Engaging the Reader

Whether we use linear or nonlinear modes on the Web, the major task is engaging the reader. Since your reader can link out easily to other sites, your essay is in effect in constant competition with its own outside references. Keeping the readers' attention on the argument may require inventive use of illustrations, given the visual dimension and flexibility of the media. It might also demand a greater degree of rhetorical skill. On the Web tight concise prose is necessary--you may only get one screen to catch someone's interest! Of course, there are technological solutions as well--you can simply refuse to let your reader out of your web. Since I am by no means assured of my rhetorical skill in this format, I have chosen a careful distancing of the exit points to other websites, connected arguments like my discussion of illuminating the text, and a few technological tricks. There are, of course, still a few problems.

breaking out of the text