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Magpie as Design Metaphor

Like Delagrange's (2009) Wunderkammer or Lauer's (2012) rose, the magpie serves as a visual stand-in for my argument on what it means to create a review essay of webtext scholarship, as a fellow creative maker borrowing from and rearranging the focal authors' work, as a space for arranging/making beautiful or curious objects. In the print version of the review essay, I explored how each reviewed webtext included the authors' own stories as research materials to perform their arguments in varying ways. Translating this investigation to a webtext environment, I draw attention to storytelling craft by situating the three reviewed webtext projects in spaces of creative making organized around a visual metaphor of symbolic significance to each project's goals (which I elaborate upon in more detail on each review page). Connecting these three frames is the figure of a magpie, collecting objects from each space in order to fill its nest with treasures.

Although scientific research has formally cleared the magpie's reputation from all wrongdoing (Prynne), the magpie nevertheless possesses a folkloric reputation for taking shiny objects and hoarding them into a nest of treasures. To create this review, I traveled back and forth between the authors' creative web spaces and my own space-in-progress, taking the "shiniest" pieces and snippets from their own projects in order to rearrange them in my own creative web-nest. The magpie's ambiguous relationship to making and taking may reflect debates among digital composers on matters of copyright, intellectual property, remix, and fair use (Gaylor, 2008; Rife, 2014). The magpie is additionally an interesting metaphor to choose as one of the few non-mammals that can recognize its own reflection in a mirror (Prior, Schwarz, and Güntükün, 2008), considering the significant amount of self-reflection that goes on in much webtext scholarship in general, and especially in these three webtexts centered on research through reflective storytelling, an appropriate model to consider.

Though the remainder of the review essay will largely foreground the three focal webtexts amidst metaphorically significant spaces of making, keep an eye out for traces of the magpie at the edge of each space, as a reminder of whose nest in which this narrative ultimately makes its home.