Beta Unsymposium 0.3, Attack of the Clones (sorry couldn’t resist)

(Imagine these words moving slowly away from your eyes.. and an orchestra… definitely an orchestra…).

Darkness has come over the subject, mystery surrounds the cohort like a fog.

Only a rag tag group of academics rise to challenge the enigmas that plagues our modern society.

Bear witness to their challenge.

The first question came in a strange guise, “how does hypertext relate to storytelling in different media formats?”.

The general response was that while traditional mediums offer some choice, hypertext media is built around the choices of its user and the connections or ‘links’ add to the narrative, much like Sergei Eisenstein’s concept of montage in cinema. Brian used the example of channel surfing as a ‘protohypertext’  Furthermore Adrian was quick to add that the programmability of hypertext and its relaxation to repetition, Adrian likened hypertext to music in this way with repetition showing new facets of a text instead of becoming monotonous. This also raised the point that an idea can never be 100% communicated and that there will always be interpretation in the part of the receiver of text.

Hypertext is relevant because it’s strength is the links between passages, in the modern web links are everything. A websites page rank is hugely dependent on the number of sites feeding in and out of it. In this way sharing is the currency of the web.

Next we moved onto an oft contentious subject, ‘are printed books dead?

it was generally agreed that printed books would decline as eBook use went up but printed books wouldn’t entirely disappear and would become instead fetishized boutique objects like LP’s are today.

This segued into a general conversation on essays in education and how they are a dinosaur of a pre-digital era. A counterpoint was formed however that they are still a good way of developing an argument in a scientific way. ie Making a hypothesis, proving a hypothesis, restating hypothesis with evidence.

And just in case we were losing interest as a theme took longer than an average YouTube video, Adrian finished with a quick summary of the difference between knowledge and learning in modern education. His stance, that we are brought up to a certain bench mark in the current education system and no further. So someone who is strong in a certain subject will actually learn comparatively less while still receiving better grades on paper. This is because they have entered with a high proficiency already and the system has no interest in furthering this.

And so our motley crew did vanquish the beast that is curiosity, for now….