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Technical Hypertext Accessibility Information Structures and


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									                     Technical Hypertext Accessibility:
               Information Structures and Rhetorical Framing
                                                             Lawrie Hunter
                                                     Kochi University of Technology
                                      Miyanokuchi 185, Tosa Yamada, Kochi, Japan 782-8502

ABSTRACT                                                                    development of model text, hypertext is a useful mode of
                                                                            presentation, given its flexibility of manipulation of (multiple)
This paper outlines work in progress towards using information              views. However, informal surveys suggest that successful use of
structure maps as a graphical means of informing the reader of              hypertext for considerate technical text calls for some degree of
his/her position in a hypertext array, and of the rhetorical intent         explicit signalling not only of content structure but also of both
of any given utterance. The graphical navigation aids described             utterance intent (rhetorical move) and lexia position within the
here support the non-native writer’s (NNW) use of model                     greater document.
technical text, and provide an inroad for developing NNW
awareness of the distinction between information elements and               2. INFORMATION STRUCTURES
rhetorical devices.                                                         Mohan [7] proposed six "knowledge structures" or patterns of
                                                                            meaning and language that appear in discourse: description,
Categories and Subject Descriptors                                          classification, sequence, principle, choice and evaluation. The
H.5.4 [Information interfaces and presentation]: Hypertext/                 author has modified Mohan's knowledge structures so as to
Hypermedia - navigation.                                                    creating a mapping of the irreducible information structures
                                                                            which are signalled explicitly in technical writing. These
General Terms                                                               information structures (description, classification, comparison,
Design, Experimentation, Human Factors.                                     sequence and cause-effect) can be represented [5] by iconic
                                                                            node-link-node graphics, such as those shown in Figure 1.
design, human factors, representations, information structures,
rhetorical frames, information mapping, navigation support,

The non-native writer (NNW) of technical English, for example
the Japanese engineering student, is attempting a multi-level
orchestration of rhetorical moves and information elements,
where information is framed by such moves as citation,
observation, and analysis, which are in turn framed by
overarching moves such as accepting, rejecting, questioning and
proposing. Often the NNW may not have full control of the
mechanics of even the information elements – and even in good
model texts the layers of this discourse are tangled in linear text
whose section-by-section structuring reveals only part of the
                                                                                   Figure 1. Iconic information structure graphics
rhetorical manoeuvring taking place. The NNW typically
acquires English technical writing knowledge through the                                            (Hunter, 2002)
observation, analysis and mimicry of model texts, and skill
through the monitored application of that knowledge.
                                                                            2.1 Information Structures, Graphically
                                                                            Within a technical document, information elements are grouped
This points to a need for 'considerate' model texts which                   around themes or topics. For example, Figure 2 shows the
distinguish between information elements and rhetorical moves.              information elements chosen by a journalist to introduce ocean
The difficulty of decoding these models can be further eased by             thermal energy conversion (OTEC) in a science magazine. Here
presenting the information elements as low-text information                 the information structure types are sequence and attribute
maps such as those developed by Hunter [5]. At this point in the            comparison.

 Copyright is held by the author/owner(s).                                  2.2 Adding Rhetorical Framings
 HT’05, September 6-9, 2005, Salzburg, Austria.
 ACM 1-59593-168-6/05/0009.
                                                                            Common web design practice uses the sidebar menu or the text
                                                                            line menu to signal the structure of an overall document and (at

times) the position of the viewed page (the 'lexia') within that           the highlighting of related map sections, and of structure and
document. The place of the information contained in a given                move tags. This approach also has applicability to writing genres
lexia within the information array of a whole document is less             other than technical-academic, given the system's capacity to
certainly signalled in such devices; table-of-contents type menus          vary the presentation of text structures, information structures
actually represent text structure (and the formal component of             and rhetorical move elements.
rhetorical structure) rather than information structure.

           Figure 2. An information structure map.                         Figure 3. Hypertext revealing text position, rhetorical intent
                                                                                   and information structure of lexia elements.
In technical writing, information elements are framed by such
rhetorical devices as citations, claim qualifiers and data
commentaries. It is essential that the reader of technical text be         4. REFERENCES
aware of this nested nature of technical text.                             [1] Armani, J. & Rocci, A. Conceptual maps in e-learning.
                                                                               Information design journal + Document design 11(2/3).
                                                                               John Benjamins. 2003.
2.2 Multiple encodings
A typical information element has multiple encodings in written            [2] Carter, L. Arguments in hypertext: a rhetorical approach.
language. For example, "hungry [cause-effect] eat" can be                      Hypertext 2000: Proceedings of the eleventh ACM
written in numerous ways, including 'We eat if we are hungry,' 'I              conference on hypertext and hypermedia. ACM Press.
was hungry, so I ate' and 'I am going to eat since I am hungry.'               2000.
The NNW can only gain confident knowledge of these                         [3] Horn, R. What kinds of writing have a future? Speech at
variations through what is referred to in the literature as                    Association of Computing Machinery SIGDOC, October
''extensive reading,'' the rapid reading of a large number of                  22, 2001.
documents without overly careful attention to unknown lexical
items, as opposed to intensive reading, which is meticulous,               [4] Hunter, L. Information structure diagrams as link icons.
dictionary-oriented, slow reading.                                             Learning Technology 4(3) July 2002.
                                                                           [5] Kolb, D. Twin media: Hypertext under pressure. Hypertext
                                                                               2004: Proceedings of the fifteenth ACM conference on
3. CONCLUSION                                                                  hypertext and hypermedia. ACM Press. 2004.
The planned application of this hypertext interface design, then,
is the creation of an extensive set of academic papers presented           [6] Mohan, B. Language and Content. Oxford University
in a hypertext format which consistently reveals the position of               Press. 1986.
each lexia in the overall document's rhetorical and text                   [7] Nanard, J. & Nanard, M. Using structured types to
structures; one of the formats under development is shown in                   incorporate knowledge in hypertext. Proceedings of the
Figure 3. Clicking on links in the information map calls up                    Third ACM Conference on Hypertext. 1991.
several variations of utterance expressing the mapped content,
                                                                           [8] Storkerson, P. & Wong, J. Hypertext and the art of
for learner awareness and for richness of second language input.
                                                                               memory. Visible Language 31.2. 1997.
In a complementary version, model research papers are broken
down into small lexia; clicking on sentences in a lexia results in


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