Of Two Minds Review -- Siren Shapes: Exploratory and Constructive Hypertexts

Exploratory and Constructive Hypertexts

Joyce points out here that hypertext is an example of a cardinal technology--a tool that changes the nature of a traditional task. Hypertext is such a different tool that one needs to spend a considerable amount of time working with hypertext environments before the features of this tool become truly useful and task changing. Joyce talks about the adaptability of some hypertext software making it easy to "redistribute the command lines of the worst kinds of supposedly interactive, 'drills and skills,' CAI software into gaily embossed buttons and peekaboo card fields" (40).

As the title for this essay suggests, Joyce discusses what he terms as exploratory and constructive hypertexts being the way around this practice and calls for the development of both. But he cautions us against bringing the same old stuff to hypertext environments,

"Transformation of knowledge, I would suggest, is the litmus test we should use in judging both exploratory and constructive hypertexts. It is a critical test in judging whether courseware authored with hypertext tools engages learners in looking at material in new ways or merely looks like a new way of learning... Understanding, plotting, navigating and recreating knowledge structures is the essence of learning" (43).

This suggests, much like McLuhan, that the hypertext medium should necessarily change the way that we operate. I am left to wonder whether this book review, or this journal, transforms knowledge by Joyce's definition. I can say, that for me as an author, it has changed the way I go about writing a review, and I suspect that this journal engages learners in looking at some of this material in new ways.