Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Hypertext & Hypermedia

In “Hypertext and The Laws of Media,” Moulthrop answers the question, “What does hypertext displace or render obsolete?” by dismissing the belief that it will end the death of literature; I found this passage very intriguing and accurate. With the rise of hypertext, there will also be the rise of hypermedia. With written text will come “ ‘texts’ that incorporate voice, music, animated graphics and video along with alphabetic script.” Having written this back in 1991, Moulthrop’s prediction regarding the educational impact of the hypertext system Xandu is very similar to the impact of the contemporary computer and internet. Nowadays, sure it is possible research websites, educational databases, and electronic encyclopedias; however, television, movies, cartoons, and music are available via youtube, blogs, and websites owned by TV broadcasting companies. Thus, although text is made more easily available online, it is tough to say that such systems prevent the death of literature, since with this text comes other forms of entertainment media.

It is also intriguing to look at the views and definitions of “hypertext” and hypertext systems as described by Moulthrop and Nelson. As I stated earlier, Moulthrop speaks of hypertext as “a connection -- promiscuous, pervasive, and polymorphously perverse connection,” denying its ability to recover and revive lost literature. Meanwhile, Nelson states that “such an object and system, properly designed and administered, could have great potential for education, increasing the student’s range of choices, his sense of freedom, his motivation, and his intellectual grasp.” Nelson clearly views hypertext with a more positive outlook, stating its pros and positive impact it may have on education. Which brings me to another point: with such powerful technology, would such a system defeat the purpose for school systems and classes? Despite the limitations of social experience and human interaction, couldn’t one gain a full education using a hypertext system described by Nelson and/or Bush?

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