Innovating the Reader

"Hypertext, which links one block of text to myriad others, destroys that physical isolation of the text, just as it destroys the attitudes created by that isolation. Because hypertext systems permit a reader both to annotate an individual text and to link it to other, perhaps contradictory texts, it destroys one of the most basic characteristics of the printed text--its separation and univocality (Hypertext 2.0 83)."

"I contend that the history of information technology from writing to hypertext reveals an increasing democratization or dissemination of power. Writing begins this process, for by exteriorizing memory it converts knowledge from the possession of one to the possession of more than one (Hypertext in Hypertext)."

Given Bahktin's account of ideology, it is possible to speculate about hypertextss tremendous potential in exposing people a greater diversity of these worldviews. This has both to do with the shaping of personal beliefs, and with habitual patterns of interpreting meaning. The link and the network can supply an enormous congeries of interacting discourses that check, undercut, and support each other. In terms of "assimilation," the reader has a greater variety to choose from. In terms of internalizing ideology, the reader is presented with a constellation of new contexts and challenges against which to fashion highly unique interpretations of the word and the world. Furthermore, if the reader is allowed to append his/her own comments to the text itself, floods of individuated ideologies will be disseminated back into the cultural sphere, in turn perpetuating and expanding the plurality of discourses to ultimately transform reading into a practice that is always critical, always fluctuating, and always creative.

Cyberspace Web Main screen critical theory