Chasing Our Tails 10/5/04
- Hypertext by Mark Bernstein
This is the best response that I've seen to Sven Birkerts' The Gutenberg Elegies. It is a thorough excoriation of the state of hypertext criticism. It circles around how criticism of (literary) hypertext is more often a statement of the critic's fears and ambitions than an examination of actual work. It explains in the most articulate manner that I've seen yet why recurrence, repetition, and circles in hypertext are a feature, not a bug: that we learn by connecting something we have just discovered with something we already understand, and that doing so involves revisiting what we have heard.
Wonderfully, the elegant structure of the text itself also demonstrates that point. I visited most of the lexia in this text more than once, and for once didn't mind... each page was illuminated from a different direction by the context of the link that I followed.
And it 'ends' with a call to action, and a good one. My pulse was actually raised by reading this little hypertext, and it began to tie many other works together. And did Mark Bernstein really propose the term breadcrumb as it is used in hypertext?