Intertextuality

Through Google’s blog search for “hypertext theory,” I found this post by A White Bear on the subject. First of all, this person got together with other grad students in his/her master’s program to discuss HT. Why is no one in Bozeman interested in this enough to get together in our spare time and talk about theory? Okay, that’s just a personal beef.

The main reason I point to this article is because it follows, in some ways, some of the idea I believe in. The author thinks of the Internet as a site, not of free play, but of limited play. The experience a reader of the Internet has is always mediated, through browsers and Googles and Web designers.

The author also compares the Internet to print in the sense that you can jump from one text to another — the Web just provides an infinitely faster jump. On this point, I must disagree. In the post, the author compares reading the Web to reading a book. With a book, you can quit reading and go on to read other things like cereal boxes and dictionaries. True, you can do that with the Internet as well, but here’s the key difference: the book that you read does have a linear order that the author asked you to follow (whether you follow or not is a choice). There is an order to follow for the book to make sense as the author intended it.

The Internet has no such order. Rather than providing a linear plot or logic, the authors of the Web provide a set of choices to the reader. The reader then has the choice of whether to utilize those options or not. There is no central text or plot. That is key. That is damn-near Derridean! In fact, I will argue that it is precisely the kind of thing Derrida was talking about when he wrote on language and presence. The plot of the Internet, the logical order of the Internet, is always deferred. We believe that at some point and on some level it will one day make sense, but we can never get to that point because a) the Internet is not present in any sense of the word and b) the Internet is constantly expanding in all directions. Every point is as much a center as any other point.

Perhaps this is rambling, but I don’t have time to polish this. More to come.

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