What's Next for Writing About Hypertext
In the follow-up discussion we decide that we need to keep in mind these two aspects of hypertext--the conceptual and the contemporary practice. To answer the other questions, we need to become more and more involved with the aspects of contemporary uses of hypertext. While we do not entirely leave behind the theoretical aspects, we focus our attention on how hypertext works in its current forms. At this moment, I ask students to come up with questions that would allow us to explore this issue of the use or practice of hypertext. Some of the questions they're generated are:
Dividing into our writing groups, we discuss and write up answers to the students' questions; we also revisit questions two and three on What is hypertext good for? and Who is hypertext good for? I provide students with other essays Mireille Rosello's The Screener's Map and excerpts from Wolfgang Iser's The Act of Reading. We then discuss hypertext in terms of (a) non-linear thinking and (b) the ways in which hypertext blurs the distinctions between readers and writers. These are difficult essays and we have to work through them carefully, summarizing, writing responses, and generating our own ideas about these categories.
Although not part of class discussion, another question worth asking about hypertext is: Does hypertext mirror human thought or is thought inherently more linear (i.e., temporal)? In many ways, we skated around this issue as a class. I hope to return to it either this semester or next depending on the directions the classes take while we work on issues of location, urban literarcies, and hypertext representations of places/times/histories.