This article text provides an opportunity for me to pause, to reflect on a large-scale Web hypertext in ways that aren't possible during the throes of its development. Here I articulate in more traditional expository prose Web building as it illuminates areas of literary theory and in terms of cognition and hypertext design.
But this article also provides a chance to move forward in the design of Web-based hypertexts. The text reiterates features of its subject in its own design and incorporates some new ones. One of the features carried over from WORP is the ability to annotate the project text. Throughout this article readers have opportunities to participate by embedding commentary or links to external Web sites into the text. Presenting the text as an open surface taps into the constructive potential to blur distinctions between authors and readers that has been argued for hypertext.
Still, issues of constructive textuality and authority are complex and facilitating interaction on the Web complicates texts in terms of access and compatibility. You are reading the opening page of the archived version of this text. In this version, no gestures toward interactivity are made. Further, to participate in the active version as an author, you'll need a certain kind of browser and you'll have to learn the annotation process and decide when and how to interact responsibly. None of the complexities of access, ownership, responsibility and compatibility are explicated in this text, though they are present in the design itself and I feature them here for discussion.
In short, then, the issues related to designing and implementing Web-based
hypertexts continue to multiply. Even now, as I have tried to sit on a project
and tease out the implications of its design features, new strands emerge and
take thought in additional directions. I've explained some and left more to be
discovered in the hope that the dual presence of the issues reflected in prose
and enacted in design adumbrates a larger concern about our current cultural and institutional moment.