Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Journal 3 for Computers and Composition: The Problem with Bolter's Logic

Perhaps one of the major problems in Bolter’s explanation of hypertext is that instead of defining what it is, he defines what it does. In this manner, it makes it harder to separate what he considers hypertext from preexisting definitions of hypertext, such as those used in a hypertext markup language (HTML). He also uses the Cartesian method of explaining hypertext by what it is not. For example, hypertext, to Bolter, is non-linear, unlike a book, which follows a linear plot order. He also attempts to argue that the book is becoming less popular as a means of publication because of the accesability of internet publishing, but contradicts himself in stating that “Both as authors and as readers, we still regard books and journals as the place to locate our most prestigious texts” (Bolter 3). However, as we see with the library at this university, it is becoming simplier to find a full print journal as a pdf file or e-book, affectively cutting out the need to host years of printed paper journals on the shelves. Are these e-books hypertext as Bolter means the word? I find it hard to dissemilate what he means from what he says. Perhaps with this seperation of printed word and thought Bolter attempting to redefine what he means by hypertext, but I’m still not quite sure of his meaning. I know what the HTML coding does for building, but is this hypertext of links and pages what he means when he talks about hypertext media? If he means the hypertext language of the internet as a means of remediating the language of the printed book, can’t he just say that? Does he have to bury it in literary metaphors and theory of what it should be? Not everything is a metaphor or theory. I think it’s this abstraction that helps to distract readers from an accurate definition of his point.

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