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Bibliography | Annotated Bibliography | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Renee's Academic Realm\ My Works\ Essay 2 \ 4

Structural Effects

Besides the rhetorical aspect, next let us move on to the structural aspect of hypertexts. Obviously, a hypertext is structure quite differently from a print text, if it has a structure to speak of. Many postmodernists and poststructuralists have argued that hypertexts are 'formless', 'shifting', 'decentered' and 'nonlinear'. But this really mean that hypertext has no form? [ii] Well, "non-linearity is itself a form" (Brent) too, isn't it? Therefore, links create a new kind of genre i.e. that of 'nonlinearity' and 'decentredness', and they present readers with choices. Instead of reading a text linearly, hypertext readers can choose the path they want to take through a particular hypertext by following some links but not others. This implies that now two readers will have the same interpretation about a particular hypertext. Or is this not so?

While it cannot be denied that links indeed result in nonlinear texts, much less can be said about the so-called more choices available. Due to the way hypertexts are structured, I argue that links limits choices and room for interpretation by the reader by setting out specific paths to follow. A reader who may well have interpreted a particular word or phrase in some other way can only interpret it in the way the author has set out for the word or phrase to be interpreted, via links. The author thus imposes a kind of constraint on the reader "by making it easy to follow preordained links and harder to chase after other material" (Brent). Hence, much as a link opens up possibilities for choice, it has as much potential to limit and conceal, and this potential to be both a possibility for choice as well as a constraint is unique to hypertexts indeed.

[ii] For more discussion on this, please read Annotated Bibliography 2.

1 | Introduction 2 | Links Have Effects 3 | Rhetorical Effects
4 | Structural Effects 5 | Aesthetics 6 | Conclusion

Copyright Renee's Realm. 2000.