Site Design & Technology
Best viewed in a wide-open browser on a 25-inch or larger monitor. Google Chrome preferred; however, Microsoft Edge performs surprisingly well. The site is also designed for easy mobile viewing and link surfing, with icon-based touch navigation. While the mobile design is optimized for small devices, the content served is identical on any device. All pages are responsive; text and graphics resize themselves proportionally when the viewing window is squeezed or zoomed.
The site sits on a locked-down GoDaddy.com Linux server with 50 GB of space allocated. As of October 2023, about 8.8 GB is used. It is built using MadCap® Software’s Flare authoring tool, which offers project management control suitable for website development and automates time-intensive tasks such as menu construction and link integrity verification.
To enhance load speed for all users, the site is replicated on servers around the world (“load balanced”). Performance in Tokyo, Brisbane, and Paris (for example) should be comparable to that in any American location. As always, the better your graphics card, RAM size, and Internet connectivity, the better your experience will be.
The site centers around exploration of “Hans Phaall,” Pym, and “The Man That Was Used Up.” Topic pages describing each hoax are contained in a website folder, and each folder has:
a description of the reading text
folders for source texts such as manuscripts and first printings, critical surveys of scholarship plus commentary, and additional sources referenced by Poe (usually PDFs).
The browsing reader is gently directed toward the reading text first, then sources and criticism. Folders for Criticism and Literary Theory, etc., are in development.
Great care has been taken to locate and provide the exact source materials that Poe describes in each of the hoaxes and other texts. For convenient browsing, the sources are separated into pages and PDFs. One can click easily from web page to web page, but not from PDF to PDF by (Adobe’s) design.
Use the source texts to determine for yourself your conclusions, no interpreter-priest required. In fact, in each instance, Poe has arranged things such that you must inquire into his sources to appreciate the hoax.
Where appropriate, links to PDFs are provided within the text. For example, Poe cites many lesser-known and hard to find works in Autography, such as the works of Richard Penn Smith.
Designing is not a profession but an attitude.
— László Moholy-Nagy
What Would Poe Do?
This website is built along the lines that I imagine Poe would have followed, arranged according to his spare and exacting aesthetic. We know that his homes were furnished tastefully, but were also just right in appearance. He would have saved and hunted for bargains, but never for cheapness.
His proposed magazine would also be executed perfectly:
“The Stylus” will include about one hundred royal octavo pages, in single column, per month; forming two thick volumes per year. In its mechanical appearance — in its typography, paper and binding — it will far surpass all American journals of its kind. Engravings, when used, will be in the highest style of Art, but are promised only in obvious illustration of the text, and in strict keeping with the Magazine character.
The fonts used here hint at quaintness, but do not scream it. Edgar Poe does not live in a “quaint” time, any more than you do. He lives out his life as it comes. Adobe Gaultier Lights [sic] is used for body text because of its legibility and character; headings are in Adobe Pinot Grigio Medium. Textual tints and shadings are meant to help integrate page elements, as extrapolations of the home page portrait tone, determined using a pixel color grabber and interpolation from the specifications at colorhexa.com . Secondary navigation controls and indicators are “grayed out” to fade into the design background.
The body text color is a pure black, #000 to better simulate the starkness of black ink on a virgin white #fff “page.” This would matter to Poe, and I believe he would have made this choice of digital ink.
All textual decorations and special effects are formed with CSS. In some cases, HTML special characters, which are always crisp and can be colored, styled, and resized easily, are used in place of images. For example, the ✑ (pen nib, an homage to The Stylus) at the bottom of this page is specified by entering ✑ in HTML. We can use the extended HTML character ⅓ (vulgar fraction one third) to write “one picul (133 ⅓ lbs.)” instead of “one picul (133 1/3 lbs.),” which jangles the line spacing. This too would matter (very much!) to Poe.
Most but not all graphic images used are open source. Copyrighted images such as the home page portrait and manuscripts are under license (usually to a library, such as NYPL or The Morgan) and may not be downloaded. License information, wherever applicable and available, is given within the image caption.
All PDFs have been enhanced and sharpened, and their file sizes reduced as much as possible. However, they remain large and may load slowly, especially on mobile devices. The PDFs are all in the public domain, and may be re-distributed freely. PDF mages provided courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society are not copyrighted, and in some cases have been digitally enhanced for clarity.
Wide white margins create a “phat” look. Poe could not have afforded this extravagant use of paper, but we can do it with a simple .body-container command. A prominent 100% search bar subliminally encourages use but also unites the screen “halves” on PC.
Use the search bar at the top of the screen to “look inside” all pages except PDFs to find text. To search within PDF files, open the file first and then use the Adobe search facility (Ctrl + f).
Using the Toolbar
|Hide the Table of Contents. The icon changes shape.|
|Show the Table of Contents. The icon changes shape.|
Highlight words and phrases Poe uses as hoax clues in blue font. The icon changes shape.
|Change hoax font back to normal. The icon changes shape.|
|Found search items are highlighted in chrome yellow. Select to remove the yellow highlights (e.g., before printing).|
|Back up to the previous page within this site only.|
|Advance to the next page or PDF within this site only.|
|Send feedback on this site. An email pops up, partially filled in.|
|Print the current section.|
Navigation within Text
Navigation icons are used in place of underscored text for easy selection by finger or mouse.
|Link to a page within this site. Open in the same window.|
|Link to a page outside this site. Open in a new window.|
|Link to a PDF within this site. Open in a new window. (Use Ctrl + f to find text within a PDF.)|
|Select for linked background information on the current page, such as a color key.|