What does Hypertext Refashion?

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Bolter (12, 13) says that the electronic writing space has "refashioned" the writing space of print. He states that the "continuous flow of words and pages in a book" has been replaced by "abrupt changes of direction and tempo" in electronic space. He also states that we have 'conceived electronic writing space as located in the space of a printed book'. That is to say, we use the printed page as a metaphor for interpreting electronic writing space.

With that in mind, what does hypertext refashion?

Wikipedia defines hypertext as "text displayed on...an electronic device with references (hyperlinks) to other texts, that the reader can immediately access..."(Wikipedia, 2010)

From an academic point of view, hypertext "refashions" in-text citations and references of sources cited by a particular written, scholarly work (Bolter 28). For instance, when one blogger quotes/paraphrases another blogger, and then links or "hypertexts" the citation.

Of course, hypertext has been used in several other ways. Another example includes websites that contain a table of contents (T.O.C) at the top of the page, or even a navigation bar (which functions as a sort of T.O.C.). Overall, hypertext appears to replace the physical/mental activity required for such things as turning the pages to get to a specific section in a printed work, or having to look up (or even googling) certain cited works. In addition, the convenience of "hypertexting" sources actually encourages the looking up of cited sources. All of this just goes to show that electronic space has been fashioned after the printed space, as Bolter seems to claim.

1 Comment

Hi Rajeev,

You make a great point about hypertext in terms of its speed and convenience. Yes, hypertext is both of those things. I agree with the comparison you made about hypertext and footnotes (see also Bolter's comment about that on pg. xiv of the preface). Your comment about hypertext replacing the physical/mental activity of reading is quite interesting. Keep thinking about that as we move forward to topics of reading on the web.

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