Hypertext is a story in which the reader is actively choosing the plot or direction they should like it to go. Seeing as hypertext is a fairly new addition to the humanities, there were several scholars who disagreed on whether or not hypertext is an advancement for the humanities. Their arguments are that because this is a digital story it is not authentic. In this short essay, I will be providing background for the hypertext, "Vampirate" from "The 100 Flash Fiction Hypertext." Additionally, I will define hypertext using descriptions from other sources; and subsequently I will be examining its definition.
The 100 Flash Fiction Hypertexts stories are essentially a collection of hypertext scenarios. The eighty-fourth story, Vampirate is a hypertext fictional story. The main character, the Pirate, describes his experience meeting a vampire while on a voyage. Further, he is assured that he has brought enough supplies to sustain himself throughout his journey. The pirate introduced the reader to his wife, Renata, the woman who pretended to love the sea, and he soon speculated that she did not love him. He described their relationship as pretense and a misconception between them. He also mentioned that when she was bored she “had a way of shutting off her ears.” The pirate mentioned that they had a marriage but lived separately. He alluded to the fact that she left him because he could not give her the wealth that she desired. In which case she divorced him. The lawyer that initiated the divorce was able to get her “the house, the new car, alimony, and a portion of my business that I’m still trying to buy out .” He then described his daily routine and experiences while being on the seas. The pirate began his day at two a.m. Besides this, he explained that he would wake up from nightmares which would lead him to look for comfort on his ship. For him, this was, “Images [that] would float inside my mind as if through deep blue depths of the ocean.”
In the article, You Say You Want a Revolution? Hypertext and the Laws of Media hypertext are defined as “a complex network of textual elements. It consists of units or ‘nodes,’ which may be analogous to pages, paragraphs, sections, or volumes.” (Moulthrop) Moreover, the nodes are connected through links. (Moulthrop) Further, the links connect the first page to the next. Following this step, clicking the link automatically retrieves the text which comes after the previous page. Furthermore, Theodor Holm Nelson called the linked texts “docuverse.” (Moulthrop) Because this is not a physical book, there is permittance to personalise the story at will. Nelson defined hypertext as having different branches that would allow the reader to experience an interactive story. (Landow) These branch links offer the reader alternate storylines. (Landow) More specifically, “all hypertext systems permit the individual reader to choose his or her own center of investigation and experience. What this principle means in practice is that the reader is not locked into any kind of particular organization or hierarchy” (Landow)
As stated above, digital writing differs from writing on paper. This is due to the digital and physical properties that are present in both. (Glazier) Furthermore, the differences lie in the material and physical properties. In which, “The most interesting of these are not static properties … but properties that relate to the malleability of the electronic text. These are properties that inject the un-predictable into the work. Such a work always spins away from its author or reader … spirals uncontrollably off-topic.” (Glazier) However, the hypertext structure is far more complicated than what was already indicated. More specifically, there are six different types of hypertext systems. These include Hyperwave or Hyper-G which is a document that manages different systems for larger information systems. (Glazier) Second, the Microcosm is the way in which small documents or computer codes into larger files. (Glazier) Holistic hypertext is essentially the authorisation and creation of the WWW URL code. (Glazier) Xanadu was a web system that is fundamentally the first version of the internet or web system. (Glazier) Storyspace is an environment or system for writing which works alongside, complicated larger hypertexts. (Glazier) Lastly, the World Wide Web, which is the most popular system that serves the needs of other people’s interests. (Glazier)
Thus, Vampirate explains a story about the hardships of living on the seas. Additionally, the reason this story was interactive was because of the complex use of different systems that work collectively to create an interactive story. Hypertext is a new and interesting way of conveying a story. Especially because hypertexts stories are interactive, the reader is able to create their own story.
Glazier, Loss Pequeño. Digital Poetics: The Making of e-Poetries: Loss Pequeño Glazier. University of Alabama Press, 2002.
Landow, George P. Hypertext: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology. Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1992.
Moulthrop, Stuart. “You Say You Want a Revolution? Hypertext and the Laws of Media.” Postmodern Culture, vol. 1, no. 3, 1991, https://doi.org/10.1353/pmc.1991.0019.