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Who am I?
Not an Expert, But an Explorer
I am a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, studying rhetoric and composition. This semester (Fall, 2000) I am enrolled in Writing and Emerging Technologies, a seminar that focuses on the impact of computerized technologies on the writing process, and I have decided to create this web page as a final project for that class. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
I have no expertise in monument design, just a lifelong curiosity in monuments and, fortunately, a good friend whose family has been in the monument business for almost 80 years.
I do have more experience in the field of composition. While certainly not an "expert," I have taught writing for seven years, five at the secondary level and three at the university level, and I have two degrees in English, a BA from Yale University and an MA from the University of Wyoming.
As for my knowledge of hypertext, except for using a computer as a glorified typewriter and as a research tool for crawling through web pages and library databases, I have no experience with writing documents in hypertext. So given my diverse purposes for this web project, think of me more as an explorer and a researcher, equipped with some knowledge and bolstered by a great deal of curiosity.
Comments on this Question
It feels both weird and solipsistic to address the question Who am I?, but I feel it is important based on my experience cruising the web. When I find web pages written by an anonymous "I," I often have to skim through much of the site to determine the author's credibility, a process that is both time-consuming and sometimes frustrating.
If I were writing a traditional essay, I would not even bother with this question for a variety of reasons. If this piece were not to be published, but were just written for a graduate seminar, my professor and classmates, the only readers for the piece, would know who I am and would not be disconcerted by the occasional use of first-person without much explanation..
If I were to publish an essay, either in a refereed journal such as "College English" or in a magazine such as "Smithsonian," there would be an "About the Author" or "Contributors" section that would inform readers a little bit about who I am. As well, the prestige of the journal or magazine, the mere fact that my work had been accepted and was being published, would provide me with enough credibility that readers would be less likely to question my ethos.
And, even in traditional essays that use "I" without much explanation, the reader through careful examination of the text can infer a great deal about the author. But, according to a number of researchers, people read web pages differently than they do traditional print sources. People tend to skim-read web pages, pausing in a few places to read or examine more closely, a process that Sosnoski called "pecking" (p. 168). Also, in a study of over 200 readers of hyperlinked texts, researchers noted that even when directed to read all of the text, people still read on average 85% of a text because of failure to follow all of the links (Wenger and Payne, 1996). Given these reading patterns, it is not likely that most net users will want to spend the time to determine the "I" of the web page.
More comments on Personal Information
I have not included any pictures of me or long discussions of my favorite activities or where I am from because I don't feel that that information is relevant or necessary for readers of this site. Some day, if I create a personal home page, then I may link this page to that, thus providing a reader who may be so interested more information about who I am. But until I feel more comfortable with the Internet, and as a woman I think there is more need for caution, I am a bit wary about putting too much personal information in such a wide-open public domain.
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