Hypertext originated in print (with Vannevar Bush’s Memex), even though it is usually associated with online media. This method of “linking” sources is certainly much faster in application on the internet. Authors can provide resources for their audience to seek additional information (from recommended media) without having to explicitly explain the context of every outside source they reference. The most interesting use I’ve come across for hypertext is in digital poetry. In Small Press last semester, my class received a submission of a poem that included a lot of references that we did not anticipate the average college student would understand. The submission made it to our final round of considerations, and someone presented the idea of the author adding hypertextual elements so that it could be published online. The author elected not to use this suggested but I still think the idea had a lot of potential for exciting readers. Belinda Barnett and Darren Tofts also reference the potential of hypertext as a technological advancement. Poetry is an ideal genre for hypertext because poems often include allusions to current events, previous works, and historical contexts.
One potential downside of hypertext is that linked text will distract readers. Because hypertext is not noticeably ‘hyper’ unless it is indicated visually (usually with blue underlined text,) authors do not have many options for the formatting of hypertext. This tempts audiences to follow links and dive into potential black holes of information before fully viewing the content. In some cases, gathering context information is necessary for fully appreciating the content, however, in cases where it is not, hypertext may lead readers too far astray from the content. Vivian also discusses this in her post, taking the stance that this might not necessarily be a bad thing, but adds new layers of meaning to content. Authors have to decide whether or not this is something they want to risk introducing to their content, as they will not have control over their audiences’ attention span.
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?