Moby Blook up and running — sort of

I’ve now created a new Moby Dick Blook. You can check out the link to see how it’s going, but right now there isn’t much there: just the standard WordPress entry-level blog. I’ll be customizing it in my spare time over the next couple of weeks. Feel free to take a peek whenever you want, and use the comments to let me know about features you’d like to see, complain about the design, or whatever.

Next, I’m going to create a text design using Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener.” I’m going to do this because I’d like to get feedback on the design of the blook before I actually create the real blook. I want to experience Moby Dick along with the other readers; I don’t want to conflate the reading experience with the design experience. Remember, the purpose of this project is to see if I can create an e-text that is as satisfying to read and “grapple with” as a standard text.

So, I’m hoping that by using “Bartleby” as my text-design template, I can create a design that is appropriate to Melville. It will probably be a bit weird, however, because I’m thinking about using a whale motif (very tastefully done, of course). Come to think of it, “Bartleby the Whaler” does have a bit of a ring to it…

Update: Bartleby is up now. Looks absolutely appalling, but we’ll get to improving it soon enough. Suggestions are welcome!

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5 Responses to Moby Blook up and running — sort of

  1. dave says:

    Okay, observation number 1: it’s just too long! Way too long for comfortable reading; way too much scrolling, not enough room for interactivity. There’s got to be some way to break it up.

    Here’s the plan. Arbitrary “page” divisions. There should be a break every 2-4 screens. This is why I need to modify the blog to go in reverse chronological order — the beginning of the story needs to be on top. Once I solve that problem, I’ll divide the story into more managable chunks — probably about 10 total for Bartleby.

    Yes, the divisions will be arbitrary. There’s no way to avoid that. When I do a full-length blook, there will have to be two levels of division: chapter and “page.” The chapter divisions will correspond to the author’s original intention of chapter divisions. I’m actually not too worried about the arbitrariness of “page” divisions. After all, the page divisions in a print book also have no relationship to the content. What goes onto a “page” will simply be determined by what makes for a manageable chunk of information. I might experiment with different length pages in Bartleby.

  2. Anne says:

    I’ve been following all this with lots of interest and intentions to weigh in here and on my own blog. Well, life intervenes… In any case, somewhere in all of this conversation from you, Scott, and if:book there was a link to the design of an international paper (Int’l Herald Tribune?) that has no scolling at all–each screen is a click through. That’s a lot of clicks, but I think it’s better than the split between click and scroll. My two cents, only…

  3. dave says:

    Yes, I remember that article, Anne. I’m not sure I agree with the premise that keeping everything on one screen is better than scrolling. I think this is taking the “book” metaphor a little too literally.

    After all, we’re very comfortable scrolling through lots of blog entries. What will be nice about the blook is that users will have the option of viewing one “page” — 3 or 4 screens’ worth of information — at a time, or reading “blog style,” where they can read one entry after another, with the contextual guide posts of the individual blog headings acting like pages in a printed book, chunking the text visually.

    The IHT offers a similar sort of flexibility, but I think there’s a problem with its system because there’s not a clear visual analog from the multi-columned version to the vertical-scrolling version. This would be like switching editions midstream while reading a book. Make sense?

  4. dave says:

    Okay, now I’ve divided it up a bit. The ordering is still a bit of a kludge, and I need to get the page numbers to show up, but this is starting to be what I’m after.

  5. Judy Warnera says:

    I’m interested in your experiment–I did try rereading Moby
    Dick about a year ago–a book I loved as a teen ager (I’m 63) but was unable to read it becau
    se of the terrible destruction involved with the whales. I read plenty of violent things, including true crime, so maybe it’s the power of Melville’s prose, but I had to stop. Judy

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