2.1.2 Hypertext

Retrieved from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypertext

HYPERTEXT is text displayed on a computer or other electronic document with references (hyperlinks) to other text that the reader can immediately access, usually by a mouse click or keypress sequence. Apart from running text, hypertext may contain tables, images and other presentational devices. Other means of interaction may also be present, such as a bubble with text appearing when the mouse hovers over a particular area, a video clip starting, or a form to complete and submit. The most extensive example of hypertext today is the World Wide Web.


The prefix hyper- (comes from the Greek prefix “υπερ-” and means “over” or “beyond”) signifies the overcoming of the old linear constraints of written text. The term “hypertext” is often used where the term “hypermedia” might seem appropriate. In 1992, author Ted Nelson – who coined both terms in 1965 – wrote:

By now the word “hypertext” has become generally accepted for branching and responding text, but the corresponding word “hypermedia”, meaning complexes of branching and responding graphics, movies and sound – as well as text – is much less used. Instead they use the strange term “interactive multimedia”: this is four syllables longer, and does not express the idea of extending hypertext. — Nelson, Literary Machines, 1992

Types and uses of hypertext

Hypertext documents can either be static (prepared and stored in advance) or dynamic (continually changing in response to user input). Static hypertext can be used to cross-reference collections of data in documents, software applications, or books on CDs. A well-constructed system can also incorporate other user-interface conventions, such as menus and command lines. Hypertext can develop very complex and dynamic systems of linking and cross-referencing. The most famous implementation of hypertext is the World Wide Web , first deployed in 1992.


Early precursors to hypertext

Recorders of information have long looked for ways to categorize and compile it. Early on, experiments existed with various methods for arranging layers of annotations around a document. The most famous example of this is the Talmud. Other reference works (for example dictionaries, encyclopedias) also developed a precursor to hypertext: the setting of certain words in small capital letters, indicating that an entry existed for that term within the same reference work. Sometimes the term would be preceded by an indexlike this, or an arrowlike thisJanet Murrayhas referenced Jorge Luis Borges‘ “The Garden of Forking Paths” as a precursor to the hypertext novel and aesthetic. “The concept Borges described in ‘The Garden of Forking Paths’–in several layers of the story, but most directly in the combination book and maze of Ts’ui Pen–is that of a novel that can be read in multiple ways, a hypertext novel. Borges described this in 1941, prior to the invention (or at least the public disclosure) of the electromagnetic digital computer. Not only did he invent the hypertext novel–Borges went on to describe a theory of the universe based upon the structure of such a novel.” – Wardrip-Fruin and Montfort

Later, several scholars entered the scene who believed that humanity was drowning in information, causing foolish decisions and duplicating efforts among scientists. These scholars proposed or developed proto-hypertext systems predating electronic computer technology. For example, in the early 20th century, two visionaries attacked the cross-referencing problem through proposals based on labor-intensive, brute force methods.Paul Otlet proposed a proto-hypertext concept based on his monographic principle, in which all documents would be decomposed down to unique phrases stored on index cards. In the 1930s, H.G. Wells proposed the creation of a World Brain.

Michael Buckland summarized the very advanced pre-World War II development of microfilm based on rapid retrieval devices, specifically the microfilm based workstation proposed by Leonard Townsend in 1938 and the microfilm and photoelectronic based selector, patented by Emanuel Goldberg in 1931. Buckland concluded: “The pre-war information retrieval specialists of continental Europe, the ‘documentalists,’ largely disregarded by post-war information retrieval specialists, had ideas that were considerably more advanced than is now generally realized.” But, like the manual index card model, these microfilm devices provided rapid retrieval based on pre-coded indices and classification schemes published as part of the microfilm record without including the link model which distinguishes the modern concept of hypertext from content or category based information retrieval.

The invention of hypertext

Ted Nelson coined the words “hypertext” and “hypermedia” in 1965 and worked with Andries van Dam to develop the Hypertext Editing System in 1968 at Brown University. Engelbart had begun working on his NLS system in 1962 at Stanford Research Institute, although delays in obtaining funding, personnel, and equipment meant that its key features were not completed until 1968. In December of that year, Engelbart demonstrated a hypertext interface to the public for the first time, in what has come to be known as “The Mother of All Demos“.

Funding for NLS slowed after 1974. Influential work in the following decade included NoteCards at Xerox PARC and ZOG at Carnegie Mellon. ZOG started in 1972 as an artificial intelligence research project under the supervision of Allen Newell, and pioneered the “frame” or “card” model of hypertext. ZOG was deployed in 1982 on the U.S.S. Carl Vinson and later commercialized as Knowledge Management System. Two other influential hypertext projects from the early 1980s were Ben Shneiderman‘s The Interactive Encyclopedia System (TIES) at the University of Maryland (1983) and Intermedia at Brown University (1984).


The first hypermedia application was the Aspen Movie Map in 1977. In 1980, Tim Berners-Lee created ENQUIRE, an early hypertext database system somewhat like a wiki. The early 1980s also saw a number of experimental hypertext and hypermedia programs, many of whose features and terminology were later integrated into the Web. Guide was the first hypertext system for personal computers.

In August 1987, Apple Computer released HyperCard for the Macintosh line at the MacWorld convention. Its impact, combined with interest in Peter J. Brown’s GUIDE (marketed by OWL and released earlier that year) and Brown University’s Intermedia, led to broad interest in and enthusiasm for hypertext and new media. The first ACM Hypertext academic conference took place in November 1987, in Chapel Hill NC, where many other applications, including the hypertext literature writing software Storyspace were also demoed

Meanwhile Nelson, who had been working on and advocating his Xanadu system for over two decades, along with the commercial success of HyperCard, stirred Autodesk to invest in his revolutionary ideas. The project continued at Autodesk for four years, but no product was released.

Hypertext and the World Wide Web

In the late 1980s, Berners-Lee, then a scientist at CERN, invented the World Wide Web to meet the demand for automatic information-sharing among scientists working in different universities and institutes all over the world. In 1992, Lynx was born as an early Internet web browser. Its ability to provide hypertext links within documents that could reach into documents anywhere on the Internet began the creation of the web on the Internet.

Early in 1993, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois released the first version of their Mosaic web browser to supplement the two existing web browsers: one that ran only on NeXTSTEP and one that was only minimally user-friendly. Because it could display and link graphics as well as text, Mosaic quickly became the replacement for Lynx. Mosaic ran in the X Window System environment, which was then popular in the research community, and offered usable window-based interactions. It allowed images as well as text to anchor hypertext links. It also incorporated other protocols intended to coordinate information across the Internet, such asGopher.

After the release of web browsers for both the PC and Macintosh environments, traffic on the World Wide Web quickly exploded from only 500 known web servers in 1993 to over 10,000 in 1994. Thus, all earlier hypertext systems were overshadowed by the success of the web, even though it originally lacked many features of those earlier systems, such as an easy way to edit what you were reading, typed linksbacklinks,transclusion, and source tracking.

In 1995, Ward Cunningham made the first wiki available, making the web more hypertextual by adding easy editing, and (within a single wiki) backlinks and limited source tracking. It also added the innovation of making it possible to link to pages that did not yet exist. Wiki developers continue to implement novel features as well as those developed or imagined in the early explorations of hypertext but not included in the original web.

The Firefox Add-On Hyperwords which has been developed in cooperation with Doug Engelbart and Ted Nelsongives Web surfers the ability to issue many commands on any text on the web, not only pre-written links – a return to what users could do 40 years earlier with Doug Engelbart‘s NLS.


Besides the already mentioned Project XanaduHypertext Editing SystemNLSHyperCard, and World Wide Web, there are other noteworthy early implementations of hypertext, with different feature sets:

Retrieved from: Teoria Universitat de València Press- http://www.uv.es/fores/teoriauvp.html


01 Becker, Howard S. A New Art Form: Hypertext Fiction ( A )

“…Exploring the problems of ““old,” new,” and the conditions of artistic change requires a conception of what sustains an art form, a conception of an art world which I have analyzed at length elsewhere (Becker, 1986). Though people often speak of art worlds in a loose way, I mean the term in a technical sense, which encompasses the following ideas:

All art works involve the cooperation of everyone whose activity has anything to do with the end result. That includes the people who make materials, instruments, and tools; the people who create the financial arrangements that make the work possible; the people who see to distributing the works that are made; the people who produced the tradition of forms, genres, and styles the artist works with and against; and the audience. For symphonic music, the list of cooperating people might include composers, players, conductors, instrument makers and repairers, copyists, managers and fundraisers, designers of symphony halls, music publishers, booking agents, and audiences of various kinds. For contemporary painting, an equivalent list would include painters, makers and purveryors of canvases, paints, and similar materials, collectors, art historians, critics, curators, dealers, managers and agents, such auxiliary personnel as, say, lithographic printers, and so on.

Why make such a list? Because each of these cooperating links is a point at which the people making the art have to consider how to take into account how the person at the other end of the link will cooperate–what they will and won’t do, and on what terms–or suffer the consequences. They have, for instance, to think about what it will mean to paint a canvas of a size that will fit into a home comfortably as opposed to one that will only fit in a corporation headquarters or museum. Taking the anticipated reactions of others into account, artists can decide to tailor what they do to what others will likely do. They can decide to paint a canvas that is two by three meters because they know it will be easier to find a home for it than one ten by twenty. In the same way, a composer might decide to write a string quartet rather than something for two ocarinas and bassoon, in part because there are many more string quartets than two-ocarina and bassoon combinations. If artists decide not to do what others want, they pay another price. Instead of giving up some of their freedom to choose, they must give up time to do themselves what others might have done for them if they were more cooperative; train others to do it for them; or do without. In each case, the work shows the effects of their choice.

All the people who cooperate in making a work of art do that by using mutually understood conventions. All sorts of aspects of art works are governed by conventional understandings as to how they can be done. Some common examples are: musical scales, which are a conventional choice of just a few from all the tones available; the three act play; the sonnet; the history painting; and so on. Such questions as size and shape, length and appropriate subject matters are all decidable by reference to conventional understandings as to how things should be done. Conventional knowledge is what makes it possible for musicians who have never seen each other to play as though they had known each other for years. It is what makes it possible for knowledgeable viewers or listeners to respond to a painting or musical work. Because you know what ought conventionally to happen, you can be surprised by an innovation which would otherwise be meaningless. It meant nothing special to hear Bob Dylan play electric guitar unless you knew that he had always played acoustic guitar. Using conventions makes it easier for people to cooperate and get the work of art done. Changing or ignoring them makes it harder and lessens the possibility of getting others to cooperate.

An art world, to give a technical definition, consists of the network of cooperative activity involving all the people who contribute to the work of art coming off as it finally does, using the conventional understandings they share. Most work gets made in art worlds. Some does not, whether it is the innovative work of art-world mavericks (e.g., a Charles Ives or Conlon Nancarrow) or the naive work of a Simon Rodia (the maker of the Watts Towers), who never heard of such a thing as the art world and wouldn’t have cared much about it if he had.

As the conditions of an art world’s existence–who gets recruited to the various roles, what kinds of resources are available, what kinds of audiences there are for its works–change, its internal organization and characteristic products change as well. Published fiction, and the organized world that produced it, changed radically when eighteenth-century England developed a new class of literate servants and business people who could read such work and wanted to. The modern novel was born.

One implication of this analysis is that, if we remember that one of the cooperating parties in the production of any work of art is the audience, we can think of a work as coming into existence anew every time someone looks at it, reads it, or hears it. This reminds us, and gives us a way to think about, the fact that the physical object is in a real sense not the whole art work, which is always being reinterpreted. The interpreter helps to create the work’s character as a result.

Art works get their value from art worlds. I don’t mean that art works aren’t agreeable or instructive or edifying or enjoyable,, only that they don’t have these qualities in themselves, but rather as they are commonly interpreted to have them, in a world of like-thinking people. Great works are great to people who know enough to understand them for what they are, as David Hume suggested. And we must remember that art worlds often reinterpret works, finding some valuable that they had thought less so, and vice versa. The works haven’t changed, but their value has.

Perhaps the most controversial thing to be said here is that the quality of a work is not affected by the kind of system it is made in. Good work (generally so recognized) has been produced under every sort of system, including the most vulgarly commercial. Think of the Hollywood film. It is hard to imagine, given the conditions under which movies are made, that there are any good films at all, but we know that there are. Or consider the Victorian English novel, whose authors had to take into account what publishers insisted on if they wanted their works to see print. J.A. Sutherland (1976: 114-16) has shown, for instance, how Thackeray’s Henry Esmond got some of its finest qualities from the intrusion of George Smith, a literate and concerned publisher, who wouldn’t pay the author until he took more care than was his custom.

Perhaps the most important thing to be said is that the participants invest the whole apparatus with an aura of “rightness,” so that this way of producing art seems moral and other ways immoral. Using classical ballet steps is moral and proper, while using more ordinary motions like running, jumping, and falling down is somehow wrong, an insult, a disgrace–to people attached to the world of classical ballet. To adherents of the world of modern dance, of course, it is another story.

These ideas, quickly sketched, suggest what needs to be looked at in understanding the development of an innovative literary form like hypertext.


So questions about the development of hypertext fictions become questions about the development not just of an artistic form but also of the whole world of cooperative activity which makes that form possible. We can begin by asking where hypertext came from. Contemporary fiction has its roots in the long tradition of written fiction, culminating in the story and the novel as the chief contemporary forms. We need not go into that well-known history more than to emphasize that writers in the Western literary tradition have experimented constantly with form and content. Hardly a decade goes by without someone proclaiming that the novel is dead, because all the possibilities have been exploited and there is nothing left to do. But hardly a decade goes by without some substantial new development in format and subject matter being accepted by knowledgeable readers. Forms which barely make sense to conventional readers are absorbed easily by those who are more daring and in time become just as conventional.

Hypertext fictions have grown out of the full range of available styles. Some are more or less conventional novels (e.g., of university life, or of romance). Some–e.g., Stuart Moulthrop’s “Victory Garden” (1991)–are relatively realistic, using the possibilities of hypertext to make it easier to tell a complex story, crisscrossing narrative lines in complex patterns which result fromthe intersection of readers’ choices with constraints the author has created. Others–e.g., Michael Joyce’s “afternoon, a story” (1990)–are experimental, using the same possibilities to create poetic, even mysterious patterns of words, creating seemingly endless loops in which the reader can feel trapped, leaving the the narrative unresolved. Some make use of typographical tricks to hide words inside other words. The transformations of the literary heritage computer-based hypertext make possible have only begun to be explored.

Computer-based hypertext has a second set of ancestors in the world of computer technology. Machines, as Latour (1987. pp. 103-144) has persuasively argued, consist of combinations of humans and technology, in which each is adapted to the other so that the two can effectively act as one. These modes of collective action in wich the actors are both human and non-human, what Latour refers to as “lashups,” make new results possible, provided that the parties are in fact well adapted to one another. The hardware and software combinations which make up a computer allow for the production of texts which are not constrained by the physical requirements of a conventional book. (Keith Smith (1989) provides an analysis of the multiple, largely unused, possibilities of print books.)

Computer programmers, alert to what potential users want, quickly learned that some industrial users wanted to access large bodies of material in a cross-referenced form. These users wanted, for instance, to consult mountains of technical documentation–e.g., the millions of documents which constitute the technical specifications an aircraft manufacturer needs to make an airplane–by going from any document to any of the many other documents which might be relevant–by simply choosing from the possible alternatives on the computer screen rather than leafing through hundreds of pages, books, or files.

Others wanted, when they used a computer, to consult technical documentation in order to know what command to give to accomplish something they wanted to do. Computer manuals, daunting documents even for experienced users, require you to leave the computer and leaf through a large, complex, and confusing printed document. How much better to be able to press the appropriate combination of keys and have the relevant technical “Help” file, part of what is typically called an “on-line help system,” appear on your screen! To access such a help system requires software that lets authors make multiple links between texts, enabling users to follow cross references to whatever degree they find necessary or interesting.

Designers of such computer applications did not intend to help authors write avant-garde fiction. On the contrary. Had it been only the needs and desires of authors of fiction that drove this development, it might never have happened at all. So, until recently, writers of fiction had to adapt what had been constructed for these other purposes to their own uses.

The implementation of the idea most easily available to the average person was Apple Computer’s HyperCard, a program with which people could construct “stacks” of “cards.” Cards could be cross-referenced in such a way that clicking in a particular place on the screen would take you to another card, the destination depending on where you clicked.

Another ancestor is somewhat nearer to fiction. Ted Nelson, in the 1960s, saw hypertext as a tool which would make all information of every kind, in every form, available to everyone (or, at least, everyone who would pay to use the system) at the click of a mouse (Nelson 1977, 1982). Though Nelson did not create a practical implementation of the idea, it grabbed many imaginations. Many people saw possibilities for such a wonder. Scholars could use it to comment on texts, every piece, say, of a classical text being linked to multiple commentaries on it, the whole being readable in a variety of ways (read all of one commentary, then all of another; read all the commentaries on one passage before moving to another; read the whole text and then the commentaries). Some envisioned multiply authored texts linked in multiple ways, readers being able to follow the line of thought of one writer, if they liked, or all the material on a given point or the development of an argument or conversation if that was what they wanted. The idea of a “web,” rather than a book or file of such materials, appealed to scholars. And in some cases, such a web seemed the only practical way to present someone’s work, as in the case of the papers of Charles Sanders Pierce, the American philosopher who left thousands of scattered and unorganized pages, all having multiple connections and relevances within and across pages. In a sense, Nelson’s Xanadu has now been realized, to some extent, in the World Wide Web, which makes all sorts of materials available, often in a form in which readers’ comments can be incorporated into the text, to anyone with access to the Internet.

A final set of antecedents might be computer games, which combine primitive narratives combining fiction with puzzles and hidden dangers to create a world through which the player can wander, seeking some goal–a treasure, or simply to escape from a dangerous situation–through a series of forking paths. The literary quality of these works was usually low (they were, after all, written primarily for teenage boys, though boys of all ages often found them appealing) but they pioneered some conceptual advances.

New Resources and Organizations

Remember that the creation of art works depends on the development of a world that provides artists with what they need to make the works they make. “What they need” includes materials, ideas, traditions, workers, and so on. So the development of a world of hypertext fiction requires more than the idea and more than the development of some computer software. But it certainly requires that, to begin with. The story I’m about to tell suggests some of the stages of the process, but is so truncated as to resemble an origin myth as much as an historical account.

Creating hypertext is a formidable task for a computer programmer, and few serious writers of fiction have the necessary skills, or want to have them. But some authors of fiction, to close in on our topic, saw hypertext as a chance to do something they had dreamed of doing. Michael Joyce, author of “afternoon: a story,” often called the first computer-based hypertext fiction, has said that what he wanted was to create fictions that would not be the same for any two readers, fictions whose construction made it possible for each reader to see the texts that made it up in a different order and arrangement. When he first had this dream, he knew little about computers, and had no idea how such a dream could be realized. He had an Apple II computer, but no program with which to do what he wanted to do.

The creators of the Macintosh, some of whom had a taste for Nelson’s utopian vision, produced HyperCard. But some found HyperCard difficult to learn; in particular, itdid not make the linking of texts easy. Though it could create hypertext of just the kind Joyce and others were looking for, producing such a text required a substantial detour into a kind of computer programming that effectively discouraged most would-be authors of experimental fiction from making the leap.

A kindly foundation executive who shared the vision made it possible for Joyce to spend a year at Yale University, where someone said “You should get to know Jay Bolter, who was here last year; he has similarly crazy ideas.” Bolter (a classicist who is also well-versed in computer programming) and Joyce then spent a number of years creating Storyspace, a program which significantly lowered the technical barriers to writing hypertext fiction.

Storyspace, and here I necessarily fall into the proselytizing language of the computer addict, “allows” you to do the following: create pieces of text of any size, symbolized on the screen by a small box with a title; link those pieces of text by drawing a line between them; control the reader’s access to these texts by specifying that Text B, for instance, can only be read by those who have already read text A and have also chosen a particular word in Text A; make many links, if desired, from one text, so that the reader may return to the same material from many places, each reading being conditioned by the differing materials which have preceded it; make all these mechanisms as clear or as opaque as the author wishes.”

02 Deemer, Charles – What is Hypertext ( A )

“Hypertext is the form in which the dynamics of nonlinear writing came into focus and under control.”

Vannevar Bush: A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records and communications and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his. “

“Bush-a perfect description of the way a contemporary reader moves through hypertext: “… he builds a trail of his interest through the maze of materials available to him.” Hypertext is “linear” and “non-linear”. Any individual path through hypertext is linear(the reader is still reading or viewing or hearing items in sequence). What makes hypertext hypertext is not non-linearity but choice, the interaction of the reader to determine which of several or many paths through the available information is the one taken at a certain moment in time. Hypertext closely maps “real life”. I act out my daily life on a path built by moment-by-moment choices-and so does everyone else.”

“What do you want to read/hear next? Is the question that hypertext asks again and again. “

“Today the most realized application of hypertext is on the World Wide Web on the Internet. “

“HYPERTEXT: Is more than a text, which is more than one word after another, from beginning to end, with no variation allowed. Is like the nation’s system of highways and roads.

HYPERTEXT: A web of possibilities, of reading experiences, like life itself, full of choices and consequences, full of forks in the road.

HYPERTEXT: The language of exploration and discovery- is the perfect language to become the mother tongue of the Information Age.

03 Bloom, Harold – An Elegy for the Canon ( A )

Jakob Burckhardt” :The secular canon, with the word meaning a catalog of approved authors, does not actually begin until the middle of the eighteenth century, during the literary period of Sensibility, Sentimentality, and the Sublime.”

Dante invented our idea of the canonical”.

W.H.Auden: is bad for the character”

Oscar Wilde:All bad poetry is sincere.”

“Emerson: Opposed the party of Memory to the party of Hope, but that was in a very different America. Now the party of Memory is the party of Hope, though the Hope is diminished. But it has always been dangerous to in stitutionalize hope, and we no longer live in a society in which we will be allowed to institucionalize mamory. “

Longinus:That pleasure is what the resenters have forgotten.”

Freud: anxiety: Angst vor etwas, or anxious expectations. There is always something in advance of which we are anxious , if only of expectations that it needs to fulfill or it will cease to be read.”

Alastair Fowler: changes in literary taste can often be refered to revaluation of genres that the canonical works represent.”

Antonio Gramsci: (the hero of the anticanonizers) denies that any intellectual can be free of the dominant social group if he relies upon merely the “special qualification”.

School of Resentment: Aesthetic value emanates from class struggle. “

“The individual self is the only method  and the whole standard for apprehending aesthetic value. “

04 Kendall, Robert – The Birth of Electronic Literature ( A )

“…Most electronic pioneers are exploring the computer as a vehicle for malleable, nonlinear writing unlike anything from the world of print on paper. They use a technique called hypertext, which allows the reader to pursue various diverging and crisscrossing paths through a story or poem. The writer can link any section within a text to many other spots in the same work. A segment of writing can therefore lead to any of several alternative continuations or digressions rather than just the next page.

Here’s a typical example: In Stuart Moulthrop‘s hypertext novel Victory Garden (Eastgate Systems, 1991), the reader encounters Harley and Veronica flirting in a bar. Hitting the “Enter” key continues the story’s current thread, resuming the conversation between Harley and a friend as Veronica leaves. Alternatively, the reader can select among words that appear highlighted within the text, each leading onto a different narrative path. For instance, choose “another table” and the story follows Veronica as she goes to wait on another customer. Choose “Veronica” and the narrative digresses to a bedroom scene between her and Harley.

By this process of choosing which links to follow, readers determine the order–and therefore also the contexts–in which episodes of a story or poem appear. They assemble their own versions of a fictional world in much the same way that they piece together unique, personal versions of the real world from the fragments of their own experience. The text becomes a real environment that the reader can interact with and alter rather than just a description of one.

Writers like Michael Joyce inspired me to embark on my own hypertext expedition. I departed from the usual approach, however, using my background in computer programming to develop a dynamic hypertext technique that allows a reader to change not only the ordering of text sections but also the content of each in response to different situations…”

05 Bolter, Jay David – Degrees of freedom ( A )

“Hypertext: arbiytrary signs (iconic or motivated) / Virtual reality: symbolic (perceptual)”

“Ekphrasis: the first instance the description of a work of visual art. Set out to demonstrate the superiority of the rethorical art to painting or sculpture” . Example: MUD-accept the illusion of the natural sign, no oscillation between rethorical awareness and forgetfulness, to look through, destinated to become video experiences, will be multi-user, may be stories, not novels. “

Murray Krieger: desire for the natural sign”.

Derrida: logocentric desire metaphysics of presence”.

ASCII charaters: to form “emoticons”

Jaron Lanier: virtual reality can usher in an era of post-symbolic communication. Is the realm in which arbitrary sign can be eliminated.”

Annie Proulx: no one is going to read a novel in a twitchy little screen.”

“Skeptics: literature will continue to be printed”.

Anne Balsamo: virtual reality, new version of the filmic eye.”

Cartesian perspectivalism: ahistorical, desinterested disembodies subject claim to know the world by gazing ai it from afar.”

Descartes: to achieve real knowledge-realm of perception”./ Virtual reality: technology for turning Descartes upside down”.

(on the contrary): Katherine Hayles: embodied knowledge

Michael Novak: the mind is the property of the body.

Empathy: means of knowing-immediate, locale, concrete, culturally determined and narrative strategy.

Walser: virtual reality will change our conception of our bodies. “

Dennet: Brain is the harried editor working on a confused mass of content-discremination”.

“For postmodern writers knowledge is made, they need a notion of community: tentative, temporary and spontaneously.”

06 Burnett, Kathleen – Toward a Theory of Hypertextual Design ( A )

07 Johnson, Eric – The World Wide Web, Computers, and Teaching Literature ( A )

WORDS: count the number of running words in a text and the number of unique word forms-based on parameters for recognition of a word than the user can set.

MENDEN 2: computes and compare the lengts of words in 2 texts.

IDENT: (for shorter texts) calculates the porcentages of specific words, can lead to author identification.

DIALOG 20: computes the overall amounts of quotation.

BITZER: to index the words in a text by page number or by line number. To do indexing. Used  by attorneys.

INTER: keeps tracks of all occurrences of words in a text and then gives the intervals between successive occurrences of the same word.

BYCHAPT: indicates which chapters in a novel contain specific words.

WORDCELL: first divides a text into 66 cells or parts of equal size, and then it displays which words are found in each cell.

SL: to see if sentences in a text are relatively uniform in length or if they increase and decrease in any kind of pattern throughout a work.

FINDLIST: computes the percent of words on multiple lists that are found in multiple text files.

CONCORD: keeps track of the context of each word it is used in a text; its output presents each word within the line in which it is found.

SHAKWORD: to search for the exact locations of words in a specific play by Shakespeare on in his complete words.

ACTORS: processes a play’s text and it notes each character’s entrance or exit.  Produces a series of lists of the characters that are on stage at each moment.

JAFORMAT: converts the SGML encoded Austen texts by removing the tags and reformating the text as necessary to produce clean ASCII text.

JAWORDS: produces an index of the page and line location of selected words in the SGML texts.

JATALK: processes the codes in the SGML Austen text that indicate the name of each speaker and the program counts the number of words of direct and indirect dialogue of each speaker, and thus it shows exactly how much each character talks.

JADIALOG: processes the speaker condes in a manner similar to Jatalk, but rather than simply counting the words of dialogue of each character, it separates and writes into individual files for each speaker, thus making it available for analysis with other programs.

08 Joyce, Michael The Ends of Print Culture ( A )

09 McGann, Jerome – Comp[u/e]ting Editorial F[u/ea]tures ( A )

10 – Visible and Invisible Books: Hermetic Images in N-Dimensional Space ( A )

11 Moulthrop, Stuart – Hypertext and the Laws of Media ( A )

“…These questions must ultimately be addressed not in theory but in practice–which is where the significance of Nelson’s second Xanadu lies. With Xanadu, Nelson invalidates technological abjection, advancing an unabashedly millenarian vision of technological renaissance in which the system shall set us free. In its extensive ambitions Xanadu transcends the hyperreal. It is not an opium vision but something stranger still, a business plan for the development of what Barthes called “the social space of writing” (81), a practical attempt to reconfigure literate culture. Xanadu is the most ambitious project ever proposed for hypertext or “non-sequential writing” (Dream Machines 29; Literary Machines 5/2). Hypertext systems exploit the interactive potential of computers to reconstruct text not as a fixed series of symbols, but as a variable-access database in which any discursive unit may possess multiple vectors of association (see Conklin; Joyce; Slatin). A hypertext is a complex network of textual elements. It consists of units or “nodes,” which may be analogous to pages, paragraphs, sections, or volumes. Nodes are connected by “links,” which act like dynamic footnotes that automatically retrieve the material to which they refer. Because it is no longer book-bounded, hypertextual discourse may be modified at will as reader/writers forge new links within and among documents. Potentially this collectivity of linked text, which Nelson calls the “docuverse,” can expand without limit…”

12 Sterling, Bruce Global Algorithm 1.9: Unstable Networks ( A )

“…Science fiction writers say a lot of silly things, but H.G. Wells once said a very wise thing. “If anything is possible, then nothing is interesting.” It’s not the center of ideas that are interesting, these bloodless Platonic concepts of bogus purity and lifeless rigid order. It’s the living, seething mess out there, where actions have consequences, where the street finds its own uses for things. That is our arena. And it’s up to us, not just to imagine it, but to inhabit it. Not just to admire it and make gestures, but to judge it and take action…”

13 Birkerts, Sven – The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age ( A )

“…Yet the multimedia packages would master this gravity. For opacity they substitute transparency, promoting the illusion of access. All that has been said, known, and done will yield to the dance of the fingertips on the terminal keys. Space becomes hyperspace, and time, hypertime (“hyper-” being the fashionable new prefix that invokes the nonlinear and nonsequential “space” made possible by computer technologies). One gathers the data of otherness, but through a medium which seems to level the feelñthe truthñof that otherness. The field of knowledge is rendered as a lateral and synchronic enterprise susceptible to collage, not as a depth phenomenon. And if our media restructure our perceptions, as McLuhan and others have argued, then we may start producing generations who know a great deal of “information” about the past but who have no purchase on pastness itself.

“Hypertext” is not a system but a generic term, coined a quarter of a century ago by a computer populist named Ted Nelson to describe the writing done in the nonlinear or nonsequential space made possible by the computer. Moreover, unlike print text, hypertext provides multiple paths between text segments, now often called “lexias” in a borrowing from the pre-hypertextual but prescient Roland Barthes. With its webs of linked lexias, its networks of alternate routes (as opposed to print’s fixed unidirectional page-turning) hypertext presents a radically divergent technology, interactive and polyvocal, favoring a plurality of discourses over definitive utterance and freeing the reader from domination by the author. Hypertext reader and writer are said to become co-learners or co-writers, as it were, fellow travelers in the mapping and remapping of textual (and visual, kinetic, and aural) components, not all of which are provided by what used to be called the author.

Process. As a noun, “a series of actions, changes, or functions that bring about an end or result.” As a verb, “to put through the steps of a prescribed procedure.” Although the word is both noun and verb, in this context its verbal attributes are dominant. The difference between words on a page and words on a screen is the difference between product and process, noun and verb. The word processor is not, never mind what some writers say, “just a better typewriter.” It is a modification of the relation between the writer and the language.

The word processor can be seen as a kind of ice-breaker for that inchoate thing that is hypertextñwhich is, as Coover notes, a “generic” term for writing on a computer that avails itself of some of the capacities of that technology. Hypertext is more than just an end run around paper; it is a way of giving the screen, the computer software, and the modem a significant role in the writing process.

In some ways hypertext resembles the now-familiar word processor operation. Text does not visibly accumulate, but scrolls in from and back out to oblivion. Words do not lie fixed against the opaque page but float in the quasidimensional hyperspace. Not only can they be moved or altered at will, but any part of the text can theoretically mark the beginning of another narrative or expository path. The text can be programmed to accommodate branching departures or to incorporate visual elements and documents. The lone user can sculpt texts as she wishes, breaking up narratives, arranging lines in diverse patterns, or creating “windows” that allow readers to choose how much information or description they want. And on and on.

No less significantly, the hypertext writer need not work alone. The technology affords the option of interactive or collaborative writing. And this, even more than the fluidity or the candy-store array of choices offered by the medium, promises to change our ideas about reading and writing enormously in the years to come. Already users can create texts in all manner of collaborative waysñtrading lines, writing parallel texts that merge, moving independently created sets of characters in and out of communal fictional space. Coover described in his essay how he and his students established a “hypertext hotel,” a place where the writers were free to “check in, to open new rooms, new corridors, new intrigues, to unlink texts or create new links, to intrude upon or subvert the texts of others, to alter plot trajectories, manipulate time and space, to engage in dialogue through invented characters, then kill off one another’s characters or even sabotage the hotel’s plumbing…”

Negative opinion:

“…Consider the difference. Text A, old-style, composed by a single author on a typewriter, edited, typeset, published, distributed through bookstores, where it is purchased by the reader, who ingests it the old way, turning pages, front to back, assembling a structure of sense deemed to be the necessary structure because from among the myriad existing possibilities the author selected it. Now look at Text B, the hypertext product composed by one writer, or several, on a computer, using a software program that facilitates options. The work can be read in linear fashion (the missionary position of reading), but it is also open. That is, the reader can choose to follow any number of subnarrative paths, can call up photographic supplements to certain key descriptions, can select from among a number of different kinds of possible endings. What is it that we do with B? Do we still call it reading? Or would we do better to coin a new term, something like “texting” or “word-piloting”?

We do not know yet whether hypertext will ever be accepted by a mass readership as something more than a sophisticated Nintendo game played with language. It could be that, faced with the choice between univocal and polyvocal, linear and “open,” readers will opt for the more traditional package; that the reading act will remain rooted in the original giver-receiver premise because this offers readers something they want: a chance to subject the anarchic subjectivity to another’s disciplined imagination, a chance to be taken in unsuspected directions under the guidance of some singular sensibility.

I stare at the textual field on my friend’s screen and I am unpersuaded. Indeed, this glimpse of the futureñif it is the futureñhas me clinging all the more tightly to my books, the very idea of them. If I ever took them for granted, I do no longer. I now see each one as a portable enclosure, a place I can repair to to release the private, unsocialized, dreaming self. A book is solitude, privacy; it is a way of holding the self apart from the crush of the outer world. Hypertextñat least the spirit of hypertext, which I see as the spirit of the timesñpromises to deliver me from this, to free me from the “liberating domination” of the author. It promises to spring me from the univocal linearity which is precisely the constraint that fills me with a sense of possibility as I read my way across fixed acres of print…”

14 Unsworth, John – Electronic Scholarship ( A )

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