Hypertext, Books and Death

Every fire needs a little kindling. Photo: Alienratt

Today’s symposium yielded a number of very relevant and intriguing discussion points. Elliot, Brian and Adrian provided some concrete knowledge from different perspectives regarding the nature of hypertext in itself. Brian’s point on hypertext not being a new “idea” but simply making used of pre-existing technologies, I felt, was an essential component of putting hypertext into context alongside the relevant theory we have explored in this subject and others. It is also important to note that hypertext interacts with different media mediums differently, and different forms work more effectively with different modes and mediums than others. I found Adrian’s link to Wolfgang Ernst’s idea of hypertext being more relative to music than print media to be an interesting perspective that helped to understand the very essence of hypertext and it’s relation to other media formats.

Jasmine reinforced for me the ideas that I expressed in my blog assessment essay – that blogging can be relevant if no-one reads it, given that the space is used appropriately for reflection and critical analysis and noting of one’s own practices and behaviours. It is also a great way to practice writing, and more specifically as Adrian noted, as a way of practicing writing to a speculative audience. When you start to write something good, the audience will come, as long as you put it out there and perform the appropriate transactions – links.

Onto one of my favourite moments for the lecture, being the morbid and often frightening discussion of death. More specifically, the death of books. Adrian raised good points, in that books are now only important because of their relationship with literature, and that in one sense, books are dead (look at how many textbooks, manuals, cookbooks, etc that are online, or e-books instead of physical books). In this sense, the equation and balance between convenience and experience have to be measured. For something like a manual or a textbook, or an academic essay the ease of access and convenience comes first. Even perhaps, for literature and fiction convenience may come first. But for those with interests closely tying into the experience that a book provides, the book is still very relevant. Personally, I like nothing more than to relax and read a good book, made of fine quality paper, with a nice leather binding and crisp pages. The experience is too rewarding for me to give that up. There’s also the collectors factor. I have books that I have collected not only because of the stories within, but because of the very object themselves too, being desirable.

On one final note I want to take a second to think about the health behind books and e-books. I for one, know that I sleep better after having read a book on paper, rather than screen. There’s plenty of evidence out there to suggest that screens do not allow your eyes to relax before sleep, which can significantly affect the effectiveness of your rejuvenation during sleep. Not only this, but as someone with poor sight, sometimes I struggle to focus on a screen. Paper holds the perfect contrast between black and white, but it is softer. It’s easier for my eyes to focus on, therefor the content of the read becomes more digestible.

With that, I can say that I’m a firm believer in books. But it’s also nice to be able to have a convenient portable version of a book. Maybe the book industry could take a page from the music industry and provide free e-book downloads with physical purchases. That’s something I would find very useful and could be a major factor in determining whether I buy a book or not. Is it economically viable for publishers? That’s not for me to know. Time to do some research.


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