Women's Weblogs
Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004

Grasping for Hypertextuality

You may be curious why the window to the right has appeared (at first, on its own with no text). I'm trying to figure out how to write an essay/ blog post on what I really want this weblog to do. I have been digging through my old files, finished and unfinsihed hypertextual projects; maybe I'll even find some old notes, but what I said about hypertext back then is much less important to me than what I did. So the pictures are crucial.

The window to the right was a piece of the interface of an unfinished project, stilll under contract to Eastgate. You can tell the vintage from the fact that it's a black & white gif, and it goes with a lot of other cunningly designed black and white gifs. I paid a lot of careful attention to transitions. Also, you may notice that my window is a handy visual metaphor.

I'm going to go back to digging through my archives now, and will post more later.

But I will leave you with this image which I created when thinking about what I wanted a hypertextual node to be:

[I found what I was looking for, so the Note continues. The forsythias were placed directly on the scanner. The salt marshes are on Cape Cod in Brewster. The bird is from Cape Cod, but from elsewhere. I think the sky is from Photoshop and the sky-egg definitely is. I was groping for something here, using imagery from other hypertextual stuff, and trying to sort out the rhetoric.]

OK, I found an important one: a sketch of a node as I envision it conceptually. In 1995 or '96, I had an explanation of the drawing to go with the picture. I remember saying something about nodes as easter eggs. The image of the egg was central to the thematics of it, I remember.

And quilting was important to it, too: assembling meaning from contrasting pasrt, cut into fragments and pieced back together in a different order. (Certainly, we do this when we blog.)

Back when I was in the thick of it, I found myself mostly unable to write conherently about hypertext theory. Others seemed not to share this problem, but my sense of hypertextual structure seemed to me to be preverbal, almost, as though it had more to do with the feel of fabrics on my fingertips or with sensations on my tongue than with critical terminology. I still feel that way. Satisfying hypertextuality is for me a synesthetic experience. (This is why, I think, the name Purple Numbers is such an apt one.)

But, OK, so here I am trying to talk about it. And I feel the need to because there is something deeply unsatisfying to me about linear blogging -- even if we get to make lots of links to news sites and to each other -- that I need to fix. And if I can't articulate, at least to myself, what I want changed, I'm going to have a hard time changing it.

(FYI, pix in this post copyright by Kathryn Cramer. Do not reproduce without permission.)