Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Adaptivity of Hypertext

The idea of hypertext contains a cozy idea of how one may use it just as one wishes, and draw out of it just what one desires. The multiplicity of paths in hypertext plays with your desires like the old Goosebumps books where you could make your own choices. But the true possibility in hypertext is not just a few "alternate endings". Rather, it is the ability for a hypertext to adapt to your choices in addition to just fulfilling them. To understand this idea, think about Google search. It always begins in the same place: the search bar. From there, one can search for Web, Pictures, Videos, Shopping etc. Following the path that the user desires, by surfing from link to link, the user can eventually find what they want. Similarly, in a hypertext the reader can follow from the many paths available. He/she is following a hierarchical structure and draws from a body of knowledge, just as the web surfer.

However, this idea alone is not intriguing. Furthermore, Google does not make money by providing links alone. It is the adaptivity of Google that makes it powerful. Every search made is saved. After looking for a new plasma TV, you can be sure that all advertisements appearing on the side will be for consumer electronics for time to come. If hypertext can employ a similar tactic, tracking and understanding the choices made by the reader, codes can be used to further customize the hypertext experience. Through new codes that not only allow diversity but ensure it, the hypertext can approach the idea of "writerly text". As the user experiences the hypertext, the hypertext is changing and morphing into what the user imagines. In this way, the internet is already manifesting the possibilities of hypertext. But the areas in which this has not been tapped into are copious.

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