"When compared to text as it exists in print technology, forms of hypertext evince varying combinations of atomization and dispersal. Unlike the spatial fixity of text reproduced by means of book technology, electronic text always has variation, for no one state or version is ever final; it can always be changed. . . Even without linking, therefore, electronic text abandons the fixity that characterizes print and that provides some of its most important effects on Western culture (Hypertext 2.0 64)."
"Since hypertext and hypermedia are chiefly defined by the link, a writing device that offers potential changes of direction, the rhetoric and stylistics of this new information technology generally involve such change--potential or actual change of place, relation, or direction (Hypertext 2.0 124)."
Hypertext lexias are an ideal manifestation of differance. In one main respect, the text is fragmented. Since hypertext is designed for endless variation in reading paths, lexias require a certain degree of self-enclosure, or shall we say, self-presence in order to make sense in manifold combinations with other lexias. The hypertext lexia requires enough differentiation to be autonomous and distinct from the rest of the text. This facilitates variation because the lexia would be loosened from contextual bounds. It is hardly possible to extract a paragraph in a traditional novel or essay, place it at another spot in the text, and expect the narrative to flow continuously, without conspicuous disruption. Hypertext thrives on sequential mutability, however. Lexias must then read as a relatively complete unit, opening with sufficient introductory material in its beginning lines, to ease the arrival experience, and ending with some shred of closure in its final words as a send off to other points in the text (exceptions here include links placed and followed in the lexia's body). Something of a tradeoff is suggested here, and should be addressed directly: navigational freedom requires some dissociation between all lexias, lest the text should be confined to linear narrativity; at the same time, the reader will experience a certain degree of disorientation every time a link is traveled. The challenge for the hypertext writer is to decide on just how much difference--just how much disorientation--would be appropriate to incorporate for his/her own authorial needs.