:: urbansheep (urbansheep) wrote,
:: urbansheep

[ L ] Что такое гипертекст (virtualwriter)

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Before getting to Sunshine '69, I'd better backtrack a bit, and talk about why a novel written on (and for) the Web is interesting at all. Isn't the Web full of novels that can't get published elsewhere? Why would anyone want to read a novel that contained hypertext links? Shouldn't a story just begin at the beginning, and end at the end?

In the 1940s, hypertext was the imaginary machine of Vannevar Bush, who conceived of the memex as an ideal system for information storage and retrieval, something like a huge Rolodex, in his Atlantic Monthly article " As We May Think." In the 1960s, hypertext was the result of an imaginary machine of Ted Nelson, who imagined a computer system for producing hypertext as "non-sequential writing - text that branches and allows choices to the reader, best read at an interactive screen…a series of text chunks connected by pathways," as he explained in Literary Machines. In the 1980s, hypertexts were first published on floppy disks by visionary publishers. Michael Joyce's afternoon, a story was published by Eastgate Systems in 1987, to be followed by Stuart Moulthrop's Victory Garden, John McDaid's Uncle Buddy's Phantom Funhouse, Sarah Smith's King of Space, and many others from the same publisher. By the mid-1990s, hypertext was a bona fide academic subject. Astute critics and writers like George Landow and Robert Coover, quick to recognize the potential of this technology, formed what might be called the vanguard of a new art form.

Practically speaking, hypertext is a way of ordering and arranging chunks of information. A variety of software programs are available for this purpose, including Eastgate's Storyspace, Macromedia's Flash, and a host of Web-authoring tools. (You can also do it with a stack of index cards and some tape, but the result might prove difficult to distribute.) But, technology aside, what is most interesting about these textual experiments is that, by breaking pages of text into chunks and using links to recombine the chunks, hypertext, as both a real technology and an imaginary possibility, expands our usual notions of textual organization (e.g. "narrative" or "argument") to include stories with multiple pathways and endings, and arguments with a non-linear or digressive structure.

Although hypertext refers only to textual information, the fact that any kind of media - images, sounds, video - may be digitized, chunked, and linked, requires the introduction of another new term: hypermedia. Both hypertext and hypermedia add value to the chunks they incorporate, for link structures are more than ornaments or substitutes for other kinds of transitions. Linking styles and link structures generate meaning in themselves. That is, the "hyper" part of "hypertext" and "hypermedia" is not just hype, for it refers to a way of creating substantive connections between chunks of information.

Like early cinematography, hypertext is a complex art form with an emerging set of rules and conventions. These conventions are so new they defy most attempts to exhaustively describe them, but by now it seems evident that the rules have something to do with conventions also present in other media, including techniques derived not only from writing but also from film, music and visual art (including, for instance, montage and juxtaposition). The most influential critiques of hypertext and new media are disappointing insofar as they lack sustained involvement with the very works they wish to critique.


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