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What the geeks know


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What the geeks know

  1. 1. What the Geeks Know: Hypertext and the Problem of Literacy Jianwei Zhang
  2. 2. Stuart Moulthrop •  an innovator of electronic literature and hypertext fiction, both as a theoretician and as a writer. •  a Professor of Information Arts and Technologies at the University of Baltimore. •  a founding board member of the Electronic Literature Organization in 1999.
  3. 3. Hypertext –  Hypertext is text, displayed on a computer, with references (hyperlinks) to other text that the reader can immediately access, usually by a mouse click or keypress sequence. –  The most extensive example of hypertext today is the World Wide Web. ( Hypertext)
  4. 4. Hypertext -  Nodes +Link -  >Network (
  5. 5. Normal Text vs. Hypertext (
  6. 6. Catching waves •  Three waves in the history of hypertext: 1. concept + first experimental systems 2. personal computers +Internet widely distributed systems +first examination of their implications 3. World Wide Web refinement of existing technologies
  7. 7. Catching waves •  Hypertext as reality, not novelty (3rd wave) –  archive:“ a communication environment in which virtually all texts are exposed to automated search, retrieval and hypertext reference” (Dalgaard 2001) –  archive refers to any application of hypertext
  8. 8. Catching waves –  Earlier accounts of hypertext: “remediation” (Dalgaard 2001) –  since the difference between hypertext and print culture there is the need to re-examine earlier positions –  the ‘archive’ and digital media in general have yet to establish legitimacy
  9. 9. Misreading Reading –  The World Wide Web expands all over the world and we live with hypertext in our everyday life –  According to an American (NEA) report called “Reading at Risk”: reading of leisure literature is on decline in another half century nobody will pay for fiction and poetry, except textbooks
  10. 10. Misreading Reading –  This report confines reading solely on printed books –  reading in context of the electronic archive, like Weblogs, Wikis or even Audiobooks are not incorporated at all in this study –  Electronic media is only seen as a threat to conventional print publishing –  demonstrates the ignorance towards digital technologies, as well as the problem to see the electronic archive as a possibility for literacy to evolve continuously
  11. 11. What the Geeks Know –  encounters between old and new media are inherently adversarial and never assured of balanced resolution innovation in communication seems to be problematic
  12. 12. What the Geeks Know –  Epistemology (theory of knowledge) of electronic text vs conventional writing –  According to Miles “hypertext” belongs not to an economy of scarcity but to a mode of excess”. –  The archive doesn’t know sufficiency, only surfeit. –  > With uncountable documents instantly available, there is an overload of information on the world wide web –  > attention must be elective
  13. 13. Literacy in Babylon –  Moulthrop brings up the connection to Borges and his story “The Lottery in Babylon”, published in 1941. –  a fictional society in ancient Babylon which reorganizes its epistemology around a municipal numbers game –  perhaps God does not play at dice with the universe, perhaps God is the dice.
  14. 14. Literacy in Babylon –  Moulthrop argues that literacy can no longer be ceded to print culture alone –  a new definition of literacy founded on pathwork in the hypertextual archive –  to take up the challenge of reinventing literacy for a world increasingly afflicted by ignorance –  he concedes that such a change in agenda will not automatically fix the widespread misunderstanding of media –  but he is confident that those ideas will tend to exceed initial expectations
  15. 15. •  What is the new literacy we need in digital context? • v=_XqRR5WJ85k
  16. 16. Reference • • • • notes/Chap1/Chap1.html •  Nielsen,J., (1995).Multimedia and Hypertext: The Internet and Beyond.
  17. 17. Thank you