as animations, music, text, clickable images, screens inside of screens,… And also i'll talk about the rules the author has given us to read this hypertext, or at least my hypothesis of how she wants us to read it, from my interpretation of it all.Let's start!
The path the author wants us to follow is quite easy to see. In the first clickable screen we find an introduction of the hypertext - it tells us what is it about, but mainly what it tell us is the story of where does the story comes from, who is that Flora- and there at the end of that introduction there's a link which says clearly “ENTER”, and that is the link that'll take us to the hypertext. That's the only path we can follow right now.
2nd screen (opened in a new window):
Then, a new window appears, and before starting the hypertext the author shows you how it all works. It is telling you more or less the path you're going to follow to get the story, the understand it. So, that's why I was saying in this hypertext is quite easy to see the rules the author wants you to follow. From the beginning she's telling us How it works. Maybe is not exactly a path, because she's not telling us to follow rules to read it, but she's do telling us to follow rules to understand how it works.
In this screen she give us the option of “skip” it, if you already have seen it and you don't need to see it again. And this is not just an image, is an animation, made by flash; a kind of tutorial.
If you don't click to “skip” and wait until the “ tutorial ” has ended up, the hypertext will start automatically.
3rd screen - SUMMER:
I'm going to describe all the interactive elements we can find in this screen:
This banner appears all the time, in every screen. In you click in “About this project” it takes you to this new screen under the other one (this is an example of what I said in the introduction´: “screens inside screens”; I'm going to call them Subscreens ):
This subscreen has information about Flora's project, and tells us who she was, adding more info to the introduction. In the “Camera Obscura” section the author explains the process of creation of this hypertext: I have taken the postcards, read what they said (they were often addressed to different members of her family, which she must have retreived as they grew oold and died), and created my own impression of why she traveled. The cards are arranged chronologically, so I have reason to believe they follow her different paths across the country.
The most important part of this section for me is when she says: To the right of some Flora's “screens” have added my own thoughts– my refections on travel and time, in response to Flora.
So here the author is telling a very important clue to understand the hypertext: first, we have the “ Main-screens “, which are arranged chronologically, and inside these main screens, we can find some “ Right-screens ” where the author has added her own thoughts and her reflections about travel and time.
At the end of this “informative-screen” theres a section called “Get the whole story!” with a link to a pdf's file, which provides you with more info about this hypertext. Yummy!
And then there's the link: back to Flora which will take us back to the Main-screen.
The little map in the upper-left corner of the main-screen will be our route guide, and we'll use it when we've finished reading all the main and right screens, because it'll take us to another place and time of Flora's trip(to another main-screen).
The green bird is a clickable picture (I'll call these elements clickable-pics ) and if you click on it is days: “Life” “Beauty”. I'm not quite suro of what is it for; maybe it's just a decorative element, or maybe it's describing that moment, that summer in Copper Harbor. I'm not sure yet.
This is a clickable-animated-pic , which becomes an animation when you put the mouse on it; it is a kind of flap; if you click on it, it will open a subscreen with text. This subscreen is formed of 5 more (this is number 1), and the way to get to the other is by clicking in the numbers under the text. To follow the author rules (or at least, the rules I think the author wants us to follow) we'll read the text in order, as if it was a lineal text, from the first one to the 6th. Of course you could read the text with no order, but that's not what we're going to follow right now.
And then we find these birds, which are clickable-animated-pics , and each of them has a message of Flora when you click, where she's telling her mother she has to leave, in what it seems to be a postcard. In the last bird, you can read: “I suposse I need to choose a path and follow it”. And that's what I'm doing with this hypertext.
And the last element of this page is another clickable-animated (it gets bigger when you click it) picture, which takes us to the authors thoughts, to what I've named a Right-screen, which is a main-screen inside the main-screen, but as that was way too complicated to name it, I decided to name it right-screen, because that second main-screen is at the right side of the main-screen. This element appears always when the author wants to take us to 1999, to the way she thinks about Flora's feelings, to what she thinks about her trip.
The car takes us to the Right-Screen. Here Travis is trying to express her feelings about what we just read from Flora's. And there are some new elements. As we read the text, we find she's talking about “the pictures”, and at the right we have some pictures. If you put the mouse over them there'll appear words.
And now, we'll use the little map in the upper left side of the screen to follow Flora's trip and to keep Reading the hypertext. With that map, we'll be able to move forward and backwards the hypertext whenever we want to. For example, if we want to go back to this page, we'll use the map. It's a kind of navigator through the hypertext.
And when we use the Navigator, or the Little map, a new screen appears. It is a Loading Screen, which has a train running.
Next Main Screen is another Postcard from Flora. It seems that she's arrived to Dayton. There's some oldie music, and a dog flicking which for me is like a signal that we have to click on it.
And when we click we find out more text, linear text, with some numbers under it, like in the first Main-screen. In that text we can travel with Flora by bus, listening to the conversations she listens to, living her experience from a very close point of view.
And also there's an interactive little bus at the bottom of the screen where you can read Flora's thoughts during her bus trip. Depending on where you put the mouse in that road-line the bus will move there, and a text will appear with Flora's thoughts.
Maybe the main relation with this Right-Screen with the Main one, is with the text of the Main-screen, because while we were traveling with Flora by bus, the night came, darkness came. The image of this screen is a night landscape, with stars and the moon. There's a linear text at the left side, and if you put the mouse under the moving stars there'll appear text. It all seems to have relation with the Flora's screen and with Flora's text.
And then , when we've finished reading this screen, we'll use again the map to go to the next place where Flora went, which will be marked with the number tree.
And then we go to the beach. A new music sounds. Flora has arrived to New Jersey.
This Main-screen doesn't have any right-screen, maybe just because Travis didn't have anything to add to this. The most important elements are, again, a linear text, that is already visible when we get to the screen; and there's a picture of a beach. If you put the mouse over it and move it across the picture, there'll appear the part of the picture you're under inside of the circle called “beach scene”, and there'll appear some text too. With all of these texts, Flora is showing us the loneliness she feels between that crowd, seeing all of those couples in the beach having fun.
And then, we'll use again the map to go on with our trip.
And we travel to Arkansas. We can hear the sounds of a restaurant in this screen, and, again there's no right-screen with the author thoughts.
In this main-screen there are less elements. Well find Flora's thoughts if we move our mouse across the picture of the restaurant
And then we'll use the map to travel to the last Flora's destination.
Destination number five, Texas. Some new music sounds, and here we come to the end of our trip.
We have a visible text in the left side of the Main-screen, but there's more text hidden. If we move our mouse across the cowboy picture in the center of the screen we'll find Flora's thoughts, and also if we put the mouse over the white cowboy there'll appear more text of Flora.
And then, we arrive to the last screen of this hypertext, because there's no more places to click in the map, and no other links to go anywhere else; so from my point of view, this Right-screen and the other Main-screen are the last ones. In this right-screen qe find a still-image of what seems to be a skull of a cow with a map on it. By its side there are 3 cowboy images riding a cow, and if you put the mouse over them you'll find 3 different texts from Travis talking about freedom.
And now , as there are no more options, you can go back to any of the screens by clicking in the map, or you can go and read the “About this project” screen…But when you get to this point, it means the hypertext is over.
My blog: http://belvia.blogs.uv.es/2008/11/26/reading-the-hypertext-rules-second-paper/http://belvia.blogs.uv.es/2008/12/10/2nd-partreading-the-hypertext-rules-toolssecond-paper/