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Origins and Nature of Hypertext:

The Library is Open Today!

I have rich and rewarding memories of libraries and encyclopedias. I never thought of either as being closed, finite, organized or controlled. In my experiences, these sources have opened the world for me and provided many new avenues of knowledge. I am now more aware of how the constraints of information sharing were kept in check by cultural and historical controls. My memory includes being extremely disappointed when the library was closed and I couldn’t get in to spend time reading. (Yes I am one of those people who read the encyclopedia for interest.) It includes my joy when my father bought a home set of encyclopedias from a traveling salesman (at an enormous cost at the time!) Open access at an expense since there was no credit at that time!

In the remediation of libraries and encyclopedias, Bolter refers to these two sources of information as becoming open, infinite, less rigid and unbound. As I delve into the rich resources available through the UBC online library, I am reminded that these are still bound by the parameters of higher education. Yes, limited and controlled access is still a matter of having the right card (log in code). Try accessing the O.E.D. without your password! Maybe someday the access will be open to all, less rigid and truly unbound. Then it can be said that ‘we are reading and writing in and on the world’.

Bolter indicated that cyberspace is “an expression and extension of both” the natural world and the social world. It is a “great book of cultural choices that overlap and coincide with the ‘natural’ order.” (p. 98) With the increasing use of open source software, social networks and tagging (as a means of creating semantic relationships) maybe the world library will be open today and every day!

Bolter, Jay David. (2001). Writing space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print [2nd edition]. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum

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