Re: [-empyre-] various posts

At 8:09 -0500 27/5/03, Patrick Lichty wrote:
Therefore let me go to a concrete example. My piece, Grasping at Bits ( is an example of what I'm talking about. The essay was written as stand-alone lexia that convey concise pieces of information regarding issues of art and intellectual property in light of the Internet. The essay was then 'structured' (in the narrative sense) so that each paragraph could have numerous links, creating an associative/probabilistic sense of flow. Note that this is very different from a hyperlink which infers a singular link to a given item. In this case, I was giving 4-5 simultaneous links to a given topic.

Like this a lot, and it is an excellent description of the process of hypertext being considered hypertextually (or whatever term you want to use). As a card carrying hypertext academic I'd take minor issue with the idea that they hyperlink infers a singular connection. This is the hegemonic form of the link, largely defined via http and html, but is not the only sort of link. Apart from other systems that provide much more sophisticated possibilities for the link (Storyspace, Tinderbox, Jim Rosenberg's work in Hypercard, John Cayley's work in Hypercard all spring to mind) the xlink standard (a w3c standard) also provides a more complex idea of the link.

On a related note, links are always excessive, which is why people like Nielsen insist on building prohibitions about their use. If they didn't have this excess, then people wouldn't need to insist on prohibitions. :-) This is the case even with 'singular' links.

What does this do to narrative? It takes the link or the linear progression (and I believe that in hyperlinking there may be non-linearity, but it is a distinct causal linkage taking you from one point to another) and creates a narrative 'range' of relations. I've always considered this as a sculptural form of writing, as I _am_ creating a narrative, but in very different terms than traditional hyperlinking. But that takes it back to synaesthenic relations by adding a more haptic element to reading. In this case, narrative flow has been interwoven with the structure, and the structure is part of the HCI. Perhaps narrative is breaking down and giving rise to a more poetic form, but I would argue that what is happening is the construction of a different form of narrative. I realize that this is an atypical example of the convergence of narrative, structure and HCI, but hope that my referencing it makes more sense.

Enjoyed this, and I'm forwarding it to my hypertext theory students who are busy writing essays, much in the manner you describe, and so it will be helpful to them. You might be interested in some recent work in the hypertext community (Mark Bernstein, David Millard, and Mark J. Weal) on sculptural hypertext.

As another example I once wrote an essay in Storyspace, moved it into html, then drew a map of the link structure and used colour to indicate the link density (links in and out) from each node. This meant the reader could read in the manner you've described Patrick, or they could use the 'map' which showed some of the pathways but more importantly which nodes where 'primary' in terms of their density of connection. Was quite an interesting exercise.

Anyone else on empyre been writing as Patrick describes? I'm *very* interested in academic writing that really does explore this, rather than treat links as singular already defined and evacuated points of connection.

Adrian Miles
+ MelbourneDAC2003 digital arts and culture conference []
+ interactive desktop video developer []
+ hypertext rmit []
+ InterMedia:UiB. university of bergen []

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