Washington and DesBrosses Street.

February 2000



A Stab at a New Form

When my dear friend Helen Keane visited from Australia last month, I spent a bit more time in fancy restaurants and museums than I might ordinarily do. One of the places we visited was the Museum of Modern Art, a place I usually avoid because they've been rearranging the same permanent collection since I was in high school.

Of course, they insist it's entirely different exhibit every time, and this time it's called "Modern Starts," a celebration of the first decades of the twentieth century. While Helen and her sweetheart Daniel were enjoying the Brancusi bronzes for the first time, and I was being annoyed by them for the fiftieth, I escaped downstairs to the new video lounge and did some thinking.

The early modernists were interesting (for a few viewings) because they were using the best new technology of their time, and they addressed topics of their time - they were truly of their time. One of the reasons I felt stuck was that I was trying too hard to put old-fashioned long literature on the web, where it's simply not appropriate.

That was when I decided to experiment with hypertext, a medium I've always avoided.

Most hypertext sites are either horrifically underproduced - they look as if they were created with the 1996 version of a sitebuilder program, or terribly overproduced, to the extent the actual words are nonsense. Besides, I don't think people necessarily want to create their own version of a story as they go along. They want a story to be told.

That said, people always do want to be insiders - to know what's going on behind the scenes - and people also love to gossip behind other peoples' backs. That's why I decided to structure my hypertext experiment to allow that.

I'm anxious to hear your reaction.

A Minor Site Redesign

I usually try to redesign the site once a year: things start looking very old very quickly on the web. Although xmel.com has been consistant with its black and white theme and simple format, a few ancillary colors have been changed along the way, along with certain facets of the site's navigation. (You can see how a few earlier incarnations looked in Read Old News below. )

For the current redesign, I repackaged most of the older content of this site into an expanded "archives" section, covering the years 1995-1999. These are stories that are static, not being added to or revised, and features that are rapidly going out of date, such as the "Characters' Voices" section with old AU files.

I've added a few landscape drawings, as well - previously, I had done only people - and changed the grape link color I was tired of for a cherry color I will soon be tired of.

There were selfish as well as design reasons for this move: I don't really need reader comment and suggestions on stories that were finished years ago, but on current work that I'm now developing. Part of benefit to me of this site is that it's a two-way enterprise, and this reorganization will help me keep it that way.