Comentary # 2: Hypertext as the Remediation of Print

In the Chapter “Writing as a Technology” Bolter argues that our technical relationship to the writing space takes place between readers and writers. Literacy is the realization that language can have both a visual and an aural dimension as the words emitted by some one can be recorded and shown to others who are not present at the time of recording (Bolter, 2002, p. 16). Technical and cultural dimensions of writing constitute text as a technology because it depends on the purposes of each culture and on the material properties of the techniques and devices that are used.

In the evolution of text today we are facing the change between print and electronic writing (hypertext). According to Bolter, hypertext is changing attitudes towards writing. The Web is changing so fast that it is difficult to predict its future impact (Smith & Ward, 2000). Other dimensions and other spaces are taking place within communication. These new forms constitute a challenge for Western identity and self-representation (Smith & Ward, 2000, p. 106). Within this transformation, we are experiencing remediation understood as a “process of cultural competition between or among technologies” (Bolter, 2002, p. 25).

Throughout history, innovations in text technologies have provoked the remediation of reading and writing. Currently we are facing the remediation of print, which includes the free interaction and combination of digital media and words. Over the 20th century print has entered in competition and combination of images, video and TV. Electronic text is more interactive and flexible than print, in words of Bolter, is hypertextual (Bolter, 2002, p. 26). According to Puntambekar (et. al., 2004) visual components of text, such as concept maps (which are intended to represent meaningful relationships between concepts) and networks, offer learning opportunities of reading and writing. These new technologies of text allow accentuating relevant characteristics of representation and making higher-order relations.

In the chapter “The Breakout of the Visual”, Bolter arugues that digital text has carried out revealing transformations in vocabulary and grammar. Hypertext has brought a redefinition of the way in which we communicate, specially regarding to organization and design of text. According to Bolter (2002), a webpage can be a scattering of alphabetic signs among visual components that addresses the writer and reader without references of speech. Graphical User Interface (GUI) constitutes such a text and integrates visual components to redefine both how text is organized and designed. The ways in which we present content, and the tools that we use for this purpose (.e.g. PreziAnimotoGlogster), also redefine both how text is organized and designed.

Bolter argues that printing has placed the word effectively in control of the image. Before print medieval society had developed a sophisticated iconography that served in the place of words for a largely illiterate audience. However, the literate population of Middle Ages was quite smaller than the current literate population. Today, hypertext has redefined the relationship between words and images. Image is a complementary element of text. The visual component has entered in our lives by the electronic writing space. In hypertext media designers and authors redefine the balance between word and image. The latter constitutes the remediation of print: a space in which images can break free of the constraint of words and tell their own stories (Bolter, 2000, p. 58).

In the article “Gains and losses: New forms of texts, knowledge, and learning”, Gunther Kress (2005) argues that practices of writing and reading are transforming. New forms of representation leads us to more new forms of communication: “canonical forms of representation have come into question; the dominant modes of representation of speech and writing are being pushed to the margins of representation and replaced at the centre by the mode of image and by others” (Kress, 2005, p. 17). New practices of reading and writing are emerging from the engagement of text with image and/or depiction. Within this engagement the reader designs the meaning from materials made available on the screen, on the new kinds of pages.

Kress discuss about the possible gains and losses when moving from representation through writing to representation through image. According to Kress (2005) we are experiencing realignment in culturally valued modes. Writing is being displaced by image in many instances of communication where previously it had dominated. We are experiencing a revolution of the modes of representation and of the media of dissemination. There have been changes in the way in which pages were organized and how they were designed. With the electronic text, the new organizing principle of this new page is the shape of the life-worlds of potential visitors that find information (Kress, 2005). Speech and writing tell the world, as they are, above all, modes founded on words in order. Images show the world, as they are modes founded on depictions. Words rely on conventional acceptance and are always general and vague.

The three articles/chapters discussed in this comentary speak of an evolution of technology from print to digital text (hypertext). Both Bolter and Kress argue that transformation has brought new forms of representation, which has been expressed in an explosion of visual elements within text. Moreover, Bolter argues that it is a process of remediation of print, consisting of an interaction between text and visual components as complementary elements of the act of reading and writing. The new form of text that comes up from this interaction (hypertext) is an intensification of print as the reader become conscious of the form or medium itself and of his/her interaction with it (Bolter, p. 43). It provides a new strategy, which involves interactivity and the unification of text and graphics for achieving an authentic experience for the reader. It is a remediation of print, as it offers different uses for texts and takes different forms (e.g. eBooks, electronic encyclopedia, electronic journals, electronic libraries, etc.). Will hypertext lead to the disappearance of print? Bolter suggest that both print and hypertext need each other in a sense of competence. Print finds necessary to compete against digital technologies in order to maintain their readers. On the other hand, print is becoming “hypermediated”, although it still seems more natural and simple than digital text is.



Bolter, J.D. (2002). Writing Space. Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print. New York: Routledge.

Kress, G (2005). Gains and losses: New forms of texts, knowledge, and learning. Computers and Composition,22, 5-22. Retreived October 20, 2011 from

Puntambeka, S. Stylianou, A, & Hübscher, R (2004). Improving navigation and learning in hypertext environments with navigable concept maps. Human Computer. 18 (4), 325-372. Retrieved November 4, 2011 from




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