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RE: <nettime> Hypertext pre.0.1
Jim Andrews on Sat, 5 Oct 2002 09:40:56 +0200 (CEST)

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RE: <nettime> Hypertext pre.0.1

Hypertext wasn't better than books. Most hypertexts should have been books.

Plain hypertext failed as, say, fiction, partly because it is difficult to get a feeling for the
whole thing, for the shape of the whole, as easily as you can in a book. That is not an
insurmountable problem, though; such views can be built into hypertexts as they are in, say,
Help files. Also, reading text on a computer screen is hard work compared to the leisure and
pleasure of a book. No one talks of the failure of hypertext concerning, say, technical matter.
It succeeds there. Because it is searchable, indexed, perusable, and referenceable more quickly
than a book.

The associations made via the link in plain hypertext lead you by the nose through something
where we prefer to make our own associations unless the terms are, say, technical, as in Help
files, or asides and such. We are quite used to navigating via pleasure through large fictive
texts. We're all growed up. Links that lead us by the nose are coy.

In an effort to beef up the pleasure of the hypertext, we moved on to combining image and text.
Usually this simply served to further unfocus the text and distract from the text. When it
clicked, however, it suggested what is to come. It was a move in the right direction because the
phenomenology of the contemporary computer involves several media and arts and also programming.
Successful hypermedia is not baby steps from print.

We enjoy Nettime and other lists on which we read plain old text on a harsh white screen
(usually) because different posts are linked dialogically and we can participate via replying.
It is an animism, as interactive as one could wish, and between people, not with a machine,
solely, though anything we type at a computer involves interaction with a machine. And some of
it speaks to us directly, not as a cipher.

To achieve this level of dialog and interactivity, this level of dynamic energy, relevance, and
significance is certainly a challenge for those who would make works for the Web. But we do see
some amazing work emerging via synthesis of arts, media, and programming.


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