Language and Technology

"A fully implemented embodiment of a networked hypertext system such as I have described obviously creates empowered readers, ones who have more power relative both to the texts they read and to the authors of these texts . . . This pattern of relative empowerment, which we must examine with more care and some skepticism, appears to support the notion that the logic of information technologies, which tends toward increasing dissemination of knowledge, implies increasing democratization and decentralization of power (Hypertext in Hypertext)."

Language is one of the most powerful and pervasive of all social institutions. By attesting to the existence of enduring cultural codes that comprise the basic fabric of all literature, Roland Barthes sheds light on the degree to which "language speaks us." Mikhail Bahktin even goes so far as to suggest that "Unitary" language, or formal language abstracted from a dialogic setting, only tends to eliminate the local dialects, which might serve to define and unify minority communities. By excluding small-scale collective variation of language from representation in literature, pluralism is displaced. Derrida seems especially aware of the somewhat restrictive and habituating capacities of language, and devotes much of his intellectual energy to liberating the act of signification from the word itself. George P. Landow describes hyptertext's potential to democratize by facilitating the faster and farther-reaching spread of information. Yet Hypertext, it seems, also just might carry with it the promise of a re-appropriation of language by the reading population. Giving readers the agency to creatively construct meaning and explore innovative modes of interpretation just might engender a flood of new idiomatic styles, and broaden the wiles of creative human consciousness.

Cyberspace Web Main screen critical theory