In preparing to write a paper for College English we are likely to read many essays, some of them from past College English issues. As we grow into composition, rhetoric, and computers and writing studies, we absorb specialized lanaguages, academic tropes, rhetorical strategies for citing sources, and a feel for what an academic essay is. By the time we near the completion of our advanced degrees, we cease to be the freshmen David Bartholomae described as "inventing the university." We instead become the university, inhabited by its forms and ways of knowing.
Writing in hypertext changes us, forces us to reconcile with what we have become. When writing a print essay we don't even have to think anymore of where to look for a model, inhabited as we are by the genres we've read, but if one wants to write a native hypertext for Kairos , where does one look?
Until we all manage to reach the proficieny of a Michael Joyce, Greg Ulmer, Carolyn Guyer, Nancy Kaplan, Stuart Moulthrop, Johndan Johnson-Eilola, Jay Bolter and a handful of others, we'll find ourselves frequently asking questions and making tentative decisions, of trying out different hypertextual shapes, of moving among models, of writing hypertext with a print paradigm until we grow enough in the form, and it grows in us, for it to feel natural, to be what we've come to call, borrowing from Moulthrop, "native hypertext." We will ask, what is a native hypertext? Something more than an essay with links? Can you describe its features? How should it be organized? Is there a limit to the length of a given page? The answers, at least for now, remain happily tentative. Asking the questions over and again is fun. The need to ask also destabilizes a bit the hierarchy that places editorial board members over authors; when all goes well, we are placed with them.
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