Literature and the Internet
Three factors that determine electronic texts to the
experienced differently from the printed text.
• The internet is allowing us to be have greater access to
information, especially in the realm of literature.
• Readers are exposed to a greater number of literary works
at the touch of a few letters on the keyboard and a click of
the mouse. Not only that, the medium is changing, the text
format is changed.
• Writers are able to by-pass traditional printing avenues and
move into an area of self-publication
• Hypertext is more searchable online. That is, it becomes
easier to pinpoint desired avenues of research.
• Within a single document you can find what you are
looking for with greater ease and efficiency. This is the same
for a website or the general information on the web.
• Differs greatly from the public library, where the process is
often time-consuming and not as readily available as with
• A connecting of information and detail. Information
becomes layered as connecting avenues are directed.
• Related texts are instantly linked to the main idea, perhaps
forming a better rounded argument or point of view.
Enhancing meaning along the process. As opposed to the
written text which does not have such instantaneous access.
• Access to supplementary information is enabled with
greater ease through the use of links.
Enhancement rather than
• Brown is arguing that the rise of the electronic text is
more a ‘change of degree rather than in kind’. That is, the
rise of the internet and the electronic text may not
necessarily be a revolution but a ‘re-figuring’ of ways we
interact and consume text.
• What is changing is how we are receiving the
information. Through greater access and searchability of
an ever-widening range of literary texts we are still taking
relatively traditional approaches to the study of literature.
Interdisciplinary approaches to
‘Already some internet sites make available the kinds of
material necessary for interdisciplinary approaches to
literature that could once be only laboriously and
• Efficiency has become integral to the proper functioning of
the internet. And academics have been utilising this function
in order to serve their research needs. With the ease and
speed that the internet offers, research that would
traditionally take years in libraries with physical books, only
takes a comparatively shorter amount of time.
Non linear writing
Some key points about the development of hypertext and
• There is no one main text, no single point of reference when it
comes to research on the internet. It is a series of interweaving
ideas and information.
• Hypertext is directed by links, text that leads from one source
to another, no one path is ever the same.
• Links form ‘multiple relations to one another rather than
straight lines of fixed segments’, determining how the reader
interprets the information.
Refiguring the Text
• Hypertext is continuously updated and refreshed, Brown
terming this occurrence as the internet ‘forever purging itself
of it’s past’
• The internet and hypertext offers an extension to traditional
modes of thought and research patterns.
• Online ideas don’t exist alone, instead they can be
• There is no beginning and no end.
The Reader as the User
• As the process of how we gather information changes
through the use of the internet, the reader’s role
changes, rather than being the passive, we be come active
• ‘ As the authority of the text diminishes, the power of the
• We create our own paths online. Brown stating,
‘ As the reader navigates hypertext,…he makes decisions
about where to go…he creates his own text, not only
accepting and rejecting, but shaping’
Refiguring the World
• Differing ideas about national boundaries and global
• A form of cultural globalisation, modern day colonialism? The
web is pre-dominantly populated with western-centric content.
• It brings forth question about the commercial nature of the
internet. Who has access.
• But with the ease of supposed ‘self-publishing’ online, there is
the opportunity for marginalised voices to be heard, given they
can afford to connect to the web.