August 26th 2014 archive

Going Beyond Reading | Week Five Reading Reflection

The week five reading by George Landow addresses all things hypertext – the nature of the concept, it’s impact on society and the like. Just a quick disclaimer: due to my sleep deprivation, lack of energy, and never-ending pile of assignments, I’m going to keep this post short and sweet!

Amidst Landow’s outline of the limitations of the terminologies used to describe hypertext, the following quote stood out to me:

“Additional problems arise when one considers that hypertext involves a more active reader, one who not only chooses her reading paths but also has the opportunity (in true read-write systems) of reading as someone who creates text; that is, at any time the person reading can assume an authorial role and either attach links or add text to the text being read.”

Consequently, it is arguable that the title of a ‘reader’ is an inappropriate term to use to label an individual who engages with online content. Hypertext ultimately enables a more meaningful and in-touch relationship between the producer and consumer. The ‘readers’ of hypertext can instantaneously respond to other’s works, by linking out to them in a blog post, or through simply posting a comment on their content. The individual who goes to these lengths is certainly doing a lot more than just reading – as Landow put it, they ‘assume an authorial role.’  Perhaps Axel Bruns’ ‘produser’ (mash between producer and user) would also be a sufficient description.

This level of interactivity enabled by hypertext is not as easily achieved between say the reader of a physical novel and its author alone. You can’t scribble a ‘comment’ in the back page of a novel for the author to receive… If you ‘link’ out to an author in an journal entry, they, nor anyone else, will have no awareness of your attempt to connect. But once you put the book down and open a web browser, you now can tweet at John Green to tell him how The Fault In Our Stars changed your life.

We can all thank hypertext for this ideal.