11: Stewardship and Organization: Hypertext as a Viably Flawed System

I’m intrigued by the idea of hypertext as an especially interactive and sometimes collaborative medium. I still find it puzzling though. I understand the premise and purpose, even though I don’t fully understand the concept and all of its intricacies. I’ve also done some reading on this topic for Dr. Robertson’s History of the Book course, and while my knowledge of the topic grows, my comprehension of it does not. Therefore, excuse any misunderstandings of the concept.

The literary canon of hypertext respects various examples as the pinnacle of hypertext media. Such examples, like Engelbart’s, were thought out and executed in a time where hypertext media was a concept that was difficult to achieve. I think low-tech/older versions of hypertext projects are the most fascinating and most complex.

The biggest change in affect hypertext has on the reader (as opposed to regular text) is the organization of it changing the linear reading experience. Instead of a text being read beginning to end, there are many jumping off points, and a reader can experience these within the text, and the text itself, in a seemingly infinite amount of orders, each of which provides a different experience and reading of the text. Everyone’s experience is singular and unique, which I think makes it a very beautiful and artistic form for a text, despite the limitations of technology and art.

I feel like it’s interesting to talk about digital stewardship in the vein of hypertext. As a rule, digital texts seem to have a shorter and more difficult existence than analog texts. Digital texts, especially those utilizing hyperlinks, require upkeep and maintenance in order to withstand the test of time and remain accessible as technology updates. Digital stewardship, I think, is especially important for projects such as these.


Word Count: 309

Works Cited

Barnet, Belinda and Tofts, Darren. “Too Dimensional: Literary and Technical Images of Potentiality in the History of Hypertext