When I think of hypertext, one of the first websites I think about is Wikipedia. Every time I visit the site, I find myself following an endless stream of hypertext links. When you look at almost any Wikipedia page, you’ll see numerous segments of text highlighted in blue, leading you to another wiki with information on that subject. It’s like falling down a rabbit hole. As it states in Too Dimensional: Literary and Technical Images of Potentiality in the History of Hypertext, “connecting information by linking two units together, anticipating hyper-text paths” (Barnet & Tofts). This is basically the experience I was describing when looking for information on Wikipedia. After reading this, I thought more about how I read text that include hypertext. I do believe that hypertext changes the way in which we read, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Besides wikis, other text that I immerse myself in do not always have hypertext, but I wish they did. I know I can’t be the only person who comes across a word or a phrase and doesn’t understand it. Then, I have to stop, google it, or pull out a dictionary. So, I supposed what hypertext does is get us to read more than one text at a time to better help us understand the original. Like Sarah mentioned in her blog post, this can be very beneficial when conducting research for a paper or project. Readers will be better able to understand and get a deeper insight on the topic they are studying because the hypertext will lead them to more information and connected ideas. However, there are some drawbacks in my opinion. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s kind of like falling down a rabbit hole. You click on one link, then another, then another, and you forget what you were originally looking at in the first place. You’ve been sucked into an unexpected vortex of information that no longer pertain to your initial intentions.
Basically, what I’m trying to describe is that, “the collective record is expanding, information is getting more complex, and we are not equipped to manage the mess” (Barnet & Tofts). The ancestor of hypertext I would probably say would be the little footnotes within books and textbooks. I honestly feel less compelled to look at footnotes than I do to click on hypertext. Footnotes are located at the bottom of the page for the most part, but accessing hypertexts is just a click away and I’m there with the information in my face. I guess I’m not confused about hypertext and it’s need in the digital publishing world, but I do find it more distracting and less helpful at moments.
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Barnet, Belinda, and Darren Tofts, “Too Dimensional: Literary and Technical Images of Potentiality in the History of Hypertext.” A Companion to Digital Literary Studies, www.digitalhumanities.org/companion/view?docId=blackwell/9781405148641/9781405148641.xml&chunk.id=ss1-5-9&toc.depth=1&toc.id=ss1-5-9&brand=9781405148641_brand.