Linearity, nonlinearity, and multilinearity

In one important sense all our experiences of hypertexts are linear: each reading of a hypertext necessarily takes place in time and is therefore takes form as a sequence. No matter how many link choices we have, we have to read individual lexias in linear order.

Written or printed texts are linear in two senses: (1) they present matter-to-be-read in a linear order and (2) they are generally read more or less in sequential order, in a sequence. (Printed texts with end- or footnotes, however, present a multisequential order, though, of course, they must be read linearly or sequentially.) Hypertexts differ from scholarly footnoted texts, therefore, in the degree to which they demand a multisequential reading experience. One can read an end- or footnoted text as a fundamentally linear text by ignoring the notes or citations; one cannot read a hypertext at all by ignoring the links.

Cyberspace Web Information technology Hypertext

Last updated: 19 August 2002