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Renee's Academic Realm\ My Works \ Essay 1.3

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Let me get back to the question, then, of whether hypertexts is different from print texts. Isn't it obvious, now, that there are differences? No doubt one could argue that one still reads from left to right and from top to bottom, be it for print texts or hypertexts. But for one, the conventions for hypertexts differ from that of print texts, as exemplified in my account of reading hyperfiction above. Furthermore, the possibilities that hypertexts present to the reader and also the writer are those that print texts had not been able to provide. For example, one could argue that hypertext provides the opportunity for communal sharing by making it more accessible to the masses. Some people in some parts of the world are actually denied access to some print texts, due to one reason or another (e.g. rare books). If the hypertext version of this print text is made available online, this good book can then be shared by a lot more people.

Hypertext allows for greater interaction between the reader and the writer, whereas for print text, interaction is kept to a minimum, if not at all. In fact, I would like to argue that it allows for a more 'humanized' interaction of the human mind, not only with the imaginary, but also with the reality simultaneously. One could respond to a piece of hyperfiction immediately by sending an electronic mail to the writer. Alternatively, one could do a review on the hyperfiction he has read, post it on the web, and link it to the original hyperfiction so that other Net users can read it as well. This form interaction is immediate and spontaneous, more like that of human interaction, when compared to that of the reader with the print text and the writer. As a reader of print texts, I could only read, understand, imagine, and perhaps either agree or disagree with the writer. But I could not tell the writer, much less the rest of the world, how I feel. With hypertext, everyone can be a publisher or a writer. In addition, the hypertext reader plays an active role in the construction of meaning, for it is he who decides which link to follow, which link to exclude, and whether to stay with the writer or sidetrack to a different topic altogether. However it must be brought to attention that the reader does not have complete freedom here, much as it seems so. The links are the creation of the writer, constructed in such a way that it reflects how the writer wants his readers to 'see' his work or argument. Why I chose to hyperlink this word and not the other is a reflection of what I feel should be the case, or simply what I want my audience to see. Hence, much as the hypertext includes (via the provision of links); it excludes too (by not creating certain links).

 

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Copyright Renee's Realm. 2000.