Presentation Abstract

Disciplining Vision/Re-Envisioning of Disciplines: Liberated Hypertextual Spaces?

My past theoretical work on hypertext (Rosenberg 1992; 1994; Killingsworth and Rosenberg 1995) has focused on how tenable were the claims being made for its interface. By providing an epistemological critique of these claims for artistic and pedagogical liberation, my tactic was to make visible its relentless geometrically, while situating those claims against the 20thC avant-garde assault on geometry's domination of human awareness, exemplified by the work of Henri Poincare and Henri Bergson--often cited as seminal figures in the history of complexity theory in physics and cognitive science.

By reference to his critique, thought, and even systems of thought represented by different academic disciplines, can be modeled in hypertext by reference to various forms of geometry symptomatic of what I call the arboreal formation. Any representation of disciplinary thought must necessarily reflect self-consciously the arboreal nature of disciplinary thinking, not only in the represenation of relationships among bits of information, but in the procedures for coming to know those bits of information as well.

Yet the relentless geometricality of hypertext becomes undermined by two features which deserve greate attention: the aleatory nature of individual icons in increasingly complex webs of highly contingent and manipulable textual and graphic interfaces with a bewildering array of possible trajectories. The task for the design and documentation of sophisticated programs with a large set of icons or aleatory points through which contingent user-trajectories may be drawn is to fully conceptualize the logic governing relations among these aleatory points.

When these logics are intelligible, then the forms of thought and the procedures for thinking modeled in hypertext will be as well; when they are not, the contingency, unpredictability and multidirectionality are the features. but if we are to explore hypertext as a medium for exploring truly interdisciplinary thinking, then maybe we should be emphasizing the experimental construction of precisely these contingent, perpetually bifurcating realms as a privileged space within which students might find their own mazy ways to new solutions to problems formerly housed in old walled cities. The follwoing presentation asks what these interdisiciplinary hypertextual realms may look like, as they become possible in a netherworld between already existing hypertextual models of academic disciplines.

Author: Martin E. Rosenberg


Target Audience: Advanced

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