Though I have briefly studied hypertext in other classes, I still mostly experience it in the context of things like Wikipedia or wikis for TV shows or movies that I want to learn more about. From my experience, I think hypertext is most useful when you are doing the kind of reading that Christian Vandendorpe terms “browsing” or “hunting” mode. He defines browsing mode as “readers only pick[ing] up what is of interest to them” (205) and hunting mode as “the reader [seeking] specific information” (205). This is when I personally find hypertext most useful, if I am looking for something specific or I am interested in learning more about a series of connected topics (such as, different characters of the same TV show or something like that).
I think hypertext changes the way we read because it interrupts the flow of whatever you are reading to take you in different directions. I really like the connection that Taj made to footnotes in a print work, because I think hypertext kind of works in the same way. I also tend to skip over footnotes or wait to read them until I have finished the work itself because I don’t like the interruption, and I feel the same way about hypertext sometimes. Often I will open links in another tab and wait to look at them until I have finished reading the page I am already on; I definitely agree with Emily that hypertext can potentially be distracting to readers because it encourages following pathways that lead away from the original work.
However, I think the ways that hypertext encourages readers to follow pathways to new information can be beneficial if it is used in a work that is meant to be read in this way. If a work is meant to be used for browsing or hunting for specific information, then it is less likely that the reader will be distracted from the point of the work or miss important information because they moved away from the original piece. For example, a wiki that I use a lot is the wiki for the rhythm game Love Live; I use it a lot because I look up specific aspects of the game if I get confused or have a question about the way something works. This wiki isn’t meant to be read ‘cover-to-cover,’ but instead for readers like me who are curious about the game or have specific questions. I do think hypertext is best suited to digital writing, and I can’t really imagine how you would pull it off effectively in print.
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Vandendorpe, Christian. “Reading on Screen: The New Media Sphere.” Companion to Digital Literary Studies, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1EZP8fDx4S_5gfAJ6L8Kv1f3jyAdKdqU_/view.