Dispersed, Open, Play

"In hypertext systems, links within and without a text--intratextual and intertextual connections between points of text (lexias, including images)--become equivalent, thus bringing texts closer together and weakening or reconfiguring the boundaries among them (Hypertext 2.0 80)."
"To try to resist the removal of a textual number from its context is to want to remain protected against this writing poison. It is to want at all costs to maintain the boundary line between the inside and outside of a context. It is to recognize the legitimacy of the relative specificity of each text, but it is also to believe that any system of writing exists in itself, as the relation of an inside to itself, particularly when it is "true." This amounts above all to an imposition of fundamentally classical limits upon generalized textuality. It is a kind of discontinuity prompted by resistance and protectionism (Dissemination 316)."

Hypertext can be observed to demonstrate differance in two general capacities. One of these is located in its role as a deference mechanism, which finds its embodiment in the trace. Recall that Derrida introduces the trace as an endless chain of supplements that continuously replicate and refer back to one another, as part of the whole meaning-making process. Where a print text would tend to keep strict boundaries between itself and other texts, whether through its rhetoric or through the isolated physical form of the book, a hypertext system can revel in the network. It can dissolve its own borders and accept interventions of other, related texts into the vast digital space. Historical, generic, or cultural contexts that would be obscured in the print text can be illuminated in hypertext. Traces can thus be made back through the written milieu, through the signifiers, giving a richer understand of the main text's place in a grander textual scheme. Links make it possible to "hide" enormous amounts of extra text beneath a single highlighted word, thus eliminating any major disruption in the main text. Hypertext writers may choose to be especially vague about any allusions they might be making in the main text and leave it to the reader to explore her way through these references. This could serve as a source of interest and pleasure for enthusiastic readers, if not a source of frustration for readers with different tastes.

Cyberspace Web Main screen critical theory (click on Derrida to return to Overviews)