Mapping is a more efficient tool for invention than outlining for digital composition. Because the discrete elements that make up a digital composition do not unfold sequentially, Discourse Community Maps or Mind Maps help students anticipate final design goals of a hypertext essay or Domain site. Whether written by hand or with a tool such as mindmeister or bubbl.us, mapping encourages students to generate open ended, networked writing strategies. Further, mapping allows for students to visualize and then make the most of the connections between the communities to which they belong.
As a pre-writing or invention exercise for an independent hypertext or semester long web writing and research sequence, you may want to work through a version of the following exercises. Please note either or both exercises are easy to adapt to fit the specific needs of your course:
This exercise is designed to help students invent topics for a single hypertext essay or topics that will guide their websites and research for the entire semester. Students should emerge from the exercise with a topic that is both personally relevant and connected to larger social, political, cultural, etc. issues.
This exercise can follow from the one above or stand-alone, and works best as a prewriting/invention exercise for students new to web/digital composition. At the end of the exercise, students will have produced a 12-16 page hand written hypertext on 3“x5” cards or 8.5“x5.5” pages. The goal of this assignment is get students to draft a networked, non-linear representation of their websites free from the potential restraints and anxieties that may come from just jumping into a web writer and building a site for the very first time.
In the first appendix to her book, Beaufort adapts a “Discourse Community Map” from Scenes of Writing similar to the exercise above that I adapted from a course I took with Marc Bousquet. Beaufort leads students through the exercise to help them read and write discourse communities and genre. She provides a helpful series of questions to engage students in discussion around the invention activity along with an example map.