How have we hyped hypertext?

Making my way through Landow’s book (in no apparent order — I could say it’s an intentional writerly reading approach, but really it’s just confusion).

Just wanted to set up a post to keep some notes on the readings.

The assignments this week:

Lab: Mark up, by hand, a 500-word text using HTML and CSS HTML tutorial: ; CSS tutorial: ; Also check out, available through the library

I think I’ll mark my main takeaways author by author (for lack of a better system of assignation)

LANDOW (2006):

– hypertext in many ways reflects the convergence of computing and literary criticism

– active readership becomes “slash” fanfiction.

– linking incorporates reader-response into the original (whoa computers)


ok- despite my best intentions of reading in a haphazard line, I resort to historicist archeology of these ideas. My brain can’t seem to ignore contingencies, as much as I might like it to. (The anti-contingency model appeals to my concern about lacunae in my disciplinary grounding– and perhaps about transience in general).

“bogged down” by the extension of specialization? Sounds familiar, Dr. Bush.

I can’t decide if Bush’s concerns about the inability to make use of available records (due to quantity and inaccessibility) discourages me (because I always feel behind on my reading as a matter of life) or encourages me (because somehow the fits and starts of progress manage to make new things anyway).

Reading about the economics of viable progress reminds me that we are both living in the becoming and in the disintegrating. Progress is not unilateral.

I enjoy the combination of Compression and Consultation. It reminds me rather of deciding which books belong on the the top shelf in my bedroom. I want to take advantage of all the space I have (got to love New York apartments), but also want to be able to get at those books without unwieldy step ladders (which are necessary, but cumbersome in said New York apartments).

Switching page to page on this one article has me thinking about the form of languages. If we jettison the notion of pages and switch to some continuous plaintext that can be reconfigured to meet the dimensions of whatever viewing device is available, what is our point of reference? What unit lets us tell another person what portion we are talking about? (I’m now in the “one page” version of the article in order to keep myself reading — which I am not doing because I’ve broken off to type). All of this wondering where in a “text” we relate generates questions of underlying structures — and brings me back to the notion that all our attempts at record relate to a desire to replicate memory. If we organize our thoughts for others — with numbers, bullets, etc– we offer small markers for others to follow our chain of thoughts. The idea of links to countless extrapolations does mimic the process of memory, but it also complicates the way we relate to others. The disintegration of formatting– writing in markdown, for instance– dislocates thoughts from their place on pages and makes them more mutable. Does this dislocation interrupt the processes we are attempting? Does discussion, discourse, depend on organization? Or are we just relying on common searchability? Does the word become the way we align our arguments?

I love this quotation (from part 4 of Bush’s article):

“Some of them [machines to handle advanced mathematics for scientists] will be sufficiently bizarre to suit the most fastidious connoisseur of the present artifacts of civilization.”