The Question | Two Paths | Remediation | Recommendations | Works Cited

From Linear Text to Hypertext:
A Cyber Odyssey Worth Taking?

- Billie Jones, Penn State Capital College

The Question
Composing for the Web presents writers with unique opportunities and constraints. Consequently, many writing instructors, in stand-alone hypertextual writing courses or as part of more traditional composition courses, are preparing their students in and for this webbed environment by examining the “new” discourse (and non-discourse) conventions of writing for the Web. Thinking about these new conventions, while proposing a rhetorically-based, hypertextual writing course to be added to our upper-level English curriculum, left me wondering about the “old ways”: What happened to them? Are they truly obsolete? And beyond that, what’s the best way to move students from the “old” way of writing—flat-spaced, print-based linear text—to this new way of writing—interactive, screen-based hypertext? This question led me to ask: is translating a text from linear format to hypertext desirable? Or even possible? Or are our students better served by learning to write pristine hypertexts, free from their linear ancestors.

There are clearly two paths to hypertext.