Fall 1999 Syllabus
Instructor Dr. Christine Boese
Meetings 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm Weds. in 413 Daniel
Bulletin Board WebPub
Class Web Ginger
E-mail cboese@clemson.edu
Phone 656-5416
Office 605 Strode Tower
Office Hours 2-4 pm Weds., Tues., Thurs.
Department English
Program Masters of Arts in Professional Communication
Institution Clemson University

Table of Contents

Required Texts

Course Description


Required Projects

Tentative Class Schedule

How to Subscribe to the World Wide Web Artists' Coalition listserv

Required Texts:

Available in the off-campus Student Bookstore, corner of College and Sloan, and at www.bigwords.com, access code B-UBR9. This is a new service, so if they give you any trouble, there is always AMAZON. You might also look into a new online college bookstore, www.varsitybooks.com, which is giving away $10 gift certificates to new users.

Creating Killer Web Sites: The Art of Third Generation Site Design. 2nd ed. David Siegel. Hayden Books, 1997. See also http://www.killersites.com.

The Secrets of Successful Web Sites: Project Management on the World Wide Web. David Siegel. Hayden Books, 1997. See also http://www.secretsites.com.

Other Readings provided on Electronic Reserve and in a box in the MATRF Lab.

Optional texts recommended but not required:

Deconstructing Web Graphics 2: Web Design Case Studies and Tutorials. Lynda Weinman, Jon Warren Lentz, 1998.

Snow Crash. Neal Stephenson. Bantam paperback.1993.

You will also be REQUIRED to subscribe to the World Wide Web Artists Coalition (WWWAC) listserv during the time that you are enrolled in this class. It is part of the weekly assigned course readings. I recommend you subscribe in digest form, and refrain from posting to the list itself. This is a very active professional listserv based in New York City, and its members work in the heart of Silicon Alley. Naive newbies are often flamed if they say the wrong thing. Instead, if you want to discuss topics from the WWWAC list, lets take them to our class listserv, WebPub, instead, where we don't have to worry about sophisticated web professionals flaming us.

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Course Description

This course is a graduate seminar in the theory and practice of communicating effectively on the World Wide Web.

Prerequisites: Visual Communication Seminar 860.

Objectives: This course examines the evolving cultures of the World Wide Web in a proactive fashion, taking a rhetorical approach to interactivity and hypertextual structuring. Students will also study methods of professional conduct in the burgeoning field of new media, preparing them to enter a workplace where their skills are in high demand. Students will learn to plan, produce, and launch comprehensive "third generation" Web sites with a high degree of sophistication. They will also develop (on their own) personal project sites that will serve as their online portfolios to show future employers and freelance clients. By using a rhetorical framework and considering the effects on online audiences and cultures, students will be able to apply what they have learned to other situations as new media evolve online.

We will be using the collaborative electronic learning forum on the CLE. I will also introduce you to other leading edge forms of electronic communication, as we explore what it may mean to communicate effectively in the future. The most important goal for me is that the computers do not obstruct human interactions, but rather, that they become a tool for accessing people, images, and ideas, and thinking and writing about them.

This course will take both a theoretical and hands-on approach to web publishing and will include topics such as "real" and "pseudo" interactivity, hypertext theory, privacy and ethics, the rhetorics of online social movements, as well as issues in technology and social theory. This course will help you improve your ability to adapt to fast-changing web cultures and design trends, as well as to critically examine the social effects of those trends. It will not be organized around creating a list of "RULES" for web design, because the web is in a constant state of flux. Rather, we will learn to ride the chaos as the fragmented and socially constructed subjects we are. My goal is to give you critical tools to grow and thrive with the web as it continues to evolve as a significant force in our culture.

Four types of activities will take place in this class, and you are expected to actively participate in all of them.

We will have active discussions of assigned scholarly and professional readings (both paper and electronic texts). You are expected to come to class prepared to contribute to the seminar discussions at a graduate level.

We will also have public viewing of our case study presentations and projects, called "Crit Sessions" or "Crits," in which everyone will contribute positive and constructive comments, articulating the principles we have developed and learned. As part of this activity, you are expected to collaboratively author a class "textbook" for the course, as we creatively archive our collective knowledge-making in a class web site, called "Ginger" (named for the movie star in Gilligan's Island).

We will have minimal lecture and instruction in various software packages, as needed. You are expected to follow along in any tutorials, and to come to the aid of any nearby classmates who might be struggling. This class operates under the principle that learning is a collaborative experience. We will cover a lot of ground very quickly. You will have to stay sharp and help each other in order to keep up. If we all work together, we will be able to move past html fundamentals in order to have sophisticated discussions and third generation projects by the end of the semester.

Finally, a good portion of this class will involve hands-on workshop time, as you work on your projects and get help in process. Even with this in-class workshop time, you are expected to put in considerable hours outside of class on your projects.

Academic honesty is expected. Due to the interactive nature of the class, there will be many opportunities for collaboration on projects. However, it is not acceptable to turn in pieces professionally designed by someone else as your own work. I will enforce this rule most strictly.

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Coursework will be evaluated as follows:

Case Study Presentations: 10%
Participation in class listserv, chats, and face-to-face classroom activities and discussions: 10%
Audience Analyses: 15%
Storyboards and Site Planning Materials: 15%
Web Projects: 40%
Final Exam (Academic Research Paper): 10%

There will be three major web projects, one wild and crazy, existing as a site of experimental bleeding edge web design, one community-based and focused on evolving web cultures, and one more focused on pragmatic information delivery or e-commerce. There will also be

Twenty percent of your grade is based on Class Participation. This includes required reading response papers posted weekly to the WebPub class bulletin board, weekly case study presentations on the readings (archived and linked afterward on Ginger), and a final academic research paper that seeks to integrate what you have learned about hypertext theory, cyberculture, and e-commerce. Clearly attendance is mandatory, especially because this is an evening seminar where so much ground is covered. Please speak to me if you absolutely must miss class. More than one absence will adversely affect your grade.

I want to specifically request that you keep flaming to a minimum and treat all classmates with the honor and respect all human beings deserve.  I will be just another list member, posting along with you. You may also email me privately at any time during the semester.  Also, should you get carried away and accidentally write a response paper that you realize in hindsight is too personal or volatile for the public forum, you may send it to me privately, with a clear disclaimer explaining what happened.  I will give you credit and keep such correspondence private, but I expect it not to happen too often. Since this is a 15 week semester, there will be a required 15 minimum posts to WebPub, spaced out over the semester, on either assigned topics or open topics. If you do not meet this minimum number of posts, IT WILL adversely affect your grade. Please read that sentence again.

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Project #1: Collaborative Class Web Site. A no-holds-barred exercise in web creativity. Here is where we push on the envelope of web interface design. Ginger is YOUR site. It will evolve and grow over the course of the semester, linking our case study reports, archived discussions, and ongoing projects.

Project #2: Entering a Dialogic Web Community or Culture. Investigate and observe how cultures and communities sustain themselves on the Web. Individually or in groups, choose a sector of cyberspace that interests you and attempt to create a web site that both introduces and integrates your site into the ongoing conversations of that community. This is a study in rhetorical ethos and interactive communication. The biggest mistake web designers make is operating out of the model of an individualistic creator foisting her completed work out on an unsuspecting Internet, a shortsighted and one-way approach that doesn't really fit in a dialogic medium. During this project, we will be trying to develop a class definition of interactivity, as well as an attempt to hash out exactly what makes up an online culture or community.

Project #3 Developing a Professional Information Delivery or E-Commerce Site. Individually or in groups, find a real world client in need of a comprehensive and navigable web site. The selection of a client and site must be approved by the instructor. A simple storefront "hanging out a shingle" site will not be adequate for this project. Those kinds of pages are a dime a dozen, and the jury is still out on whether or not they will be effective. Rather, the proposed site design (and redesigns will only be considered if the work required is substantive) must adopt a comprehensive web marketing strategy, incorporating audience analysis and all that we will have learned about interactivity and user testing. There should be a clear navigational strategy as well, worked out in storyboards through various sectors of the site. The goal for this project is to take you beyond the status quo, beyond entry level, and turn you into sophisticated and web savvy site designers.

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Tentative Class Calendar

Note:  Please stay on top of class activities, since this is only a rough guide of what we will be doing and when.  I like to make adjustments as student needs and interests (or computer glitches) dictate.

Week 1 
Wed. Aug 18

Introduction to Web publishing and third generation sites.
Project Assignment: Learn Dreamweaver features, particularly round-trip html, styles, behaviors, and rollovers. Create Ginger with links to each student's homepage.
Reading Assignment for next week: Creating Chap.&2.
First Case Study Presentation assigned, Secrets/Decon.
Handouts: Hypertext theory

Week 2  
Wed. Aug 25

First Case Study Team Presentation/Crit, Secrets/Decon.
Project Assignment: Learn Photoshop features to control image size and color cube on the web. Fill Ginger full of rollovers. Refine homepages. Get crazy.
Reading Assignment for next week: "Preparing images for the Web," Creating Chap 3&4, and Secrets Part II, pp. 151-192.

Week 3 
Wed. Sept. 1
Professionalism, teams, and the client relationship.
Second Case Study Team Presentation/Crit, Secrets/Decon.
Project Assignment: Form teams to begin Project 2, Community/Cultural Web Site. Work on sites.
Reading Assignment for next week: Creating Chap. 5&6
Week 4  
Wed. Sept. 8
Interactive design, interface metaphors, invisible tables, and page layout.
Third Case Study Team Presentation/Crit, Secrets/Decon.
Project Assignment: Participant Observation Reports in an online culture. Structured Audience Analysis vs. Cultural Observation.
Reading Assignment for next week: Creating Chap. 7&8, Secrets Chap. 7&8
Week 5  
Wed. Sept. 15
Audience analysis, assessing client needs. "Storyboarding"
Fourth Case Study Team Presentation/Crit, Secrets/Decon. Project Assignment: Wrap up Project 2, Community/Cultural Web Sites, to get ready for site critiques next week.
Reading Assignment for next week: Creating Chap. 7&8, Secrets Chap. 6.
Week 6  
Wed. Sept. 22

"Page makeovers," "Project sites," "Personal sites."
Team Presentations of
Project 2, Community/Cultural Web Sites.
Project Assignment: Project 2 revision and makeover, with the linking all projects to a special area of Ginger.
Reading Assignment for next week: Creating Chap. 7&8, Secrets Chap. 7.

Week 7  
Wed. Sept. 22

"Phase One: Strategy and Tactics," Site structure, "Storefronts."
Fifth Case Study Team Presentation/Crit, Secrets/Decon.
Project Assignment: Begin finding clients for Project 3 Information Delivery or E-Commerce Site. Form teams and develop a production schedule. Arrange initial client meeting.
Reading Assignment for next week: Creating Chap. 9&10, Secrets Chap. 8.

Guest Speaker Betsy Book, Director of Production from flooz.com (formerly of iVillage.com) will be coming to class either in person or virtually sometime around here!! Think up lots of good questions to ask her.

Week 8  
Wed. Sept. 29
"Phase Two: Content Development and Design."
Sixth Case Study Team Presentation/Crit, Secrets/Decon.
Project Assignment: Work on Project 2.
Reading Assignment for next week: Creating Chap. 11&12, Secrets Chap. 9.
Week 9  
Wed. Oct. 6
"Phase Three: Production," "Galleries,"
Seventh Case Study Team Presentation/Crit, Secrets/Decon.
Eighth Case Study Team Presentation/Crit, Secrets/Decon.
Project Assignment: Work on Project 2.
Reading Assignment for next week: Extra Credit: Read the novel Snow Crash.
Week 10  
Wed. Oct. 13
"Creative Design Solutions"
Instructor Presentation of two contrasting sites.
Project Assignment:
Field Trip to two contrasting graphical chat rooms. Online Debate over issues in navigation and interactivity, to be archived on Ginger, along with a DEFINITION of REAL interactivity.
Reading Assignment for next week: Find sites for next week's Show and Tell, Cheers and Jeers. Prepare a list of URLs with summary analysis for Ginger.
Week 11  
Wed. Oct. 20
Hypertext theory redux, online surveillance, copyright, and ethics.
Show and Tell, Cheers and Jeers.

Project Assignment: Continue work on Project 2. Begin work on Final Research Project. Confer with instructor for topic approval. Update Ginger with Cheers and Jeers.
Reading Assignment for next week: Creating Chap. 13.

Week 12 
Tues. Mar. 30
Shockwave, Java, and CGI-Perl, PDF, VRML, and the future of the Web.
Ninth Case Study Team Presentation/Crit, Secrets/Decon.
Project Assignment: Continue work on Project 2 and on Final Research Project. Informal Shockwave and Flash demos.
Reading Assignment for next week: Secrets Chap. 10.

Week 13 
Tues. April 6
"Phase Four: Launch and Maintenance."
Tenth Case Study Team Presentation/Crit, Secrets/Decon.
Project Assignment: Group Peer Reviews of Project 2 works-in-progress. Research Project Peer Reviews. Comments archived on Ginger.
Week 14 
Tues. April 13

Site Presentations and Evaluation
Reports on Client feedback and launch date.
Final version of Project 2 Due.

Week 15 
Tues. April 20
Research Presentation Symposium
Research Presentations.
Final Draft of Research Projects due at time of Final.
December 8 Final Exam 6:30-9:30 pm

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How to Subscribe
to the World Wide Web
Artists' Coalition listserv:

To subscribe to the list, send a message to: wwwac-subscribe@lists.wwwac.org

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  The Rhetoric of Web Publishing, English 860, Clemson University.
© 1999 Christine Boese, cboese@clemson.edu All Rights Reserved