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Entre communautés et mobilité : une approche interdisciplinaire des médias

 | 
Serge Agostinelli
, 
Dominique Augey
, 
Frédéric Laurie

Media-aggregator The semantic role of the pro-text

Pier Giuseppe Rossi et Giuliana Pascucci

Texte intégral

INTRODUCTION

1It’s difficult to say what web 2.0 is: web applications, multimedia applications, aggregators of multimedia materials, knowledge building tools, community building tools, corporates of the knowledge economy. All the previous definitions are proper but no one can express by itself the overall meaning of web 2.0. Besides the difference among the various applications makes it difficult to create a unique identikit. We will start with the current literature analysis in which the web 2.0 common and most representative elements in different applications are highlighted to continue presenting a further analysis of the concept.

2To understand the web 2.0 it’s needed to observe it from different perspectives: economic, social, semiotic, informatics, didactical (Di Bari, 2007). Many of the existing analysis highlight either the characteristics of the economy promoted by web 2.0 or the technology and the informatics architecture been used, or the effects that web 2.0 produces both on the sociality and on the individual creativity.

3Web 2.0 is certainly the place where economy meets knowledge not as a support but as merchandise. Many authors present the web as a new production modality, more democratic and to some extent revolutionary in respect of the current economy (Tapscott & Williams, 2007; Yochai, 2007; Barners, 2007). The titles of the three books, «Wikinomics. La collaborazione di massa che sta cambiando il mondo» (Wikinomics. The Mass Collaboration that is Changing the World), «Capitalismo 3.0, il pianeta patrimonio di tutti» (Capitalism 3.0, The Planet Everybody Property) and «La ricchezza della Rete» (The Richness of the Web), are eloquent enough. Web 2.0 relies on commons, that is, on objects that can be used by everyone without restrictions and without fees, as happens for the freeware software, and on the horizontal production, that is the phenomenon of wide-scale cooperation and those elements are creating a production modality that is alternative to the market economy. Grazzini (2008) underlines how Internet and web 2.0 open new perspectives of production in which knowledge becomes the central element. He goes beyond the authors previously quoted and thinks that not only scenarios are opening towards the democratization of capitalism but they also project society beyond the capitalism itself.

4The productivity of web 2.0 does not depend on the owned knowledge but on the built knowledge and on knowledge being built. In primis in daily creativity that web 2.0 manager must possess to improve the applications in real time. Who works on web 2.0 must produce continuous innovation, nothing more. While Lyotard (1983) highlighted how in the post modern society innovation is more valuable than the product, and Baricco (2008) the speed more than quality, web 2.0 made of innovation its modality of being. It introduced the «eternal beta» that is, it’s difficult that an application will be released when it reaches its maturity. In most cases any fraction of hour a new version is released and, other times, different versions are released at the same time to check the acceptance of the audience. The second meaning is that web provides users with services to build knowledge or worlds and web itself becomes a net of knowledge that renews thanks to the direct participation of thousand of users. Just think about blogs, wikis and Flickr.

5Many authors (O’Reilly, 2005; Moro, 2006; Di Bari, 2007; Grazzini, 2008) consider web 2.0 as a bridge between users and knowledge. The applications are neither client nor content but powerful URL lists that connect the user to his/her goal. They are services before being content and this is the major difference with the web 1.0.

6On the informatic level the technologies used are not strongly innovative and they already existed. Anyway Berners-Lee (2001), the creator of the World Wide Web, states that web 2.0 is nothing new since has just reificated the already existing elements of the initial www project. It changes the way of combining and using those technologies. The central elements are applications that let pages to be modified and new content to be added in an extremely easy way and farm of powerful databases that contain the references. Finally a series of almost infinite utilities necessary to connect, recover and often connect in an automated way the different materials. Hence tags and RSS, surely the most characterizing elements of web 2.0.

7The effects of this architecture are mainly social. The easiness for everybody to upload content and create networks (tags are built from the bottom and let materials by different users to be connected in an automated way) has connected users and created networks and has transformed users in producers. Not just this. Many users are producers just for the fact of being consumers since the application tracks and remembers choices, preferences, evaluations.

8The easiness of uploading materials lets reading to be connected to writing. Today most users in the web are both readers and writers and often in a very connected way. While reading you often write and reading soon produces a comment, a new writing. There are changes both in the sense of writing and the way of producing writing, which produces writing as distance and a new sense of presence is inaugurated, something similar to oral cultures. It is not a case that Ong talks about a return to orality (1986). Those last considerations have pushed commentors to see a revolution in web 2.0 as important as the one of print and more in general in the Internet. (Grazzini, 2008). If print has enormously widened the number of readers and has determined the success of a culture based on the transmission of knowledge as an absolute and validated datum, Internet allows most people to become writers and shift the focus of transmission from the knowledge transmission to world building.

9Dol Dougherty and Tim O’Reilly coined the expression web 2.0, but they didn't provide its definition which was later developed thanks to the conferences about web 2.0 promoted by the two creator in 2005. Di Bari (2007) synthesizes the main elements of web 2.0 in a decalogue. Web 2.0 provides services, it is a platform, it is in the web, it connects many services, it is light, social, flexible, mixable, it self-develops continuously thanks to its users, it is involving and friendly. Some of these elements concern technological architectures, others involves social aspects.

10An aspect that is not considered in the previous analysis is what web 2.0 is from a semiotic perspective. Web 2.0 is communication, its elements are multimedia communications. But of what kind? Not simple texts, images, audio and video files or, better, texts, images audio and video files along with other. Another element neglected by all previous analyses is the communicative function of web 2.0. We know that web 2.0 creates and we know that it creates sociality, social networks, profit, knowledge building, but what are the semiotic elements of those applications that produce those effects? And what roles do they play?

HYPOTHESIS OF RESEARCH

11Even if we don’t deny the validity of the previous definitions, the hypothesis of research we propose is the following: semiotic approach can be useful to analyze web 2.0 applications because it lets communicative functions be highlighted fostering and rationalizing the design of the application themselves.

12A web 2.0 application can be defined as media-aggregator, that is an application that has the main goal of aggregating, organizing, sharing and making media objects available. Those objects, which are not always present in the application itself but are often linked to it, are valued and made available by the utilities of the media-aggregator.

13The media-aggregator is a media artefact constituted by multimedia texts (which can be present or simply linked) and by a frame (pro-text) that intervenes in the interpretation, manipulation and sharing of its texts. The pro-text provides tools to orientate, to decode and produce further writing and these are the main functions of web 2.0.

14The media-aggregator, even if it includes texts, images, sounds and videos, is not restricted to them or to their aggregation, because the pro-text intervenes in a relevant way on the overall meaning. The pro-text has elements of proximity with the paratext. Genette (1989) considers the paratext as everything around a text and distinguishes the peritext (elements in proximity of the text) from the epitext (external texts connected to the text we are dealing with). The need to shift from the paratext to the pro-text comes from the nature that today the multimedia communication has gained.

15In classical texts there already existed a paratext that helped contextualize their meaning and contributed to their interpretation, but its value was not always relevant. In a media-aggregator «the interpreting circle» greatly influences the artefact and modifies the meaning of its texts, where the user becomes the prosumer. This is the relationship between structure and posted writing in a blog and between structure and images in a photosharing application like Flickr. On the other hand, it would be reductive to define as text the textual sections of a blog that are external to the posts: the menu, the links, the indications, the categories, the tags, the descriptions of the blog’s author, the posts’ index and the blogroll or the social software connected.

16Thus the media-aggregator is not a «consumer», but, quoting Manovich, a «processor of media» (2000, pp. 39-45). So the change happens both on the production and fruition level. The designer deals with different media in only one environment, a media-aggregator. From the user point of view this implies a wider interaction and opportunity of individualized management in the choice of communication channels. The media-aggregator offers tools able to modify both the work modality of the producer and the one of the reader. Who builds and writes the pro-text? There are maybe two typologies of pro-text: the one created by the producer and characterized by real and potential objects and the one developed by the prosumer who can insert materials (tag) and remodel the website at multimedia level inserting objects according to the possibilities offered. We can distinguish between the constituent elements of the pro-text besides the format of the screen (menù, links, cathegories, tags, social software connected), its web design, interaction and remediation of textual, visual, audio, audiovisual media defined by its producer we can have also a pro-text characterized by inner and external peritextual and epitextual signs, defined mainly by the producer and left in the space by the person who has «used» it, recovering the distinction proposed by Genette (1989). If we accept such hypothesis we can identify in the external frame personalized by the reader an epitextual space and in the inner personalizations allowed by the social software a peritextual space. Before dealing with the analysis of the protextual elements from a semiotic viewpoint we will delimit the concept of web space.

THE SPACE IN THE WEB

17The term space assumes in the semiotic context different meanings (Greimas, 2007, pp. 338-340), in the phenomenological analysis of the space of online writing proposed by Max van Manen & Catherine Adams (2009) the author is surrounded by a complex spatiality provided by the physical experience (the space of writing), temporal experience (the space of text) and virtual experience (the cyberspace). The space of writing is at the same time physical and temporal and once the right condition of writing and/or reading is found we can access the space of the text.

18«When we open up a book or when we open a new page on our word processor and we enter the perspectival space of the text we enjoy a temporal experience of opening ourselves to, and an opening of, the world evoked by the words of the text. Perhaps the experiential meaning of the space of the text lies in this ‘opening’ that we seek but never quite find.» (van Manen & Adams, 2009, p. 12).

19Online writing keeps both the aspects that characterize the textual spatiality: the one related to the more familiar hand writing and the one related to the distance of the word processor.

20«In a wikispace, for example, a text can change without notice from its original, having been edited, rewritten or even entirely obliterated by another writer. In a journal database, our words persist unchanged, mimicking the constancy of printed text. In yet another online environment, we may suddenly find our words made public in an unexpected, unintended way, and irretrievably lost to our reach or recourse» (van Manen & Adams, 2009, p. 13). In the e-mails, in the forum and in the blogs we read and we are read by others only through writing without any visual or oral interference. «Here, textuality is the sole interstitial site of meaning, presence, contact, and touch. Otherness is felt in the particular choice of words, in the style and tone of writerly presence, in the manner participants respond (or not) to others online. All else is left to the imagination. In this way, writing online forces us into a mode of pure relation» (van Manen & Adams, 2009, p. 17). Online writing in such a circumstance loses the temporal and spatial quality peculiar to handwriting in favour of the immediacy peculiar to the oral conversation (van Manen & Adams, 2009, p.18)

21Writing in the cyberspace, as analysed by Max van Manen & Catherine Adams (2009, pp. 14-17) recovering the observations of Bruce Sterling, is like accessing a space ‘between’, in a ‘dark electric netherworld’, that echoes back to the obscure literary space in which, according to Blanchot, the author lives (1955). In the analysis of the French critic, in fact, the literary space is a metaphor of the nocturnal space where writing was born and shows itself and that moves continuously in the domain of «neutral» taking part in the organization of the space itself.

22The fact that the new technologies have represented a conquest not only at technological level but also at behavioural and educational level can be based on the work of the American anthropologist Walter Jackson Ong (1986) and the mass media expert Marshall McLuhan (2002), who observe the way in which electronic communication media transform the models of thinking and social organization. In regard to this, Landow (1998, pp. 116-117) highlights how the evolution of electronic writing in the hypertextual form, instead of «maximizes commitment of the word to space and to (electronic) local motion and optimize analytic sequenciality» [Ong 1986, p. 191], allows reading and thinking in a non linear way reducing the artificial isolation of the text from its contexts. «Writing, alphabet, print, cyberspace», Pierre Lévy observes, «every layer integrates the previous one and takes to a new expansion and cultural diversification» (2000, p. 210). The cyberspace integrates all previous media and the mechanisms of their communications, supports intellectual technologies who increase memory, imagination, perception and creation; it allows hypermedial communicative forms «one to one», «one to many» and «many to many» on a large scale and the interconnection in real time. To conclude, what stated by McLuhan is recovered and developed when it’s said that technology is the aspect that starts a series of environmental changes. The environment is the dynamic background (not a container, but a processor that totally changes the content) in continuous transformation in order to reply to a new technology, not immediately recognizable by users who remain disoriented because they are initially unaware of the psychological and social effects created by the reconfiguration of the environment (McLuhan, 1998, p. 21).

23Every «place is a language» since every place is delimited and controlled by a specific code, the same way the bidimensional universe «Flatlandia» is, a universe described in the famous fantastic novel by reverend Edwin A. Abbott and anonymously published in 1882, in which it’s described the coming of a tridimensional world and multidimensional worlds are theorized, worlds that just wait for someone to discover them. The bidimensional «form» of the text and consequently the space in which it is called to «live» assumes in the web multidimensional connotations. The web space is a metaphoric place for digital writing and a space of media aggregation, remediation (Bolter, 1993; 2002; 2009), action (Ricoeur, 2004) and social relation (Granieri, 2009). This finds correspondence with the quick evolution of technology but also in the literary and semantic criticism that brings into question the idea of the text and its «space» in the way it was conceived till that time.

24The analysis of the spatial elements of writing and of their textual manifestations done by Jay David Bolter in the first edition of «Writing Space» (1993) describes how the hypertextual writing, metaphor of the human thinking, affects both the textual genre (content) and their supporting material (form). In the second edition (2002) the author recovers what previously theorized in the light of the quick technological development of the web explaining how the digital text has introduced new reading and writing modalities besides producing a remediation of the characteristics of the analogical print. In fact the hypermedia, according to the expert, proposes a remediation of print proposing a sort of return to orality characterized by the presence of vocal media (voice) and visuals (images) hypermediated by the computer (2002, pp. 43-65). The relevance of visual media, peculiar to the digital age, makes the web as an ideal place for Bolter for the expression of writing with images and the better remediator for print format. Already in the first edition of «Writing Space» the author presents the concept of «topic writing», made of places, capable of fostering a logical and spatial organization of content (1993, pp. 23-24) observing how it is related to the human way of writing. Besides the literary space the digitalization of media reconfigures also the «visual and ideal space of writing» (Bolter, 2002, p. 23) so that we believe to navigate in the web while actually data move from the web to the computer. The space of the electronic writing affects both the screen where it is visualized and the hardware where it is elaborated and memorized producing “a space of fluid writing, visually complex, and changeable by boot the person who writes and the one who reads” (Bolter, 2002, p. 24).

25In Remediation, written with Grusin, Bolter (2009) applies the intuition of McLuhan, «the content of a medium is always another medium» (2002), to the concept of multimedia, observing that the content of digital media is provided by the other media since «a medium is what it remediates. A medium takes techniques, forms and social meanings from other media and tries to compete with them and to remodel them in the name of real» (2002, p. 93). On the technological level the computer, like television, cinema, graphics and digital photography represents for the two professors of New Media studies a network of remediation, a «manipulator of symbols, thus, able to remediate previous technologies based on an arbitrary manipulation of symbols like handwriting and print» (2009, p. 94). Digital technologies use a process of remediation more powerful since they rely on both the logic of immediacy and the logic of hypermediacy. The first aims at making the interfacing device transparent between the user and what is represented; the second at making it visible even if, as demonstrated by Bolter & Grusin, the immediacy to reach high levels of natural forms needs the hypermediation (2009, pp. 43-78; pp. 109-116). The web space uses both strategies: «in such applications, graphics, sound and video digitalized images are often seen as transparent representations of reality, while bottons and hyperlinks remind the user that he is taking the helm of a hypertextual program for computers» (Bolter, 2002, p. 245).

26In such a space the role of text and paratext (Genette, 1989), experiences a hierarchical turnover as Tomasi observes (2005, p. 715): the role of paratextual elements must take priority «forcing the person who is in charge of authoring to take care of both the organization of information in a pluridimensional space and the setting of a system of signals to be around the text, that is, the paratext, signals to be functional to make the access to the content easy for the reader and harmonize the communicative context». Even if, as it is underlined by Landow (2005, p. 26), it becomes more and more difficult to distinguish between the textual elements and the paratextual ones since: «some hypertexts make links visible as paratextual, as something added to the main text, while others make the links appear so relevant for the hypermedial document to make tham appear mainly textual».

TEXT AND PARATEXT

27The idea of paratext, developed by the French literary critic Gérard Genette (1997; 1989), is addressed as a «privileged place of pragmatics and strategy, of an action on the audience with the task, more or less understood and achieved, of making the text more acceptable and of developing a more pertinent reading for the author and his allies» (Genette, 1989, p. 4). The paratextuality, thus, determines the relation between the text and its «secondary signals, autograph and allograph, that provide the text with a frame (variable) and sometimes either an official or out of record comment» (Genette, 1997, p. 9). Substantially for the French critic the paratext is made by an irregular set of practices and discourses that provide the text with a pragmatic dimension whose aims are the distribution and fruition. A «threshold», a space of transition/transaction between the text and the reader, a space made of a series of elements that Genette places around the text (peritext) and far from it (epitext).

28Following the taxonomic proposal of Genette we can distinguish a spatial peritextual trajectory from an epitextual one: in the first there’s everything around the text with the function of presenting, orientating and explaining (cf. cover, inside flaps, dust jacket, wrapper, kind of paper, tipographic composition, size, title page, author name, title, dedications , epigraphs, prefaces, introductions, acknowledgements, intertitles, index, notes etc.). In the spatial epitextual category we have “any paratextual element that is not connected to the text in the same volume but that goes freely in a physical and social space virtually unlimited” (Genette, 1989, p. 337). This is addressed by Genette in: newspaper articles, posters etc. (editorial epitext) and reviews, critical editions etc. that don’t depend directly on the author (out of record allograph) and have mainly a promotional aim; in interviews, presentations, conversations with the author (public epitext authorial) and in letters, private diaries etc. (private epitext authorial) that can have the function of building a paratext authorial aimed at guiding the interpretation of the text. But, as Genette underlines, the functional choices are not alternative and sole; they can at the same time aim at different objectives, chosen within the repertoire peculiar of each element (Genette, 1989, p.14).

29We believe that also in the web space a paratext can be identified, both as epitext and as peritext. We also believe that the paratext has in the web a more relevant importance that we are going to highlight. At a semiotic level we can face the analysis of the paratext using both an informatics approach and a functional one. To describe the paratext in the web space we prefer to start from its functions. The presence of paratextual elements:

  • allows the navigation;
  • helps orientating the reader (Iusi, 2005, p. 706);
  • fosters a «diffuse authorial» (Tomasi, 2005).

30If partly those functions are similar to those of the paratext of the print text the modalities with which they are applied in the web space and mainly the third function produce a strong «criss cross landscape» .

  • The informatic approach is characterized by a stratified structure on different levels: from the operative system to the specific applications till the inner features of the applications. It’s clear that the different categories are not in a deterministic way connected, that is, for a given function they can contribute all the three levels:
  • a first paratextual level is given by the interface of the operative system chosen by the user (Windows, MacOs o Linux).
  • a second level is represented by the browser that as Francesco Iusi observes (2005, p. 706) besides guiding in the navigation it allows to build a paratextual personalized level.
  • a third level is represented by the specific application. It is characterized by the linguistic and structural characteristics peculiar to the multimedia publishing (Eletti, 2003, pp. 44-51).

31The linguistic component of a multimedia product, and thus also found in the paratext, is given by the interaction of three factors: informatics, publishing and audiovisual. The informatics component, as we have already seen, is not only the technical level on which multimedia publishing is based, but is also a discipline that brings contents: it lets the author express through more media and go along with the direct action of the reader on the text, contributing in a decisive way to the birth of hypermedial language thanks to the logical rigour, the modularly of structures, the non linearity, the precision and granularity of its definitions (Eletti, 2003, p. 45). The publishing component represents the content not only textual, but also visual and sounding recalling thus other kinds of languages besides the verbal one and other professional competencies besides the ones of the writer (graphic design, design of the page...). The publishing component has to amalgamate heterogeneous media in the same space for an effective communication since the paratextual structure in the digital space becomes part of the text itself: «the paratext, practically, is not only made of words with which the author expresses his choices but also the structure of the decisions the author took and explored by the reader» (Iusi, 2005, p. 705). The audiovisual component implies, instead, the way the multimedia publishing presents itself and mostly the development of time (cf.rhythm, sequence, contiguity and parallelism in the narration) of the different fragments of meaning recalled by the action of the user (Eletti, 2003, p. 46).

32But as previously said a function of the paratext is to foster diffuse authorial. If the paratext of the printed book is mainly constituted by information in the paratext of the web space we have both information (file name in the application «word»), and commands (again in «word» we can think about a button for the format). For such complexity we think it’s necessary pass through a remediation: from Genette concept of paratext to the definition of pro-text. This is mainly due to the role that the web space has not only for the producer, but also for the prosumer. The pro-text is the one that makes real what in 1972 Marshall McLuhan and Barrington Nevitt had imagined communicating that technology would have made any consumer a producer.

33In order to describe the most common components of the paratext or better of the pro-text in the web space as previously proposed, it’s essential to firstly identify the field/functions and the connected commands/information in which we can divide the pro-text (cf. Table 1). It has the following functions: navigate, orientate, aggregate/structure/manage, produce and socialize.

Table 1. fields/functions of pro-text

34The pro-text lets you navigate inside the document or in the documents connected and such functions are strongly tied to the materiality of the medium.

35While the navigation of a printed text is connected to its physical structure and it’s changed during time, (unrolling a scroll is different from leafing through a book), in the web space the commands present in the pro-text guarantee the reading. They are present both in the application (links), and in the browser (back button), and in the window of Windows. The second function is the one of orientating the user in the navigation of the site and so it has a semiotic and semantic role: it suggests the navigation (highlight a link, add bookmarks) and thus has a semiotic task, but it also orientates to the activity (e.g. in an educational environment it facilitates the understanding of the learning path, the structure of the course). The third function is the one related to the organization of different elements (aggregate/structure/manage). Also in this case we have a semiotic aspect created by the possibility of connecting different materials, with indicators or with «copy and paste», and semantic aspects as we see in the e-portfolio where new products and meanings are created by aggregating materials present elsewhere or in a training course when we link in a personalized way what has been uploaded by different authors. There is, then, the possibility for the user to create new materials and modify the existing ones and to facilitate the creation of a community even if in a certain sense, what lets you aggregate it lets you create sociality. In this last category we put the buttons that let you send a page to a social software, let you know who is online, let you invite someone to join a chat.

SOME EXAMPLES

36The proposed analysis has a specific aim: to verify if the aggregation of buttons according the function can provide useful indications for software producer and can improve the usability of the application.

Googledoc

37The first element that we found relevant in the analysis of the first example is that we have two frames, one inside the other. The first frame consists of the whole page and it’s provided by FIREFOX, the second one is the frame of googledoc (cf. fig. 1)

Figure 1. Googledoc. Frame of Firefox

38FIREFOX’s frame addresses mainly the epitext, that is, it connects the present file with external files and applications: connections to delicious, google, diigo, to the personal home pages and different bookmarks. We have to underline that among the buttons inserted with Diigo some let you modify the text we are examining (highlight and adding comments).

39Googledoc’s frame is surely richer and interesting and deals with both the epitext and the peritext in a balanced way. (cf. fig 2).

Figure 2. Frame of Googledoc.

40Figure 2 presents only the second frame. Being Googledoc a tool used for individual activities we don’t have many blue sections and to socialize there’s only the e-mail exchange. The yellow sections tell us where we are, what we do and how to do (help), while the green sections provide the tools to do things. We remain with the doubt if we have to divide the tools useful to structure and the ones useful to aggregate. In this case the act of structuring is related to everything useful to save and manage a file while aggregating is only related to the menu «add». Also in this case we have a doubt: to add an image in a file is related to aggregating or manipulating? With grey is clearly indicated the text.

Flicker

41Among the analysed social photo sharing applications Flickr shows itself as a thematic web site where registered users can share photos and video of little size (maximum of 90 seconds length and 150MB). While in the free account we can rely on 100,00 MB a months to upload photos and 2 videos, in the pro account we can have unlimited storage, the possibility to create infinite number of sets, access to original files, autostart of the account, the chance to explore and share without publicity, reproduction in HD for the video upload.

42Once registered the user has the possibility to organize his page using different styles. In such way the personalization is considered by us as the possibility to modify the space itself of the pro-text. As GOOGLEDOC, also the visualization of FLICKR is characterized by a double frame (cf. fig 3).

Figure 3. Flicker: double frame

43The first epitextual frame is the one provided by the browser and can be personalized by the user, as shown in the previous analysis besides the formal adjustments offered by the connection device (computer, mobile phone). The second frame (epi and peritextual) is the one related to the site that lets the user, just registered, navigate and orientate but also understand the possible uses of the available services. So in the site are shown the possibilities to upload, modify and organize and share photos and videos online. At first we can see how every activity proposed is always accompanied by a series of information for a proper use.

CONCLUSION

44The previous analysis seem to have showed as in some web 2.0 applications the pro-text plays different roles, some informative, others manipulative and those can be grouped in five main functions: navigate, orientate, create, aggregate and socialize. The remediation has added to the mainly informative functions of the textual paratext, the act of creating and socializing that are mainly manipulative functions and therefore has presented a structure that can be divided into a peritext and an epitext.

45The analysis here proposed has two main applications:

  • facilitate the activity of the reader/writer;
  • guide the web designer to organize spatially the information and the commands present in the pro-text and improve the usability of the application.

46Particularly the second aspect highlights that the organization of the pro-text is mainly spatial, that is, its communicative efficacy depends on two factors: firstly on the icon/symbol that characterizes every info/command, secondly on the position it has in the web page. The role of space can be seen as the red thread that goes through the present contribution. We have started from the analysis of the space in the text, to analyse afterwards the spatial structure of the pro-text, to state in the conclusions that the spatial organization of the pro-text more than the single commands and info, facilitates the navigation and the orientation on one hand and the creation, aggregation and socialization on the other hand. For this reason the pro-text in the web 2.0 applications has a central role. The protextual space guarantees the main functions of the application itself and those functions connote the application more than the media text in it. For example the peculiarity of Flicker is not given by the images it contains but by the possibility to gather, manipulate, visualize, search for photos, socialize with authors of the photos. Those functions can be grouped in the term «aggregate». A similar description can be done for Facebook or Delicious. The commands that allow those functions are in the pro-text. The aggregation in the web 2.0 applications produces in a parallel way its effects on two levels: while aggregating concepts and media it connects also the authors/users of mass media and acquires a social function.

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Table des illustrations

Légende Table 1. fields/functions of pro-text
URL http://books.openedition.org/pressesmines/docannexe/image/679/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 151k
Légende Figure 1. Googledoc. Frame of Firefox
URL http://books.openedition.org/pressesmines/docannexe/image/679/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 259k
Légende Figure 2. Frame of Googledoc.
URL http://books.openedition.org/pressesmines/docannexe/image/679/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 198k
Légende Figure 3. Flicker: double frame
URL http://books.openedition.org/pressesmines/docannexe/image/679/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 162k

Auteurs

Direttore del Centro per l’informatica l’e-learning e la multimedialità

Dottore di ricerca in storia e conservazione dei beni culturali Dipartimento di Scienze dell’educazione e della formazione dell’Università degli Studi di Macerata, Piazzale Bertelli, Contrada Vallebona, Macerata, Italy

© Presses des Mines, 2010

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540