Thursday, February 7, 2008

Ordered Disorder

Confusion – this is the perfect word for what I felt when I started reading Patchwork Girl. Clicking around, I stumbled upon clusters of text or images that were not always clearly linked to other clusters. Occasionally, I found myself not even knowing where to click to take myself to another section. This being my first experience reading a hypertext, I found its organization quite frustrating and rather shocking. The organization (or rather, what I initially thought to be the disorganization) of the textual and graphic information seemed almost to contradict or somehow oppose the desire for great organization that we saw with Bush's memex and Nelson's file structure.

However, as I continued navigating and exploring Patchwork Girl, I began to see and to better understand the order that lay within this apparent disorder. Patchwork Girl is perhaps actually much closer to achieving the form of organization written of by Bush and Nelson than the more conventional literature to which I have had greater exposure. I am accustomed to a linear progression of a story. I read from the beginning to the end, top to bottom, left to right; I encounter the text and the ideas within it in a specific order, one after another.  This was my idea of organization in literature. Yet, this is not the way we organize our own ideas. We do not think linearly; our minds wander from thought to thought through the connections and the associations we make between them. Similarly, the clusters of text and images in Patchwork Girl were not linked in one long, finite line. There was no clear beginning or end; each section linked to another section, and yet another, such that they were all connected in a large, sprawling web. In this way, the ordered disorder of Patchwork Girl, to some extent, emulates the intricate workings of our minds.

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