[-empyre-] forward from Drew Davidson re: hypertext and database

From: drew davidson <drew@waxebb.com>
this message didnt go through so i am posting it for

Date: Thu, 29 May 2003 07:52:10 -0400
To: empyre@lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
Subject: Re: empyre Digest, Vol 4, Issue 44

been offline line for a bit, but catching up on my
reading... just wanted to chime in along with adrian
and patrick...  i wrote my dissertation as a
hypertextual website, and part of my web of links was
a mapping to a linear format, so like adrian, i had
this huge map of what linked to what and how (susana
tosca's essay "a pragmatics of links"
comes to mind as she notes the lyricism found in the
excessive nature of links) and while i enjoyed my
project, the limits of hypertextual writing with html
inspired me to consider writing with a database... so
i'm currently designing an application to enable a
hypertextual document to be served up from a database
(just looking for a php programmer to help me out with
the implementation of it) but this would allow for
some interesting reformulations of the text and the
links therein with each and every interaction with the


Message: 7
Date: Thu, 29 May 2003 08:24:54 +1000
From: Adrian Miles <adrian.miles@uib.no>
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] various posts
To: soft_skinned_space <empyre@lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
Message-ID: <a05210603bafae51d6dcf@[]>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii" ;

At 8:09 -0500 27/5/03, Patrick Lichty wrote:
>Therefore let me go to a concrete example.  My piece,
Grasping at
>Bits (http://www.voyd.com/gab) is an example of what
I'm talking
>about.  The essay was written as stand-alone lexia
that convey
>concise pieces of information regarding issues of art
>intellectual property in light of the Internet. The
essay was then
>'structured' (in the narrative sense) so that each
paragraph could
>have numerous links, creating an
associative/probabilistic sense of
>flow.  Note that this is very different from a
hyperlink which
>infers a singular link to a given item.  In this
case, I was giving
>4-5 simultaneous links to a given topic.

Like this a lot, and it is an excellent description of
the process of
hypertext being considered hypertextually (or whatever
term you want
to use). As a card carrying hypertext academic I'd
take minor issue
with the idea that they hyperlink infers a singular
connection. This
is the hegemonic form of the link, largely defined via
http and html,
but is not the only sort of link. Apart from other
systems that
provide much more sophisticated possibilities for the
(Storyspace, Tinderbox, Jim Rosenberg's work in
Hypercard, John
Cayley's work in Hypercard all spring to mind) the
xlink standard (a
w3c standard) also provides a more complex idea of the

On a related note, links are always excessive, which
is why people
like Nielsen insist on building prohibitions about
their use. If they
didn't have this excess, then people wouldn't need to
insist on
prohibitions. :-) This is the case even with
'singular' links.

>What does this do to narrative? It takes the link or
the linear
>progression (and I believe that in hyperlinking there
may be
>non-linearity, but it is a distinct causal linkage
taking you from
>one point to another) and creates a narrative 'range'
of relations.
>I've always considered this as a sculptural form of
writing, as I
>_am_ creating a narrative, but in very different
terms than
>traditional hyperlinking.  But that takes it back to
>relations by adding a more haptic element to reading.
In this case,
>narrative flow has been interwoven with the
structure, and the
>structure is part of the HCI.  Perhaps narrative is
breaking down
>and giving rise to a more poetic form, but I would
argue that what
>is happening is the construction of a different form
of narrative.
>I realize that this is an atypical example of the
convergence of
>narrative, structure and HCI, but hope that my
referencing it makes
>more sense.

Enjoyed this, and I'm forwarding it to my hypertext
theory students
who are busy writing essays, much in the manner you
describe, and so
it will be helpful to them. You might be interested in
some recent
work in the hypertext community (Mark Bernstein, David
Millard, and
Mark J. Weal) on sculptural hypertext.

As another example I once wrote an essay in
Storyspace, moved it into
html, then drew a map of the link structure and used
colour to
indicate the link density (links in and out) from each
node. This
meant the reader could read in the manner you've
described Patrick,
or they could use the 'map' which showed some of the
pathways but
more importantly which nodes where 'primary' in terms
of their
density of connection. Was quite an interesting

Anyone else on empyre been writing as Patrick
describes? I'm *very*
interested in academic writing that really does
explore this, rather
than treat links as singular already defined and
evacuated points of

Adrian Miles
+  MelbourneDAC2003 digital arts and culture
+  interactive desktop video developer
+  hypertext rmit [http://hypertext.rmit.edu.au]
+ InterMedia:UiB. university of bergen


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End of empyre Digest, Vol 4, Issue 44


|  drew davidson, ph.d.   
|  assistant professor  
| communications media @ iup
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| mailto:drew@waxebb.com
| mailto:drew@iup.edu      
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