ebr12 --<ebr 3.0



from "Weaving the Web" (How, December 2001) by Allison Hunter


version 2.0

Anne Burdick launched ebr's first official interface, ebr2.0, in 1997. Until then, ebr had been put together by the contributing writers and programmers since its online debut in November 1995.

For 2.0, Burdick gave the ebr logo a face-lift by adding an animated GIF of the word "book." It appears in a succession of typefaces (Garamond, Trixie, and Russel Square), which represent the various stges of print history: fine printing, typewriting, and electronically displayed text. She also created an electronic "pull thread" which looked like a vertical dashed line at the bottom of text pages. The reader could "pull" or click on the end of this thread to move to the top of the screen.

This textile metaphor also emphasized a woven relationship between past ebr topics and current articles. The ebr team envisioned a site where visitors could explore topics or ideas organically, moving freely between new and archived content. But after designing her second issue, Burdick realized that relationship wasn't working. "We were not enabling the kind of weaving activity that we wanted to have at the site. We just had a picture of it," she explains. So Burdick decided to do something about it.

She asked ebr readers and contributors for feedback about the site - which led to an all-out deconstruction of her design. "There were media theorists, literary theorists, art historians, and all kinds of people contributing to this discussion," Burdick recalls. "It just blew me away."

Some comments included challenging questions: "How are we going to kill information?" One contributor read the database as a cultural producer: "The database is not only an archive, but also a kind of dialogic facilitator." Another suggested the use of hypertext to enable a literary deejay: "Play the links like a musical instrument. A personal Re-Mix. An Academic Re-Mix. Guest Re-Mixes. Mix-It Yourself." This concept became the metaphor for the newest interface.

[the discussions leading to the new interface - and VERSION 3.0 itself - are scheduled for December 2001]

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