WHAT THE GEEKS KNOW
Hypertext and the Problem of
What is hypertext?
“merely a direct connection from one position in a text to another” (Aarseth, 1994)
“In hypertext … the reader determines the unfolding of the text
by clicking on certain areas, the so-called hyperlinks, that bring to
the screen other segments of text” (Ryan, 2001)
First use of the word
February 3, 1965Ted Nelson
"Professor Nelson Talk Analyzes P.R.I.D.E."
invention of Nelson
“He introduced the concept of the hyper-text, which would be a more
flexible, more generalized, non-linear presentation of material on
a particular subject.
The educational possibilities in the use of the hyper-text are vast. For
example, it is possible that basic texts on a subject could be
interindexed, so that the necessity and difficulty of tracing
footnotes and rare sources would be eliminated. In this way the
problems of information retrieval because of widespread writing today
would be alleviated, making decisions in many fields easier.”
Development of the concept
Ted Nelson demonstrates Xanadu Space
Later, Ted Nelson returned to his original ideas and developed a software Xanadu.
Improving paper, rather than immitating it.
3D virtual space to represent hypertext
Hypertext as a system
Navigation through large volumes of
documents and data
Connecting separate documents or objects
together in meaningful ways
information to build associations,
and through associations to build
(Schraefel et al., 2001)
Hypertext is much closer
to human associative
thinking than traditional
Waves in history of hypertext
1. Hypertext as a
2. Hypertext as an
3. Hypertext as an
The third wave
Not only text-to-text
but any type of multimedia object
can be connected to any other
All information is
Real-world objects have been
‘hypertextualized’ as well
Physical object can contain a hyperlink now (QR code)
Physical world connected to virtual
Floor plan diagram
Floor plans showing both plate system and
hypernodal system integration
Grand Egyptian Museum hypertextual organisation of objects
a number of thematic paths
“Each alternative circulation
sequence within the same space
creates new associations and
deepens the understanding and
knowledge of the visitor to the
The beauty of an hypertextual system
is that its very non-linearness
allows and even demands these
multiple passes. Context and
direction are what are important, it is
in there that information is held.”
“collections of scholarly texts and the catalogues and the reference
works giving access to them” (Dalgaard,2001)
Other types of archives
Think of other
Reading at risk?
“Reading”, according to NEA, is applicable
ONLY to printed linear documents
DEFINITELY NOT READING
Today, we consume more information than ever before, but if it is
not seen as reading, then:
What is reading?
What is educational reading?
Is it limited to a certain form or
What is knowledge?
What is literacy?
Think of digital archives you have listed in the previous exercise.
1. Which of them contain knowledge?
2. Where is the line between archives that
increase literacy/contribute to personal
knowledge, and those that do not?
For example, think about:
• Wikipedia and Absurdopedia
• Government site and twitter
• Web forum and ‘informal’ areas of the forum
• E-library or classical literature and a sire of amateur-produced fiction
• Original amateur fiction and fanfiction
Old definition of literacy is outdated
We read different types of texts
We read text with different media
We read texts differently
We prefer to surf through web instead of reading from cover to cover
“Storyspace is a hypertext writing environment, especially well
suited to creating large, complex, and challenging hypertexts.”
Xanadu Space project
Presents Twitter conversations as an interconnected archive
• Aarseth, E.J. “Nonlinearity and Literary Theory.” Hyper/text/theory (1994): 51–86. Print.
• Bush, V. “As We May Think.” (1945): n. pag. Print.
• Carr, L., D. De Roure, and W. Hall . “You've Got Hypertext.” Journal of Digital Information
(JoDI) 5.1.253 (2004): n. pag. Print.
• Dalgaard, Rune. “Hypertext and the Scholarly Archive: Intertexts, Paratexts and Metatexts
at Work.” (2001): 175–184. Web. Proceedings of the 12th ACM Conference on Hypertext
• Moulthrop, S. “What the Geeks Know: Hypertext and the Problem of Literacy.” Proceedings
of the sixteenth ACM conference on Hypertext and hypermedia (2005): 227–231. Print.
• Nelson, T. “Lost in Hyperspace.” NEW SCIENTIST 191.2561 (2006): 26–26. Print.
• Nelson, T.H., R.A. Smith, and M. Mallicoat. “Back to the Future: Hypertext the Way It Used
to Be.” Proceedings of the eighteenth conference on Hypertext and hypermedia (2007):
• Ryan, M.L. “Narrative as Virtual Reality.” (2001): n. pag. Print.
• Wardrip-Fruin, N. “What Hypertext Is.” Proceedings of the fifteenth ACM conference on
Hypertext and hypermedia (2004): 126–127. Print.
• “Hypermedia/Multimedia.” “Hypermedia/Multimedia.” cs.sfu.ca. Web. 17 May 2012.
• “Institute for the Future of the Book.” “Institute for the Future of the Book.”
futureofthebook.org. Web. 18 May 2012.