• Wampum as Hypertext

    Posted on April 21st, 2014 msmith88 No comments

    For the readings, I mainly focused on Haas’ Wampum as Hypertext, and I have to say that I had some trouble getting through the text. What I gathered from the article was that American Indians were the first skilled multimedia workers in in America. Haas brings up how wampum belts have been used as hypertextual technologies in Native American culture, and that this culture is significant for its rhetorical functioning.

    I found it very interesting that wampum was first used by coastal Indians, but the resource “traveled to the interior and western regions of the continent.” It was even used as currency in Colonial America. This goes to show that wampum had the ability to travel to different cultures through trade, as did many other materials during the time period. Haas makes some important observations about the similarities of Wampum and Western hypertexts within the article. The examples she sets forth made me realize that hypertext is not necessarily unique to Western culture.

    A feature of both Wampum and Western hypertexts is digital rhetoric. Here, Haas talks about how certain methods within these hypertexts are used to communicate information to “readers.” American Indians would string wampum shell beads as a form of a code. This type of technology could be represented as 0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0 (I’m a little confused what the zeroes signify). In Western hypertext, digital coding for computers is represented as 0|0|0|0|0|0|0|0|0|0| (again, not sure about the zeroes). The code signifies a “string,” which comes together to form information for readers. Also, I found that the visual rhetoric for these hypertexts was really interesting to read about. Haas talks about different wampum bead colors (dark purple and white) that inscribe a message through a certain pattern. In Western civilization, we are able to do this through digital coding. Digital coding can dictate features such as “font, layout, information design and display” to communicate a message.

    Although the readings were a little difficult to get through, I found that I was very interested in reading about how similar Western hypertexts are to that of Wampum hypertexts. It really made me think about how Western communication gives little to no credit to the American Indians communication features.

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