The Changing Spaces of Reading and Writing

Commentary # 2: Multiple Intelligences, Hypertext and Hypermedia: Are They Connected?

Commentary # 2: Multiple Intelligences, Hypertext and Hypermedia: Are they Connected?

by  Delphine Williams Young

ETEC 540       University of British Columbia    November 15, 2009


The continuation of the remediation of print in human history as explored by David Bolter (2001) implies that humans are always engaged in the process of configuring ways to improve the transmission of information and ideas. Bolter suggests a tension between visual and print modes that is also continuing in education, despite the unregulated and unstructured journey from medieval iconography to print, then to photographic and electronic visual presentation. “It is interesting to speculate how photography, film, television and multimedia might have been developed and used, if Western cultures could somehow have jumped over the technology of printing and gone directly from iconography to photographic and electronic visual presentation” (Bolter, p.55). According to Bolter, visual technologies had to struggle to highlight themselves within a culture of prose and the earlier verbal rhetoric. (p. 55). Could it be that this recursive pattern somehow connected to the way in which Howard Gardner (1993) represents human intelligence? Could it be the source of this disorganized development of writing technologies?

     Gardner’s theory emerged from cognitive research and suggests that there are seven multiple intelligences which can be used to describe the way humans perceive and interact with the world as intelligent beings, which are the: linguistic, logical mathematical, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, spatial-visual, interpersonal and intrapersonal ( (Mckenzie, 2005). Despite documenting these seven, Gardner suggests that there are others which he attempts to describe in his later work but these seven have been useful to educators. They help to determine individual differences and have allowed many teachers to target their learners effectively. Could it be that the shifting which has been taking place throughout the ages, which Bolter articulates as “a process of cultural competition between or among technologies” (p.23), be as a result of the various different individuals possessing varied multiple intelligences? Bolter suggests that the shift which occurs as remediation usually takes place when new technology replaces an older one by “borrowing and reorganizing the characteristics of writing in the older medium and reforming its cultural space” (p. 23). The writing done on papyrus remediated oral communication by allowing for the eyes and ears to be involved and so giving the words “a different claim to reality” ( p.23). The persons involved in effecting this remediation all possess a very constant variable, their humanity. With an application of  Gardner’s theory there is a very likely possibility, in addition to the human desire to improve on existing technologies, that many of the inventors and innovators throughout history possessed varied learning styles which propelled them to add and subtract in order to arrive at technologies which seem to address all seven multiple intelligences. Hypertext is one such technology.

     In this century, “hypertext”, according to Bolter, is not without hypermedia which offers so much more to the reader than the printed word. Bolter sees it as offering a “second challenge to the printed book” (p.47).  The current old fashioned print which may seem like simple and natural communication, at this cultural moment, especially to those who are perhaps not digitally literate, in comparison to the electronic hypertext might not seem so in the years to come. It might actually more natural for some information to be represented as hypertext (Bolter, p. 46). An examination of hypertext reveals that all the multiple intelligences are represented in the way the technologies are combined. I say combined whilst Bolter proclaims ‘remediation.’ For linguistic learners which learn through words and language there is text to be read and to be responded to by the user. There are logic and numbers to be manipulated by the logical-mathematical learner. Sound, music and rhythm are available and easily accessed for those who are musically oriented. Images and spaces are varied for spatial learners. According to Sherry Turkle (2004) “[f]or some people cyberspace is a place to act out unresolved conflicts, to pay and replay characterological difficulties on a new and exotic stage” (p. 23). Virtual communities offer opportunities for adolescents and young adults to interact anonymously with different identities in an attempt to concretize their own sense of self. Both the interpersonal and the intrapersonal intelligences are catered for as individuals interact with each other using the above media.  Finally, the bodily-kinesthetic is addressed in two ways. The tools and equipment are handled in the process of using them and there are visual media which portray motion that the user can get involved in. An example of hypertext combined with hypermedia which is can be recognized as the World Wide Web. 

     Whilst Bolter cites several educational theorists who have examined the effectiveness of hypertext and hypermedia as new dialogic forms, he also recognizes that the academic community is showing reluctance to participate in some of the refashioning that writing technologies have undergone. The World Wide Web that I find very useful is sometimes rejected as not having material of high calibre. Bolter also points out that popular culture which includes “the business and entertainment world and most users have shown little interest in a serious critique of digital media, but they are all eager to use digital technology to extend and remake forms of representation and communication” (p.118). If the hypertext and hypermedia have remediated print to the extent that they are capable of addressing all the various multiple intelligences, then educators need to embrace them as they did the multiple intelligences, then the quality of instruction will improve and learning will be maximized. The experience that educators had while learning the original classic works will change, and continue to undergo change, so rather than resist the change educators will have to join in and become digitally literate. A   book though not able to address all human needs will still be easier to carry and handle than an electronic one will. This does not change the idea that educators need to listen to the inner voice of the students like these.




Bolter, D. J. (2001). Writing Space Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbalm Associates.

Gardner, H. (1993). Frames of the Mind: The Theory of Multiple of Intelligences. New York : Basic Books.

Mckenzie, W. (2005). Multiple Intelligences and Instructional Technology. Washington: iste Publications.

Turkle, S. (2004). Whither Psychoanalysis in Computer Culture. Psychoanalytic Psychology , 16-30.

Worchester. T. (2009). Multiple Intelligences and Technology. Retrieved from


1 Delphine Williams-Young { 11.15.09 at 8:37 pm }

This is commentary #2

2 Clare Roche { 11.29.09 at 8:40 am }

I think you are right, but I wonder where we should begin.

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