Notes on "You Say You Want a Revolution? Hypertext and the Laws of Media"

Moulthrop, Stuart. "You Say You Want a Revolution? Hypertext and the Laws of Media". Postmodern Culture 1(3), May 1991. <>:

"Electronic information may be rapidly duplicated, transmitted, and assembled into new knowledge structures."

"immanence"? and "intertextuality of all life" see more like rhetorical stances than pragmatic approaches.

IMMANENCE/TRANSCENDENCE — microtext/macrotext — individual/collective | pc reality/net reality

"This is a world in which all "work" becomes "text," not substance but reference, not containment but connection (see Bush; Barthes; Zuboff)." - All except the idea modules themselves, though their contents can be referential, the need not be because a module is contained within itself, as "modularization" is in computer programming.

This article is about hypertext as a collective networking system. Moulthrop basis his thinking on Nelson's work, which is not the only work on hypertext, nor the only thinking about the information space in existence, but Moulthrop's article enjoys the wordplay and Nelson's "vision".

2. What Does Hypertext Displace or Render Obsolete?
"Though it may be tempting to respond, the book, that answer makes no sense. The book is already "dead"(or superseded) if by "alive" you mean that the institution in question is essential to our continued commerce in ideas." - how does hypertext compete with the book? I'm not sure. In the current world, not the 1991 world of the article, the 'net' has gotten bigger sans the idea of hypertext proper, and yet books are still going strong. Is this the techno-optimism showing through? Though Moulthrop does see as meaning "…the end of the death of literature." in hindsight, his and Nelson's visions are either too early or wacky.

"Literacy in hypertext encompasses two domains: the ordinary grammatical, rhetorical, and tropological space that we know as 'literature,' and also a second province, stricter in its formalisms but much greater in its power to shape interactive discourse. This second domain has been called 'writing space' (Bolter 4)". - spatial relationships are noted.

"The wonder of hypertext and hypermedia lies in their capacity to escape these limitations by using the microprocessor to turn linear, monologic typography recursively back upon itself - to create linear control structures that enable an escape from linear control." - linearity vs. sequence

hypotext vs. hypertext — hypotext is the interface underneath the hypertext, it is the tools, the wrenches that make things happen, this is important when looking at a medium through McLuhan's eyes.

secondary literacy: adherence and understanding(?) of non-print forms of language, "audible space" of cognition(Ong, McLuhan)..

"…but the secondary literacy fostered by hypertext could help us at least to begin the enormous task of drawing our own cognitive maps." - the humanist plea for inner-understanding through technological means. Does this inner-understanding mean tools for creation of ideas? Or just self-referential naval gazing. I suppose we can attribute it to both.

This article is too optimistic about Nelson's system, which is yet incomplete and will probably never be. Moulthrop's ideas are mostly within the socio-political realm, thinking about authority etc. Not too useful for my project since the authority of creation is solely within the users grasp. It is his mind map, his workstation, his indexing scheme, his inventions.

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