12: Hypertext

I never used to think much about hypertext. But then I started to produce digital media, causing me to realize the importance of hypertext. Hypertext has the “ability to link seamlessly billions of pages as if they were a single entity, a constantly evolving book.” It changes the way someone reads, enhancing the whole experience. In “Reading on Screen: The New Media Sphere” Christian Vandendorpe discusses the three modes of reading: grazing (continuous reading), browsing (readers only absorb what they find appealing), and hunting (readers look for particular information). Hypertext changes the reading experience for all three of these. While a reader is “grazing” they may find the hyperlinked content distracting or annoying because their reading process would be interrupted. Hypertext makes “browsing” a bit easier since a reader can click on the hypertext to find more information on what they’re particularly interested in. When “hunting”, a reader will most likely find hypertext helpful because of its ability to link pages, allowing the reader to find the information they seek.

In my opinion, hypertext is solely a component of digital writing. I don’t see how hypertext could exist with its same abilities in any other form. Printing out hypertexted material would complicate the reading experience and defeat its “ability to link billions of pages as if they were a single entity.”

I think the most interesting idea I found pertaining to hypertext would be hypertext fiction. The idea of a hyperbook sounds interesting and challenges the traditional book, but I’m not sure I’d enjoy it. When I read fiction I like no interruption in my reading experience (I graze), so a hyperbook sounds annoying. A nonlinear reading experience when it comes to fiction sounds good in theory, but to me, it would be distracting. However, the interactivity aspect of hypertext fiction is the more interesting side of the idea. The ability to make a work of fiction interactive adds a characteristic that wouldn’t be available in printed form.