Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hypertext as a malleable story

In Tuesday's lab session we have interacted with the hypertextual story of the "Monsterous" Patchwork Girl by Shelley Jackson, with little instruction so I had no preconception of what I was going into. As I clicked around the story, it didn't take me long to realize that the contents of this piece were presented to me in a relatively jumbled up way, making me read through many passages over and over again, without realizing what actually was going on.

Contextually, the story fascinated me because the monster kept changing constantly; her creator, the author, changed places with her offspring and then finally set her free. I really liked the dissolution of "I" as both their minds and bodies conjoined both physically and emotionally.

Given the discussion that we had today I think it presented a very good example about how hypertext is not to be "consumed" or simply read, but to be played around with. As I clicked around the passages I discovered links that I hadn't noticed before (such as the head, torso and various parts of the body on the "graveyard" page) and finding out about them made me look for more clickable passages that might take me away to a different part of the story. And even if I had to read a passage again, reading it with the insight coming from another path changed it.

It was also an interesting depiction of the dual nature of hypertext. As I clicked around in the story panels, the "map" of the story line would also move from square to square. So, although I was moving freely and without a linear narrative within the story, the skeleton, the essence of the story was already encoded and set in line. I could move to any point, but that point was already predetermined, and therefore constrained.

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