Forget about computers. Hypertext is not a new thing. It has been around since the bards took requests to tell one part of The Epic at a wedding feast, and another part in honor of a hero. Hypertext happens whenever children interact with their bedtime stories. It happens every time you tell a story differently.
Technically, Hypertext is "text that branches and allows choices to the reader". Theodor H. Nelson put the word hypertext together. It is associative, rather than linear. Memory is associative. Even though events in time happen in a this-then-that order, much like the pages of a book, one thing can remind you of another, somehow. Your memory is a hypertext. The story of a game of make believe is hypertext, because it is chosen, "written" and "read" all at once. Yes, those "Choose Your Own Adventure Books" are hypertext, too. They're fun, aren't they?
Hypertext offers a wealth of creative possibilities, and I am inspired by them. It's about more than "choose what happens next" for me. It's about those associative qualities. As a writer, choices about how to tell a story are very important. As a reader, choices about what to read are the primary concern. A branching text can open up the doors for those choices, in new ways that books and movies cannot do.
This text was written to fulfill the requirements of an undergraduate senior thesis project at Maryville College in Tennessee. The assignment had two main parts: a work of creative writing and the thesis. This is chapter one of the thesis.
This text was written to fulfill the requirements of an undergraduate senior thesis project at Maryville College in Tennessee. The assignment had two main parts: a work of creative writing and the thesis. This is chapter two of the thesis.
No Categories began as a collection of research notes, discoveries, and opinions regarding hypertext theory and literature. These were collected into an ongoing weblog.
Since then I have perused the subject further as an intern at Eastgate Systems. Along the way, I have collected a variety of things that might be of use to a fellow student of the subject. Those are shared here.
After finishing my thesis work with hypertext, I travelled to Boston to work a summer internship with Eastgate Systems, a pre-eminent publisher of serious hypertexts. Part of my work there was to compile the information that began the Eastgate Hypertext Compendium of Academic Resources which is now maintained as a smaller but more up-to-date list of courses.
We hope that this compendium of hypertext resources will give students and instructors, now and in the future, a better sense of what has been done elsewhere and what might be accomplished, and to facilitate communication among everyone interested in studying and teaching hypertext.
This is my first attempt at a literary hypertext. To Win, Simply Play is about making choices, and the (interconnected?) lives of three people who have choices to make, and it is about whether they make those choices or not. There is an interesting card game theme in this story. If you want more about how to read this, seek your own.
"A House Without Walls" is made out of one thread of the story I told with my first Hypertext. "A House Without Walls" is an allusion to the Orpheus myth. Two young lovers enter a psychological hell of their own making and attempt to escape. The narrative is designed to be read on an electronic device. It contains links, providing the reader a variety of disjointed paths through the text.