Hypertext vs. codex vs. something else

I’m still not exactly sure what a hypertext is except for it being a text that has some sort of multimedia imbedded within it. I really liked Shelly Jackson’s¬†My Body-A Wunderkammer¬†because it forced you to click on different parts of the text to get to other parts to figure out the entire story. You can’t get the entire story by just clicking on the parts of the image (the body parts). This was really interesting, but it still seemed really text heavy, but I’m guessing that’s the point.

It just seems to me that if we are trying to do things differently, simply putting a block of text on a screen doesn’t make things any different than reading it in a book. Realistically, it’s harder (for me, at least) to read lots of text on a screen. For example, I chose not to print out the readings for today (Tuesday’s) class and found that I had a huge problem with focusing on the screen and with comprehending what I read. The most interesting part of the reading was the picture of the image from the museum of the Codex, which I found to be a really beautiful and profound image. Along these lines, it was interesting that the authors of the articles are arguing for different types of media, yet they are still writing big blocks of text that just happens to be put in an online space.

But then again, what can we do differently? The Kindle has revolutionize the eBook industry, but it’s still a book that has been transposed into a different medium. There’s nothing special about eBooks (as of yet). For example, you can’t click on a link and it takes you somewhere else online with images of certain things or to the archive of the original text. You can click on a word and get a definition, highlight and make notes, but other than eTextbooks being cheaper than print editions, what’s the point?

6 thoughts on “Hypertext vs. codex vs. something else

  1. Regarding the ebook enclosure, I wonder if that is a technical or an imaginative barrier? I “think” that it’s quite trivial to write external hyperlinks into an ebook (at least several of the non-Amazon owned formats). My guess is that there’s a fear of doing so, since it’s the equivalent of inviting a TV viewer to reach for the remote. But why is this different than the web?

  2. I totally hear you when you say focusing on the screen for long periods of time can be really frustrating. I get some serious migraines going- so I can understand why hypertext can be somewhat of an issue. But I also just felt like it was really cool to have to keep clicking on different links to get different pieces of the story. And I also liked that they weren’t in any particular order, they just kind of existed on their own, but as a whole at the same time.

    • Kaitlin,

      I also liked that there wasn’t a clear order, so I had to be active in reading the text and investigating where all the links led, which was like a game. And as we discussed in class, if we printed it out, how would we put it all back together. Could we even do that? Or do we want to? Does something get lost when it’s put back into a linear structure? I think that it is.

  3. Alexi, it seems to me that we both point to the fact that there are more questions than answers in terms of the digital codex being “too dependent” on the model of the innovatory successes of the physical codex. While I agree that readers’ engagement is still found wanting in respect to the levels of engagement with a physical codex (and it’s, actually, a scientifically-proven point that readers’ neural activity is higher with the physical codex), I wonder how we can look at things differently and see the positive aspects: Just as the physical codex’s successes and impacts on culture and cultural consciousness depended (and still depend) on the circulation of ideas afforded by the print industry–especially the invention of the steam-power printing press–doesn’t this also mean that the digital codex opens spaces for creative potential, not to mention economic potential, communal interdependence and near-global collaboration, and (among others) hermeneutic potential? But, there’s always that futility of attempting to translate the physical codex and its features into digital form. It seems we need to move beyond this process of translation.

    • Nick,

      I agree that there are some positives and that it is easy to focus on the problematic aspects of digital anything. However, like the transition from oral to print manuscript, manuscript to book/codex (with the printing press), maybe now there needs to be a different medium in the digital world. We (I mean this globally) seem to rely on the writing traditions of paragraphs and long essays, even in the digital world, but do we need to change the writing form as we move to a digital world? Dr. Sherwood seemed to be suggesting something like this in class, but I don’t know if we all want to completely move away from the traditions of writing that we know. However, would a redefinition of writing in the digital world “solve” some of the problems? I don’t know, but it seems like it would be better than just taking a book and putting it online in the same type of format.

  4. Nick, Alexi,
    In the history of new medias, there are typically phases where the emergent form attempts to simulate what are effectively retro elements of the older form. This is usually superseded. Hence, early manuscript culture carries over many aspects of oral literature, some of which only make sense when one is in need of memorizing a text. The chapter structure of the novel carries over the conventions of serialized publication. TV carried over certain aspects of Radio. So, we can be especially alert to the anachronistic replications (like the page turn) which will probably be displaced by somethign else, maybe preferable maybe not!

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