DAlso, don't forget that there is fun in not knowing, in serendipity and re-vision. When is confusion, misdirection, not knowing fun and when is it frustrating? Is the author or reader at fault for the frustration with Finnegan's Wake? Why do some of these texts gain a cult following or critical respect, but not others? It's not just complexity or simplicity-- why do people go for 12-tone music or atonality for that matter, but not for hypertext?
Rob (?) points out that there are visible vs. invisible literacies. Sarah adds that it's also about text vs. language-- people have less trouble with graphic (multimedia) hypertext than with blocks of text. Ann wonders whether it's just the level to which the reader can cop out of having to figure it out. When is it a matter of "fixing" the interface, and when do you want not to? A diagram (say, architectural) still contains some intentional and unintentional ambiguity.
We then looked at argument. There's some use in understanding and displaying intermediate structures, the way we're thinking in the midst of an argument, before we've completed a design. A final product inevitably has had questions decided or choices made that we may want to reconsider or present as questions. There's the idea of a second choice, which might be better for another context. We can represent that ambiguity in hypertext by hiding alternatives, or revealing them. There's no reason not to put other viewpoints in.
Aren't there issues with presenting meta or side conversations in a publshed hypertext, though? Is there a way to present it that's not ironic?
UVA has a new imprint for electronic scholarship in the humanities.
Links can contain a lot of information. It's a challenge for any given interface or presentation to incorporate that liminal data into the narrative flow. You could use tooltips for mouseovers. In a linear presentation you could put link text between the contents of the lexia. What you want to do (often) is telegraph that you'll be sending someone (through a link) somewhere else... especially if it's outside your text. And in this context, it's worth thinking about what outside means. By linking resources you bring them into your own text to some extent... but don't have editorial control over them.
Then we thought about intermediate levels of "telegraphy". You don't always want to give perfect information about where a link goes because you risk the reader assuming they understand or not being interested: and they won't follow your link. Yet you don't want to leave a reader stumped as to where to go or wandering aimlessly (unless that's your goal) because then they're lost. One neat idea is to create indeterminate links or links that can be hidden or revealed according to some level of exploration that the reader is willing to undertake. They could set their willingness to stray from a topic, or stay within an area. I brought up the hypertext in which I colored links according to link type (definition or explanation).
Do you need guardfields or programmingto enforce argument, structure, or complexity?
Understanding narrative shape is even more critical to new readers.
How about random entry into a hypertext-- when someone drops into your website, how do they get context, a sense of where they are, and whether their interest in the page they're on translates to an interest in the rest of your site? Short of framing (sidebars, logos and explanatory text), you could present a pop-up window if the referrer doesn't match your own site, you can have textual breadcrumbs, and you could present a tiny icon of a map which is linked to a larger map.
How do you represent where the reader is in the larger argument (which may or may not map onto the site map?
Don't forget that when it comes to hypertext, most readers are "children"... they need to know strategies.