Reader Beware...You choose the Scare.

Reader Beware…You choose the Scare.

Reading Week 5- Hypertext

An Extract from Douglas, J. Yellowlees. The End of Books — Or Books Without End?: Reading Interactive Narratives. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000. Print.

I’ve heard the term Hypertext before and I understood a few of the connotations. I assumed it was the same as a hyperlink, but upon reading the Douglas extract I have come to learn much more on the subject.

The number of scholarly articles on hypertext are on mass, as observed by Douglas, there are a lot more articles on hypertext than examples. This reading in particular goes on and on about how hypertext will effect the relationship between the author and the reader, drawing on the theories such  as Roland Barthes concept of ‘The Death of the Author’. The focus is very much on the how the technological aspects of hypertext may threaten the viability of written fiction, and linear writing itself.

However through all this discussion of video interactive hypertext, all I can think about is the topics relevance to the “Give yourself Goosebumps” series. As a youngster I was a big fan of the R.L Steins, choose your own adventure versions of the Goosebump series. It basically allowed its readers to choose from a wide range of options in guiding the story, as the reader navigates through collections of chapters, which form a web of possibilities rather than a linear predetermined path.

However my experience with the novels cause me to question numerous aspects of Douglas’s arguments and the viability of hypertext as a literary form of the future.

My first issue, is the relevance of hypertext to print literacy. The reading give me the impression that the only way to produce successful hypertext communication is via technological means, such as video or online.  To suggest that one will impede the other seems insignificant to me. Perhaps i’m not seeing the bigger picture, but to me hypertext sounds like it could threaten television and film, more than it poses to threaten written language. When I read, i read to relax and unwind. Although Douglas brushes of the notion of hypertext being likened to schizophrenia, I see the high level of truth in the statement. I don’t find the concept of navigating my own way through a story calming at all, in fact as sad as it sounds, it seems like to much effort me.

My second issue draws upon my experiences with the goosebumps series. To put it simply, they often frustrated the hell out of me! I couldn’t concentrate…I’d decide to go one way, but the whole time I was reading i was pondering what was happening in all the other scenarios so i’d go back and try another. I didn’t have the discipline to see a story through. I think that’s what people love about linear story’s. We may not like whats happening, we may wish we could change it to something else, but similarly to the way life works we cant. As a reader we have to sit through the hard and the good times, using our own past experiences to fill in the gaps and assume continuity, a journey occurs that you cant completely control, and I believe that’s what makes the process so fulfilling in the end.

Its an interesting concept, I do believe having a story with endless narrative possibilities would be entertaining. But I do not see hypertext narratives threatening books, or even linear narratives for that matter.


Doesn’t this just look plain frustrating to you?