Hypertext and the Library

Hi everyone,

I’ve created an interactive fiction for my major project. Here’s the link!


Please enjoy. Any feedback is welcomed!

Web-space is a boundless writing space that holds limitless amount of information. Our ability to copy, paste, and tag information revolutionized the way information is referenced and organized. My interactive fiction attempts to compare the way information is organized within the web-space in the form of hypertext with that of print stored in the library.

Affordances of hypertext

Hypertext is “the dynamic interconnection of a set of symbolic elements” which includes text, pictures, icons and more. (Bolter 2001, p38) The clouds in my interactive fiction demonstrate some of the affordances of hypertext, including interactivity (associative links can be created so that readers choose to read more about relevant topics), and malleability (the possibility of taking parts of different pieces of work and “remixing” with one’s own idea to produce something new). Because of these affordances and also because everyone can contribute information to the Web, the amount of information available in hypertext form is increasing exponentially.

Information organization

Bolter claims that the library’s catalogue system has “reorganized” the “single physical hierarchy” as information can be searched on the electronic catalogue system under key word in title, author, and topic. However, access to the text is restricted by its physical location.

Hypertext allows information to be organized in a revolutionary way because the information can be tagged with keywords by the author, and the keywords can exist in various locations under multiple categories, without the physical restriction of printed text. (Bolter, p92)

My interactive fiction shows how the word “needle” can bring up a wealth of information related to the subject. Different media such as videos, text, and images can all be organized under the same space. It is almost like shelving multiple media on one shelf.

Hypertext and the Library

Since the amount of information in hypertext is growing more quickly and referenced more frequently than that of printed text, a lot of literature explore the effect of how this information will revolutionize the library. According to Eric Hellman who spent 12 years developing technologies for libraries, the rise of hypertext and the internet present both competitions and opportunities for libraries. With free internet access, today’s libraries provide “a much larger swath of knowledge than a pre-internet library,” and so far, “libraries continued to attract funding from institutions and communities, while many measures of library usage have showed steady increases.” (Hellman 2010, p23) Print is here to stay because writers still aspire for their work to be published in print, and some readers prefer printed text for cover-to-cover reading. (van der Velde and Ernst 2009) As long as there is demand for printed text, library will co-exist with the web-space.

The background represents the web-space, and the library is an area within the web-space represented by a piece of paper. Library exists within the web-space because the library provides web access.  The library is a “hybrid” of printed text with computer terminals for access to the cyberspace. (Bolter 2001, p93)


Bolter, J. David. Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2001. Print.

Hellman, Eric. “Libraries, Ebboks, and Competition.” Library Journal (2010). Web. 27 Nov. 2010. <http://www.libraryjournal.com/lj/communitylibraryculture/885871-271/libraries_ebooks_and_competition.html.csp>.

Olaf, Ernst, and Wouter Van Der Velde. “The Future of EBooks? Will Print Disappear? An End-user Perspective.” Web. 27 Nov. 2010. <http://biecoll.ub.uni-bielefeld.de/volltexte/2010/5004/pdf/ernst_final_rd.pdf>.

Wesch, Michael. “Information R/evolution.” TechCrunch. 12 Oct. 2007. Web. 29 Nov. 2010. <http://techcrunch.com/2007/10/20/information-revolution/>.

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