This blog post is in response to Question 7, relating to the impact of widespread publication and hypertext on literature and story.
The internet has provided many ‘new frontiers’ in the world of literature: eBooks are rising in popularity, and digital libraries allow anyone to freely access information that once was contained to brick-and-mortar establishments. One aspect of digital literature is of particular interest in the context of a blog-based course: the world of ‘self-publishing’. This idea of ‘self-publishing’ can manifest in many ways: aspiring writers can publish on Amazon, Facebook makes it easy to share everything, and anyone can publicize their opinions through blogging platforms like WordPress or Tumblr. Many people criticize self-publishing: though traditional publishing is highly regulated, anyone can self-publish their work if they so desire. While some may argue that unregulated publications decrease the worth of available online literature, I fully disagree. Regulation of literature can very easily lead to overzealous censorship, and the opinions of the individuals in charge of regulating literature do not necessarily reflect those of the general public. Self-publication creates a fascinating online environment in which no one idea is of objective greater worth than another, and allows marginalized and non-normative stories the potential to flourish.
Similarly, the rise of hypertext within digital media is extremely fascinating. To preface this, before I decided to take English 470, I devoted no time or energy to the idea of hyperlinks. I’d occasionally get sucked deep into VICE’s article archives through their hyperlinking network, but that was pretty much the extent of my experience. The attention to hypertext within the parameters of this course has spread to other aspects of my online life, and as such, I have noticed two particularly interesting facets of hyperlinking in relation to digital literature and media.
The first element of hypertext I have noticed is that it adds to the immediate nature of our internet consumption. No longer do we have to copy a link and paste it into a new window—we can just click a phrase or sentence and instantly delve into new, contextualized information. I admit that I am much more likely to explore a hyperlinked source than a traditionally-referenced one because of its streamlined simplicity, and this immediacy enriches my digital media experience by exposing me to new ideas that I likely wouldn’t have accessed otherwise.
The second element of hypertext I have noticed is in complete contrast to its immediacy of consumption. Hyperlinks provide direct access to relevant information, but this access is layered, available only for those interested enough to pursue it. This is reminiscent of the endnotes and footnotes of paper books (the first example that comes to mind is Infinite Jest’s elaborate, 100+ page endnotes-within-endnotes system), which gives the dedicated reader a more complex learning experience than if they were to stick to the surface-level text. Hyperlinking is fascinating because it simultaneously makes our digital media experience easier to access and more challenging to comprehend, allowing the digital media user to control the extent and depth of their own online world. Both hyperlinking and self-publishing aid in creating an uninhibited informative experience, and enable stories that may have otherwise stayed silent to finally be heard.
“Digital Public Library of America.” Digital Public Library of America. Web. 20 May 2015.
Wendig, Chuck. “Self-Publishing Is Not The Minor Leagues.” Terrible Minds. 27 Jan. 2014. Web. 20 May 2015.
“Magazine Archive | VICE | Canada.” VICE. Web. 20 May 2015.
Russillo, Steve. “Steve’s Infinite Jest Utilities Page.” Steve Russillo’s Maundering Mess. 9 Dec. 2012. Web. 20 May 2015.