Writer Susan Gibb has been blogging her first encounter with Storyspace as a tool for writing. It's a terrific series of considerable interest.
- If you're a writer who is curious about hypertext fiction, here's an intelligent but skeptical colleague, recording her reactions over an extended period both to the tool and to the work she's creating.
- We talk a lot about experience reports and evaluation: here's the data. It's not a contrived experiment: Gibb is doing real work with the tool. It's not beholden to the developer, even indirectly; she's not our student, she doesn't hold a brief for the tool, there's no Media Equation effect to tempt the test subject to be polite to the investigator. This is, for hypertext systems, as exciting and valuable as Jane Yellowlees Douglas' famous reading logs were for hypertext criticism.
- Gibb makes some especially interesting observations on editing and revision. "[A] funny thing with this process in Storyspace," she writes, "in contrast to the static text I'm so familiar with, is that I'm not getting as easily tired of the story because it's all been changing so much. The characters are growing by the changes so they're becoming fuller and more interesting" I've seen this before, and writers have alluded to the effect, but I don't think it's been discussed in the hypertext literature.
- Absent a polemical or marketing agenda, Gibb's account wanders into some interesting places. In her November 9 posting, for example, she talks about the advantages of writing spaces and maps as a displacement activity, a replacement for dropping into Solitaire while you ruminate on what comes next. Valuable observations like these are easily overlooked, even in systematic usability or ethnographic studies of writing environments and tools.