Landow gets hyper

In the reading this week, Landow writes about the beginning of hypertext and attempts to define and outline how it changes the reading of texts. What I derived from it, is that the beauty of hypertext lies in its nonexistent structure. You can begin wherever you may wish, and travel down whatever path interests and benefits you the most. As Adrian mentioned in the lecture this week, you don’t get this freedom when reading print texts. Sure, you have the freedom to put down the text/book whenever you lose interest, however you will always have the knowledge that there are unturned pages within its covers. For me, an unfinished book is like a silent guilt or unpleasant nag at the back of my mind.

Alternatively, Landow used blogging, as an example of where hypertext allows the existence of an ‘active reader-author, envisaged by Nelson and other pioneers'(p.78). Unlike books, when I come across a new blog, I don’t feel the incessant need to start at the first blog post ever written (arguably the beginning). Through hypertext, I can start at any of the listed archived posts and through links to other pages or entries, gather ‘context without the (blogger) having to explain again’.(p.78) I may then read comments from other users on the particular entry and reply specifically to them, or comment my own thoughts. Maybe one of the submitted comments has been done so by an expert, and I could therefore link out to his/her profile. Here, I am actively engaging in deep reading about a particular topic. I am gathering opinions from more than one person, while simultaneously contemplating and sharing my own. A book, while I cherish its physical presence, has no interactive qualities. I may write in the margins and dog tag pages to come back to, but I cannot change or add to the text itself, which will always remain static.

Hypertext, in the words of Landow, ‘moves the boundary of power away from the author in the direction of the reader’ (p.124) where the reader can choose where they enter the text, where they leave the text and what the borders of the text are. It means any internet user can be a producer of content and actively interact with a text.

This isn’t a concept which will deem hard copy books irrelevant, but rather, they will exist simultaneously and dependent on each other. This argument comes from Bolter who says that the very existence of hypertext is dependent on books, just as books can only exist because the egyptians wrote on papyrus all those years ago. There are times where handwriting is still a preferred mode of communicating, just as physical books are always going to have a place in the hypertext world.

Long live books!!

Good Ol’ Nelson

“Hope 1. To have our everyday lives made simple and flexible by the computer as a personal information tool.

Hope 2. To be able to read, on computer screens, from vast libraries easily, the things we choose being clearly and instantly available to us, in a great interconnected web of writings and ideas” (Nelson, 1992, p. 15)

I am awed at Nelson’s ability to predict these things years and years prior to them occurring. I need only think to the University Library domains we have accessible to us to fully understand how accurate his musings were. Not only is this a ‘great interconnected web of writings and ideas’, but we have tools which allow us to ‘choose (what is) clearly and instant available to us’. (p.15) We can advance our search, ruling out certain keywords and providing emphasis on others, and we have the ability to save the writings and ideas for out own collection on our own device, ready to access at any time with or without the internet.

Library Search

A way that we have advanced even further than Nelson’s expectations, is the expansion of technology into everyday objects. At our fingertips we now have fridges that can outline their contents from the screen outside, the same screen can also tell us the weather, give us access to Foxtel and detail the nearest supermarket. We have household weighing scales that keep track of any weight loss/gain we’ve made, and give us the option of sending the information to a social media site to keep us accountable.

Considering the initial concepts for the internet were proposed a mere 50-60 years ago, approximately half a lifetime, the rapid expansion we have already faced leaves me excited yet slightly apprehensive to what comes next. What will the coming generations, who have never known life without the internet, come up with? Is the internet going to invade every aspect of out ‘offline’ life, like the google glasses propose? Or are we almost already there? Can’t wait to see what evolves.

Reference: Nelson, Theodor Holm. Literary Machines 91.1: The Report On, and Of, Project Xanadu Concerning Word Processing, Electronic Publishing, Hypertext, Thinkertoys, Tomorrow’s Intellectual Revolution, And Certain Other Topics Including Knowledge, Education and Freedom. Sausalito: Mindful Press, 1992. Print.


“It went up in the cloud…”

When Adrain mentioned the tag cloud in the week 3 reading, my mind strayed immediately to the recent Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel movie, Sex Tape (2014). I wouldn’t recommend the film at all, but it does have a mildly amusing line,
“It went up in the cloud…Nobody understands the cloud. Its a f***ing mystery.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself Segel.

But if you strip the ‘tag cloud’ back down to what its intended purpose is, as Adrian does in the reading, it’s really just an extremely useful tool which helps to coordinate and make sense of the ‘enormous amount of material added daily’. (2007, p. 205) The use of tags is described as a folksonomy, which I later discovered is a a fairly recent word (see image) and maybe why it has an angry red line underneath it as I write it. Update your dictionary word press.





The overall concept of network literacy is in fact a very new and refreshing concept. It makes manageable and possible what I had previously deemed inaccessible. Yet, the internet doesn’t have to be a scary thing, and we can adapt and learn to understand its helpful tools just as we have to learnt to use a call number in a library. I have a feeling that this realisation is going to become more and more prominent in contemporary society and as people begin to further understand the internet, our celebrities will continue to evolve as a result. Think about YouTube sensation Jenna Marbles, or Zoe Sugg off Zoella. They wouldn’t have risen to fame had they not networked appropriately, using the right tags to attract the right people.

Copyright Confusion

Copyright was an extremely grey area for me, particularly with online content, before I took a look at week two’s readings. Turns out everything is copyrighted. Everything. I’ve therefore been breaking laws since my 1999 prep project on fish. Nobody gave me permission to stick those pictures on my poster…
Anyone could then (theoretically) knock on my door and try and sue me for using their tumblr quote on my Instagram last week? Seems entirely surreal slightly frightening to me…
Lucky, there is such a thing as creative commons, explained so neatly in the reading video, which are licenses people may attach to their content, thereby granting the public complete access without asking permission. Although different varieties of freedom are attached to different licenses, it gives those of us without any budding photography skills some reassurance.


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