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Annonated Bibliography 4:

Nielsen, Jakob.  “Applications of Hypertext.”  Hypertext and Hypermedia.  San Diego: Academic Press, 1990.  (chapter 4)

 

Summary

            In this article, Nielsen contrasted how a fiction in hypertext should be different from the traditional text.  The reader should be able to interact with the fictional universe, as he called it, instead of simply in a page-turning mode.

            His idea of an online fiction is where there exists a “shared universe” in which several authors write stories set in the same fictional universe, with the same background and many similar characters.  These in turn are inter-linked through a web-like structure.

            The reader is then free to pursue the type of plot and character which he finds interesting.  Thus, this destroys the authority of the author to determine which section the reader needs to read first.

            As Nielsen put it in another way, the actual story will not have a traditional plot.  Instead, it takes the form of many snapshots of an underlying fictional construction, where the reader discovers, as he read more and more of these snapshots, a clearer picture of the story.  The developments of this story is reliant on the choices the reader made along the way, in a non-sequential manner.

 

Review

This article takes a look at the applications of hypertext in the mind of Jakob Nielsen.

Using various examples of earlier hypertexts created, Nielsen elaborated on the way fictions should be constructed in the hypertext form.  His detailed illustrations using “The Manhole” gave me an insight of how a text can be combined with audio and visual senses to enhance that reading experience.

The reader of a hypertext can be put in the story, by means of interaction with the characters.  He also gets to choose which path to take along the way.  The fictional space is created, with several paths available at every stage, thus giving the reader the task of constructing their own stories as they move through it.  This is somewhat like an exploration.

Barthes’ idea of “writerly" text is presented here in Nielsen’s interpretation.  As the latter presented, hypertexts allow the individual readers to customise their readings to their own needs and learning styles.