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Lesson 12.  Hypertext into Practice

Collaborative Exercise: Hypertext project

Writing your project through the development of basic web pages.

Texts: Darren Tofts and Murray McKeich, Memory Trade: A Prehistory of Cyberculture, G + B Arts International, 1998. (Special Reserve)

Jay David Bolter  Writing Space: the computer, hypertext and the history of writing, Lawrence Erlbaum, 1991. (Special Reserve)

 

Remember Tofts examines memory and flowing Ong and Havelock (remember?) suggests that communication technology – including writing -  affects how we use memory – memory is context-sensitive.

Jay David Bolter asserted in Writing Space that hypertext emulates the cognitive functioning of the mind – by association.

Early cognitive theory used a logical model of the mind for AI research - logical serial processing. But from what we know of the brain more complex ‘neural nets’ are closer models.


Hypertext gives a push to thinking about a text and an author

Linking marks a critical difference between authoring a unilinear text and building a hypertext with multiple reading orders. Linking cannot be ignored. Links give hypertexts their flex, enabling readers to follow their preferred paths through articles. Mindy McAdams &Stephanie Berger.[1] 

Mallarme ‘The pure work implies the elocutory disappearance of the poet who abandons the initiative to words.’ That is high art speaking. The poet is purely catalyst, involved in alchemy.[2]

Roland Barthes, ‘The Death of the Author’, ‘To give a text an Author is to impose a limit on that text, to furnish it with a final signified, to close the writing. Such a conception suits criticism very well, the latter then allotting itself the important task of discovering the Author (or its hypostases: society, history, psyche, liberty) beneath the work: when the Author has been found, the text is "explained"—victory to the critic. [3]

Bolter, ‘In an electronic library writers turn easily form writing their own text to reading other texts. The distinction between their own and other texts begins to blur . . .In a full-fledged hypertext the distinction can disappear altogether.’ p216

‘It is as if the computer could dissolve Plato’s distinction between internal and external memory.’ p216

Documentary

There is no one reality that we have access to – so any use of the term reality must be cautiously approached.

Michael Weinberger posits that a documentary must meet the following five requirements: (1) it must attempt to tell a true story in a non-dramatic fashion; (2) it must appear to do so by presenting only factual evidence; (3) it must not attempt to re-create the truth (though some would defend the validity of this method); (4) it must claim objectivity; (5) most importantly, (and perhaps most difficult to ascertain) it must, as closely as possible, present all factual evidence in its original context.
Defining Documentary Film: The Question of Roger and Me

But any use of photography, video or film – any use of text, reportage is a process of construction that influences the depiction of reality at the very least through the selection process.

Many works that purport to be documentary will have some areas of blurred genre or hybridisation.

 

Using the documentary to explore Place

Psychologists speak of environment in three sense:

1.   the familiar one of E. providing basic requirements nutrients, oxygen, exercise experience etc. that facilitate the common expression of genetic potential, ie the E. of development

2.   more recent sense - the environmental selection pressures in our evolutionary past  which we now think shape and constrain cognitive functions, ie the E. of evolution.

3.   the variable aspects of E. that may be related to individual differences in cognitive ability, the E. of difference.

But attempts to describe environments can remove their dynamic structure.

 

What is Place?

Yi-Fu Tuan offers the following definition: ‘Place is a centre of meaning constructed by experience. Place is known not only through the eyes and mind but also through the more passive and direct modes of experience, which resist objectification. To know a place fully means both to understand it in an abstract way and to know it as one person knows another.’[i] Casey suggests another simile, ‘A place is my familiaris (literally, a ‘familiar spirit’). As I know my way around my own house, so I know my way around all the familiar places of my ‘habitat’ . . . ‘being is synonymous with being situated.’ [ii] The wooden hut of Schama’s great-grandfather, a timber worker, stood in the Treblinka region. Schama finds him pressing his mother, ‘And just where, exactly, was this place, this house . . . I badly needed to know.’ [iii]

 The concept of place is fertile. According to Relph, experiencing place is different from experiencing landscape due to the concept of 'time' and associated memories. Landscape can undergo significant changes whereas place remains the same.[iv] Carter talks of the poetic property of place ‘The transformational aspect of personal space something neither a village’s fixed space nor the camera’s roving eye can capture is ‘a poetic property’. Space is the active environment where differences and resemblances first emerge. ‘Places’ within space are not fixed objects, but moments where our consciousness perceives a connection which makes it aware of itself.’ [v]

This processural sense is also noted by Harvey who envisages place as a site of human relationships, memories, conflicts and desires, i.e. another social process.[vi] But place is at heart location, Berry warns ‘it is vain to think either that the mind can be a place, or that the mind alone can find a proper place for itself or for us. It must look out of itself into the world.’[vii]

 

 

[i] Tuan, Yi-Fu, ‘Place: an experiential perspective’, The Geographical Review  65, 2, pp. 151-165. 1975 p151.

[ii] Casey, Edward S., The Fate of Place, (1997) Uni of California Press, 1998, p232-3. He  quotes from Merleau-Ponty’s, Phenomenology of Perception, 1963 p252.

[iii] Schama, ibid, p27-8.

[iv] Relph, E., Place and Placelessness, Pion, 1976, p 31. Walter argues that the quality of a place depends on ‘a human context shaped by memories and expectations, by stories of real and imagined events, that is, by historical experience located there.’ E.W., Walter, ‘The place of experience’, The Philosophical Forum 12, 1980-81, p141.

[v] Carter, Paul, ‘Another Country: The Village in Childhood’, PN Review 55, 1987.p59.

[vi] Harvey, David, Justice, Nature and the Geography of Difference, Blackwell, 1996.

[vii] Berry Wendell, ‘Poetry and Place’ in Standing by Words, North Point, 1983, p179. See also Barry Lopez, ‘Losing Our Sense of Place’, Teacher Magazine, Feb, 1990, p188.

 

 

Keep in mind the following. I will want these issues to be addressed:

Central Notion/s
Identify and explain purpose of site - whether fiction, poetry, diary, mixed genre, informative, didactic, etc.; 

Problems
Identify what problems you are having in developing the ideas for the site, writing and situating the writing on a hypertext platform;

Sources
Identify and briefly discuss works in any media that have provided input to your approach and material;

Critique
Identify (situate), define, analyze and evaluate the project;

Other relevant Web Sites
Identify (with links) and describe other web sites relevant these discussions.



[1] Mindy McAdams &Stephanie Berger, ‘Hypertext’, The Journal of Electronic Publishing  March, 2000   Volume 6, Issue 3 http://www.press.umich.edu/jep/06-03/McAdams/pages/

[2] Michael Beaujour, ‘Two Contextual Approaches’, in The Prose Poem in France, Ed. Mary Ann Caws and Hermine Riffaterre. Columbia UP, 1983, p55.

[3] Roland Barthes, ‘The Death of the Author’ Image, Music, Text, trans. Stephen Heath, Hill and Wang, 1977, p147.