Saturday, October 22, 2011

Assignment 5: New Media Reader Ch. 48 + 49

You Say You Want a Revolution?

-Stuart Moulthrop

-"all distributed computing systems are hypertextual, since they deliver information dynamically in response to a user's demands"

-Moulthrop seems to get at the question of why hypertext hasn't really taken off as a big thing, despite how great it is. He points out that while there is in fact a general consensus of "we need a revolution" relating to the current (written in 1991) system of information, the problem may very well lie within the fact that people don't seem to understand what it is that they're asking for exactly, through the scope of a misunderstanding of technological history.

-Relates back to Nelson's Xanadu, proposing that it would in fact (after being actually realized), help the desired paradigm shift of the information infrastructure: how it is accessed, changed, etc.

-Nelson's hope lies mostly in returning to literacy, as a "cure for the television stupor".

-Populitism: combines "populism" with "elite". Points to the idea of equal access of information to all.

-Looking at Hypertext through the scope of the four basic questions:

"What does Hypertext enhance of intensify?"
Being what it is, Moulthrop argues that hypertext in fact naturally augments peoples' ability to make and recognize patterns. Moulthrop also likens this awareness of a bigger picture to Pynchon's take on "paranoia", which stems from the realization of everything being connected.

"what does Hypertext displace or make obsolete?"
It is stated that the book might seem like the obvious answer. This is somewhat true, insofar that it seems that an ideal hypertext might in fact need to be digitized as opposed to printed, simply for ease of navigation. Thus, hypertext doesn't seek the obsolescence of literature or literacy, as much as what Moulthrop refers to as post-literacy, in other words, the television.

"What does Hypertext retrieve that was previously obsolete?"
As pointed out in the previous question, Moulthrop goes on to state that Hypertext is a very literacy-based system, wherein people will need to actively write and interact with one another as opposed to say, passively sitting and receiving everything that comes out of a TV.

"What does hypertext become when taken to its limit?"
"every form, pushed to the limit of its potential, reverses its characteristics". Thus, one possibility that is pointed out: "an empowering technology turned into a mechanism of cooptation and enslavement". Nelson's perspective combats this, with mention of a negotiated consensus, compared to the idea of a consensual illusion. -Nelson claims that people would in fact go out of their ways to make their voices heard and actively partake, discuss, and compromise as necessary, as opposed to there being those that would simply follow and join something that they think is already set in stone.

The End of Books

-Robert Coover

-Coover starts by pretty much saying that in this digital age, the printed book is slowly but surely nearing its last days.

-Believes the power of the line within conventionally written books to be oppressive. Hypertext of course, is the answer!

-Hypertext provides multiple paths between text segments, or "Lexias".

-It is pointed out that hypertext may be something a bit difficult to fully perceive, with its lack of starting points, boarders, boundaries, etc.

-Taught a Hypertextual writing course. Points out that naturally, some fear the erasure of their known structures, while others embrace venturing into the unknown.

- Coover believes that despite advances in technology, the basic framework of hypertext will stay the same. It will however be difficult to maintain/migrate some hypertexts because of the constant advancement, so there are are some issues with compatibility.

-Navigation also proves to be something of a problem. Coover asks: "how do you move around infinity without getting lost?".

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