Disciplined Writing

The role of good writing is always important, but even more so in hypertext. In linear pieces, I find it easier to tolerate poor writing. Though how I define that will vary, for now let us leave it at I know it when I see it, or skim over it, culling what I need or think I need from the work. It's hard to skim over a hypertext. There are cues and navigational aides (very good ones in STORYSPACE), but using them takes time, time to learn the interface, time to figure out what is really at stake in the piece.

Most of us know the interface of linear text, and most of us can skim effectively. While this is not impossible to do in hypertext, it's harder to do. And as Kolb writes in his space titled "vice," bad writing feels more indulgent and insipid in hypertext which pretends to a greater stature (perhaps because once in the web of a hypertext, the reader is surrounded):

There is the danger that creating a hypertext web would be the functional equivalent of writing without self-discipline: publishing drafts and jottings, self-indulgently exfoliating ideas without taking any position. This would infect the philosophical work with well-known diseases: wandering commentary, endless qualifications, fruitless self-reflection, unnecessary contentiousness, the deadweight of meta-level upon meta-level. This could both stem from and result in intellectual laziness. It could also cater to an uncritical audience that wanted to be titillated by the passage of ideas, but not to be challenged in its beliefs or values.

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Address your comments to Nick Carbone at nickc@marlboro.edu