Hypertextual Allowances: Development of Argument Structures

Because traditional research-based arguments rely on a sequential form dictating the order in which parts of an argument should be organized, the use of the hypertext form to advance a persuasive line of thought may seem contradictory. However, several scholars including J. David Bolter (1991), David Kolb (1994), Locke Mitchell Carter (1997), Bruce Ingraham (2000), and Tom Formaro (1996), among others agree that the hypertext form supports the development of argument structures that do not rely as much on sequential order. Although the order in which the reader will approach a web-based argument is not within the writer’s control, writers can employ some hypertextual strategies of argumentation that may visually guide the reader through the main parts of the argument, including prominent placement of nodes that advance key aspects of the argument as well as adjacent placement of nodes that would generate a greater rhetorical effect if read together in order (Carter, 1997). Through the creation of this form of “visually-suggested order,” the structure becomes a substitute for those parts of traditional print texts that cue transition and orientation within the form of the argument (p.169).