This assignment has 2 parts. You will submit both parts in this assignment. You may do it in one file or separate them into two files.
Part 1: Hypertext Notes
Part 2: Hypertext Essay (you MUST include at least 3 hyperlinks in your essay)
Hypertext is writing on the web that incorporates the use of hyperlinks. This is its main distinguishing feature, and what makes it different from regular writing. While we read most book text or papertext from top to bottom, left to right, front to back, we don’t necessarily read hypertext in the same linear way.
Hypertext is read differently by each reader. Therefore each hypertext document continues to change. The reader is as much a part of the writing as the writer in making meaning. Read the following analogy to better understand.
You’re on a nature walk—a “papertext” nature walk. It’s linear. The park committee has created a trail that begins and ends at the parking lot. You begin at the meadow and the prairie flowers and follow the signs, continuing on the path as you’ve been directed. You stop to read the signs pointing out such things as a 200-year-old oak tree, a butterfly house, an eagle’s nest and so on. While you learn a lot and see a lot, the path you’re on was designed for you by the park committee or the “writer.” Your friend who came on this walk with you, took pretty much the same walk. You may have looked at the trillium a bit longer than she did, shenoticed a woodpecker that you missed. However, overall, you saw all the same things; you stepped over all the same tree roots in the path. You took the same linear walk. This is pretty much what happens when we read a papertext.
Now you’re on a “hypertext” nature walk. You start at the parking lot, just like you did on the papertext nature walk. However, this trail is different. This trail has hyperlinks to nature parks all over the world and reference books and virtual places in history and all kinds of things that defy time and space. On this walk, you stop to see that same 200-year-old oak tree, but instead of reading about it and continuing on, you decide you want to learn more about ancient species of trees. So you click on the hyperlink (click your heels like Dorothy) and you are transported through time and space to a lecture on forests (a web page) from which you learn all about ancient trees. This is so interesting to you that you decide to click your heels again and go to India to see banyan trees.
While your friend went to the lecture on ancient trees with you, she is not that interested in banyan trees. She also thinks it will be too hot in India, so she clicks her heels and goes back to the old oak tree. She continues on the path awhile until she comes to the eagle’s nest. She wishes she could see into it, up there so high, and she realizes that if she clicks her heels, she will be able to view the streaming eagle cam, a nature camera set up to show eagle eggs hatching in real time (though there is also a taped version that she can watch in fast motion). So, she’s on her way to view a spectacular aerie while you’re gazing up at an amazing banyan tree.
You started out together on the same path (the same home page), but you ended up clicking on different links that took you literally worlds apart through time and space. Where you went once you opened that first page of hypertext was determined more by you (the reader) than by the writer. It was based on what you wanted or needed to know. This is how hypertext works. The path is not necessarily linear.
Since hypertext is being read on a computer screen, it is generally more tiring reading. Additionally, people have grown accustomed to reading small bits of information quickly, assessing satisfaction (do I like/need this or not?) just as quickly, and moving on. In the same way that reading hypertext is different from reading papertext, it is also true that writing hypertext is different from writing papertext.
When you make hyperlinks, you must consider what your reader already knows (or what you think he or she knows). You also have to think about what information your reader might need in order to understand what you are writing.
Will a word need to be defined?
Could a link to background information help?
In addition to having the responsibility of organizing hypertext in a careful, logical manner with logical, easy-to-navigate links (that work), hypertext writers also need to be concise (not wordy). Good hypertext writers also must incorporate more traditional aspects of good writing:
Writing hypertext presents some new challenges to writers, but it is also fun and represents a new way of thinking about a very old human experience.
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