ENSP 481, Midterm Exam

General Instructions: Save your work often during the course of this exam. I recommend that you write the exam in a simple text editor on the classroom PC, such as Write (the Windows Notepad may not allow you to write as much as you need to in one document). To run Write, open the file manager, pull down the file menu, select "run" and type "write" in the dialogue window. Periodically during the exam, pull down the file menu in Write and choose "save"; when you're done with the exam, pull down the file menu, choose "save as" and in the bottom left of the "save as" dialogue window, choose to save as file type "text files". Note the directory to which your file is going to be written, so you can find it again. If you use unix mail, upload the file to your unix account and mail it to me, jmu2m@virginia.edu. If you use PCmail, start PCmail on the lab machine and mail me the exam. If you have a diskette and would prefer simply to hand it to me on that, that's fine too. And last but not least, if you finish early you may elect to print out your exam and hand it in that way.

Please number your answers (I.1, I.2, II.1, II.2, etc.) so I will be sure to know what answer goes with what question. The exam is timed to take ten minutes less than the class period, in order to give you time for a break. You are welcome to consult any notes, readings, psychics, or other aids to memory and reflection--however, please don't talk to one another during the exam. I don't recommend spending your time browsing notes or readings during the first part of the exam, because you need to answer those ten (or eleven) questions in twenty minutes.

I. Short Answers:

Don't spend more than a minute or two on each of these--either you know or you don't. 2 points apiece: answer at least the first ten.

  1. Please give a one-sentence definition of hypertext.

  2. "Frame," "lexia," "workspace," and "card" are all synonyms for what?

  3. Fill in the blank: "_____ is an international standard for the definition of device-independent, system-independent methods of representing texts in electronic form."

  4. What is wrong with the following?

  5. Define "palimpsest."

  6. Why (or why not) consider the Bible a model for hypertext?

  7. What's the difference between hypertext and the Web?

  8. Briefly explain the statement that "The Web's strength, its portability across a spectrum of platforms, is also its weakness."

  9. What's the difference between "hypertext" and "hypermedia"?

  10. What (precisely, please) are the "poles" in the metaphorical title "Poles in your face," and what are they being compared to?

    extra credit (choose one)

  11. Name three "Netscape extensions" to the official HTML DTD.

  12. Where does the quotation in question number 8, above, come from?

II. Essay questions:

20 points apiece: answer any four. You should not spend more than half an hour in answering any of these questions. Good things: specific reference to any of the course reading, or to reading you have done on your own; imaginative extrapolation from the question asked to other, more interesting questions you would like to answer; good writing; clear thinking. Bad things: vague references, gestural generalities, factual error, unexamined assumptions.

  1. In the "Phaedrus," Socrates says:
          I cannot help feeling, Phaedrus, that writing is 
          unfortunately like painting; for the creations of 
          the painter have the attitude of life, and yet if 
          you ask them a question they preserve a solemn 
          silence.  And the same may be said of speeches.
    Please explain Socrates' analogy, and please explain why this analogy is relevant to our discussions in this class.

  2. Michael Heim has said, "Hypertext has nothing to do with computers." Please agree or disagree with this assertion. (NB: I can imagine interesting answers in either category.)

  3. What do you think are the major unsolved problems of hypertext, as it now exists? What are the shortcomings of the Web, and what problems can you identify that are independent of the Web, but inherent in hypertext?

  4. Is hypertext readerly or writerly, in Barthes' terms? To what extent? Why? Why not?

  5. In the project you and your group are working on, what do you think are the major conceptual, technical, and/or theoretical problems you face? How do you think you will address and try to solve those problems?

  6. The Electronic Labyrinth gives five opening gambits for hypertext authors, and it cites Landow's six types of overviews as well. Propose at least one more way of structuring a hypertext--a way not implied or contained in these other two lists--and explain how it might work. Your proposal(s) need not be constrained by current technology.

  7. In your estimation, what are the strengths and weaknesses of hypertext for different literary genres? Please discuss (and compare/contrast, as appropriate) at least two genres.

  8. Carolyn Guyer begins "From Page to Pixel" with the following question; please provide your own answer to it.
    	My question is this: is the transition from page to pixel a 
    	significant one? Let's hold off on all the new things you can 
    	do with words on a screen (hypertext, and so on) and focus on 
    	the physical act of reading text. 

Back to ENSP481 Home Page
Last Modified: