As we continue to restructure our reality through telling stories, using text to structure thought and change our consciousness, connecting through vast global networks of data flows, erasing time and space and creating a new reality based on searchable databases of our collective unconsciousness, we become a hypertext. This theme of hypertext reality runs in an undercurrent throughout this learning journey we have embarked on together, and despite feeling like Odysseus wandering the seas of data, we come to the end of our travels with a realization that everything can become a hypertext, and through this hypertext we reinvent ourselves and transform our identity, culture and self.
At the end of the late age of print, it is possible that our bodies, minds and world network society will become a hypertext based on data, surrounded by a sea of smart objects that feed infromation into an intelligent internet. Bolter (2001) states that the mind is a hypertext in which the memory becomes a space for writing as we internalize the alphabet and our networked digital spaces enable multiple identities or perhaps hyperlinked identities. Hypertext is the ultimate remediation of print in that it enables a physical construction of ideas and stories interlinked along vast networked thought pathways digitized into a space of flows of data. The significance of this is that hypertext not only reflects our mind, it is a recreation of self, community, social connections, culture and an ever-changing interconnected space that reflects the needs and ideas of a global network society.
Hypertext Restructures Consciousness and Self
The beginnings of hypertext are based in oral traditions, as stated by bvhill, who writes that in telling stories on Facebook and blogs, we continue to use the traditions of orality to connect with each other. In this hypertext reality the evidence of writing restructuring consciousness, as mentioned by Jim Cash and Scott Alexander, is seen in the conception of time and space, the internalization of the alphabet, the existential act of writing and the development of analytic approaches to ideas. To assist in this hypertext of self and society, technology buttresses ideas by transforming and informing culture, as stated by Leonora, who discusses the use of media to create a searchable social memory. Transformation of a society and a culture supported by institutions is not without its traumas, as E Danielle Norris so eloquently elaborated on in her commentary. Certainly the hypertext of a global culture that interconnects all netizens on various levels can be a frightening experience to those unwilling to change, or those institutions unwilling to adapt.
One of the impacts of the transformation of our entire state of being into a hypertext is the change of homeostasis, or, as defined in Jasmeet Virk‘s post on Orality and Homeostasis as the ability to live in the present. In a hypertext global network society, time and space are no longer existent, as we live in what Virillio (2004) would define as a global one-time. There is only the present, since we know instantaneously if something is happening anywhere across the globe through tools such as Twitter, which is a hypertext of our thoughts in machine-based data structures of 140 character strings.
Hypertext is the remediation of print, as Angela Novoa demonstrates when she writes that hypertext is an “intensification of print” as the reader becomes conscious of not only the text, but also its media format and his/her interaction with that idea. Mark Barrett continues this discussion, by his insights into Vannevar Bush’s concept of the Memex machine and “trails” or hyperlinked thoughts and flows of ideas. The ability of hypertext to connect thoughts and enable the transformation of the reader and author into visitors and prosumers (Valtysson, 2010), enables not only a transformation of consciousness, but also a transformation of self, since it interconnects all and makes even the social culture of humanity into a hypertext. Dennis Pratt writes about how technology is becoming more human-like, in that it is becoming a society in its methods of sharing ideas, connecting through Web 2.0 services like social media and sharing our interconnected stories. In this manner, technology begins to mirror not only our minds, but also our society, which enables the development of a hypertext of culture as well. When we developed symbols out of icons it transformed us as a species and as humans, according to Garth, since it allowed for the development of language and abstract thought. Now that we are in the late age of print, I would suggest that the hypertext of the global network society is interconnected by both text and icon, enabling a remediation of the visual, abstract and rational thought to coexist in a digital space of interconnected ideas.
We are the New Writing Space
At the end of this learning journey, I find myself contemplating on the dual reality in which we live, where one eye focuses on the digital world and the other upon the physical ephemeral world, both interconnected by hypertext. If hypertext is a remediation of print based on language and symbol that enabled abstract thought and development of the consciousness, then hypertext has the ability to recreate our mental spaces into digital spaces. Through hypertext, our global culture becomes interconnected deeply, transforming into a network society based on Informationalism (Castells, 2004). Technology becomes an extension of self and we are able to recreate our identities in the hypertext known as social media, online storytelling through blogging and computer-styled data transfer found in Tweets. The oral frameworks used by the bards of ancient times, as discussed by Ong (2002), which could be interconnected based on the needs of the audience, have been transformed into an interactive writing space wherein author and reader both consume and produce information in an interactive dance of creation and internalization. In this new networked culture, Bolter (2001) emphasizes that the writer is never in isolation, but rather interconnected within the cultural matrix of the network society. Hypertext thus becomes a remediation of not only print, but also of orality, self, society, ideas, social networks and culture, resulting in a hypertext reality. In this late-age of print, I would suggest that we are the new space of writing, a new remediation by hypertext, wherein our minds, ideas, culture and bodies become data sources feeding the digital world with information and complimenting data collected by smart objects that proliferate across our physical world.
Bolter, Jay D. (2001). Writing spaces; Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of print. Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, Mahwah, New Jersey, London.
Castells, M. (2004). Informationalism, Networks, And The Network Society: A Theoretical Blueprint. In Castells, M. (Ed.), The Network Society: A Cross-Cultural Perspective. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar.
Image used in article (2011, November 3o). License obtained from stockxpert.com.
Ong, W. J. (2002). Orality and literacy: The technologizing of the word. London: Methuen.
Redhead, S. (2004). Paul Virilio: Theorist for an accelerated culture. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Valtysson, B. (2010). Access culture: Web 2.0 and cultural participation. International Journal Of Cultural Policy, 16(2), 200-214. doi:10.1080/10286630902902954