: design1

THE METAPHOR
The electronic book review was set up partly to encourage new thinking about what happens to literature and to written "texts" more generally when relations change among the material media of transmission, reproduction, and distribution. Our mission is suggested in the new logo, the first thing you see on the title page. The logo cycles among three typefaces; one of them recalls a classic typewriter font; one represents book print typography; and one is digital or electronic. These shifts from one typeface to the next suggest the translations and transformations among media, from manuscript to print to screen, that the electronic book review has been trying to foster all along.

Once in the journal proper, you will encounter a general contents page, called the thREADs page,from which you can link to every web project that has ever appeared in ebr. The contents are arranged by issue number and laid out vertically in a string that lengthens with each new issue. The archive (currently three full years' worth of ebr) and the link to the current issue thus exist on the same interface, creating a network that can grow indefinitely, accumulating information for as long as the journal remains in operation.

Yet there's more to the design than a line-up of back issues. As editors of an ongoing project titled "image + narrative," and as writers exploring the possibilities within a non-linear web culture and self-organizing media ecology, we are aware that long networks make poor narratives. Despite the plus sign in the issue title, we don't expect to have narrative coherence simply by adding on visuals. Constraints are needed to counteract the diffuse nature of endless hypertext connectivity. Back issues do not just gather on a shelf, as in print media; electronic archives lose their integrity over time if they're not used and their links to other sites are not periodically tested. Hence our designer has also found a way to gather the individual issues of ebr into a non-linear pattern, an overall fabric made up of colored "threads" from every issue.

This design governing visual metaphor, a set of interactive texts becoming a textile, can also serve as a navigational and rhetorical device lending coherence and narrative rhythm to the lengthening string of information. At the outset, the overall fabric is a dense weave, like a plaid, containing in its pattern the colors that were chosen for each particular issue of the journal (postfeminist red, electropoetics blue, eco-critical green, and cybernetic gray, etc.). As you go deeper into the content, into individual issues and then to the reviews and essays themselves, the bands of color get thinner, until nothing is left but a thread (which you are welcome to pick up in the riPOSTe section where readers respond to the published essays). Some of these threads lead out beyond ebr and beyond our host site, altx, to other sites and other web projects on the Internet. Another set of threads are internal, and soon to be color coded according to the signal concerns that we've established over time, with the various specials. The internal threads thus return you to related topics/essays/ passages within ebr itself, providing another alternative to the linear pathways from one tri- quarterly issue to the next.

From patterned overview to individual threads: however much information accumulates during the life of the journal and however hypertextual the journal becomes, the design should always clue you in to your place in the weave. On finishing any essay, a "pull thread" (running the length of the piece) takes you back to the top of the screen, from where you can return to the current issue or to the thREADs page, the place where everything comes together and all current and back issues can be accessed. The pathways among sections of the journal are given in black and white (the issue's chosen background colors are reserved for the essays and contents page). Information on authors, announcements for future issues, and guidelines for contributors are given in ebrINFO. A separate page, called reVIEWs, lists current and past book and web reviews alphabetically by author, title, and subject. Invited responses from readers, which are partly letters to the editor, but more often informal essays in their own right, appear in a section titled riPOSTe. After you've left a section, the title remains in the heading but is no longer an active link; once used, it becomes part of the weave, a figure in the carpet that stays in the background, letting the reader focus on other active links to other levels.

Pattern. Warp and woof. Gather. These are technical terms in knitting. They give visual form to a material process that develops through repetitions and variations, periodicity and accident, over time. They are the terms which clothe the image/texts in ebr.

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templates: | reVIEWs | riPOSTes | essays |