Semio-Surf: from Storyspace to HTML

George P. Landow

Leni Zumas, Brown University, Class of 1995, originally created Semio-Surf for English 115 (now 111), my class in hypertext and literary theory, in Eastgate Systems' Storyspace, a rich multi-window stand-alone hypetext environment, one of whose prominent features is the Storyspace View, a configurable folder or directory structure with potentially many layers. Zumas, like other Brown authors, made particularly witty use of this feature, arranging the top-most layer in the form of a TV Remote:

Other layers work differently. For example, the titles of a folder appearing one layer farther down spells out a sentence alluding to Calvino's If One a Winter's Night a Traveler, many passages from which appear interwoven throughout the web, but these lexias in fact contain La Vie Construite de Rita

Other subwebs, such as those for the Soap Opera and Quiz Show sections, display varying forms of geometric arrangements.

Although the present html version of Semio-Surf displays many of the strengths of the WWW, in some ways it appears far flatter as well as more disorienting than the Storyspace original. The Eastgate Systems software not only offers a range of features presently unavailable in WWW viewers, including (1) the Storyspace view, a (2) crossroads document that shows all links entering and leaving a particular lexia as well as (3) one's reading history. It also permits (4) multiple windows windows whose (5) location and size can be saved. I have tried to make up for these difference between the two versions of the documents by creating a series of headers, footer icons, and system of background colors to help orient the reader, and since this version exists on the Web, I have tried to take advantage of that fact by appropriating images and materials found there as well as by linking to other on-line documents.

Not all changes directly derive from differences in the software. In the Storyspace version, for example, following a link that opens the MTV lexia also plays the words and music of a particularly appropriate song --"Video Killed the Radio Star" -- which, for reasons of copyright, I have removed from the present version, and I have also removed certain of Zumas's original images, some again for copyright reasons and others in hopes of ultimately finding better versions.

Semio-Surf Titlepage Cyberspace Web Literary Theory Web Hypertext