Last updated on 11 Dec 1998 by Philip Tan
Occasionally Asked Questions
- Why did you write this hypertext?
This hypertext story was written for a course I was taking, 21L.708/21H.418 Technologies of Humanism: Erasmus to E-mail.
- I don't understand this story!
Don't try reading this like a book. This was one of our discussions in the early part of the course, and we noted that it takes a whole different set of skills to appreciate a hypertext. It's a challenge, but I think it's a skill worth mastering, since there's a lot of fascinating hypertext on the web right now.
- I've read all the lexia and I still don't understand this story!
Most hypertexts require two or three readings before you understand what's going on. You've got to approach it like a game, rather than a linear story. Hypertexts don't end when you've read all the lexia...they end when you feel like you know what happened to each character during story-time.
Don't forget to look at the History page for some info about sixteenth-century Lyon.
- Is this your first hypertext? How do I get in touch with you?
No. I think it's my fourth or fifth. If I fail to explain some of my motivations for doing things, I'm sorry...I've probably used it so often that it's become my personal style. Email me if you have questions or comments.
- Why is everything in black and white?
There's an occasional splash of color in the story, so the black and white motif enhances that bit of color. Also, I was trying to make the lexia look like printed pages, and every off-white color I attempted to use was either too dark or too variable between different computers. I decided to use a white background for clarity.
- Why didn't you use more ASCII text to speed up loading?
A big design factor in this story is the use of appropriate fonts. I chose a lot of screwy fonts that (hopefully) convey the personalities of the writers. I can't count on everyone who surfs into this site to have the weird fonts I have, so I just rendered them as GIFs.
- Why didn't you antialias your text properly?
I did, but then I forced all my colors to stick a 216-color palette. This restricts my use to 6 grays, and so my rendered text looks a little jaggy. Other people do this to make it load faster or look consistent among different computers. I do it because I think it makes the text look clearer.
- Yoo spellt sum wods incoreckly...
Let me know about them. However, note that Timothy Longman's texts use British spelling (e.g. labour instead of labor) while the others use American spelling. Given that I expect most of the readers to be from MIT, I thought this was appropriate.
- Why don't you include links to external sources?
I don't like to do that in the middle of a story. Once someone clicks on an external link, it's usually so jarring that one loses the framework of the story. There's a lot of power in external linking, but I've decided not to exploit every feature of hypertext and just try to present a self-contained story.
- Did you change anything on this site since its first incarnation?
I've turned the beginning of this site into what I call a 'diffuse entry', where it used to be a 'directed entry'. Put simply, now I give you full control of which character you want to start reading first. I think it works well. (thanks Dale!)
I've also stopped the icons from moving around...now the planetary icon will occupy the space where you clicked, and the rest of the icons are stationary in their positions. It should be a lot more obvious whose lexia you are reading, and hopefully the added mobility of the planetary icon will reinforce the role of time in this story. (thanks to Prof. Ravel for this one) Plus, I've also added a History page.
- Did you change anything in the story?
Not since I first posted it to the web.
- What books did you refer to when writing this story? Where did you scan your pictures from?
R. J. Shoeck, Erasmus of Europe, The Prince of Humanists 1501-1536, (Edinburgh University Press ,1993)
Craig R. Thompson, The Colloquies of Erasmus, (The University of Chicago Press, Chicago & London, 1965)
Lisa Jardine, Erasmus, Man of Letters, (Princeton University Press, 1993)
Natalie Zemon Davis, Society and Culture in Early Modern France, (Stanford University Press, 1975)
Elizabeth L. Eisenstein, The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe, (Cambridge University Press, 1983)
- Have I missed any lexia?
Well, I hate doing this, because it really ruins the context of the story, but some people find it useful. So here it is...
Introduction to the characters