“…the primary source for serious hypertext” – Robert Coover, The New York Times Book Review

Storyspace for Dissertations

M. A. Syverson, winner of the 1995 Hugh Burns Dissertation Award at the Computers and Writing Conference, describes how she used Storyspace to write her prize-winning dissertation.

Storyspace was central to the process by which the dissertation was constructed. Although the dissertation took a conventional linear final form, I used Storyspace to scaffold the concepts and represent relationships among them. I had a box for each chapter, one for the abstract, one for "notes on the fly" and one called "concept map."

Typically I had two windows open . . . the overall map described above, and the . . . concept map window blown up. Inside this box was the set of boxes which represented concepts . . . and the links between them. Each concept box contained text boxes in which I put notes from sources on that concept . . . and my own notes. Links were established among these elements which helped me get a sense of how diverse materials . . . were connected to each other.

Storyspace was absolutely essential to the cognitive effort of keeping a large quantity of concepts, quoted material, notes, reflections, and relationships and also making some sense out of them. Because of Storyspace I did not panic about keeping so much diverse material in my head at once. As needed I simply added another text box and dropped material into it. I could move it around or link it to other boxes later as the connections became clear to me.

....I put into Storyspace ideas that occurred to me, but that were not relevant to the particular part of the draft I was working on. I put notes from sources as I was working directly into EndNote and Storyspace at the same time: in EndNote so that I would have them as permanent entries in my library of sources, and in Storyspace so that I could recover them by concept. . . . Storyspace was ideal for organizing materials by concept, yet still linking them to the author and to other related concepts.

As I've said before and continue to say, it's a dynamite program for lots and lots of reasons. I could wish for more control over the visual interface .... [but] it is a great cognitive processing environment.