"A worlde of wordes": Conceptions of Textual Organisation in the Electronic Medium, or, The Dynamic Text as Hypertext

  1. 1. Raymond George Siemens

    University of British Columbia

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"A worlde of wordes": Conceptions of Textual Organisation in the Electronic Medium, or, The Dynamic Text as Hypertext
R.G. Siemens
Arguing initially with the metaphor suggested by the title of John Florio's early modern bilingual dictionary, entitled A worlde of wordes (London, 1598), I urge that our current notion of hypertextuality -- at least that as expressed by its most frequent implementations -- is really quite far from the limits of the medium as expressed by theories which address hypertextuality. The actual implementations of hypertextual theory with which many of us deal are much less than they should be; as a consequence, the potential offered by the new world of words represented by the textual information housed in electronic form, and the relationships extant within that information, remains largely unrealised.
By drawing on elements central to hypertextual theory that are well-accepted by those who have embraced the idea of the dynamic text -- yet which are too infrequently deployed in today's electronic academic environment -- and by coupling these with a very literal interpretation of the concept of intertextuality, I urge that we can no longer overlook the power of what is purely textual, in the hypertextual document, as a guide to the relationships existing among materials which are textual or extra-textual.

Rather than viewing the `hypertextual' associations of materials based on relationships which are established by authors and editors through hard-wired links, I argue that we should be considering instead the ways in which textual elements of electronic materials already relate explicitly to one another -- through the very words with which texts are comprised. Finally, I propose that the way in which such hypertextual/intertextuality might be best achieved is through a set of newly designed software tools which draw upon the principles of those which have been successfully used in association with the dynamic text, but which allow analysis over corpuses of text limited only by the breadth of the new world of words provided us by the internet.

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Conference Info

In review


Hosted at Queen's University

Kingston, Ontario, Canada

June 3, 1997 - June 7, 1997

76 works by 119 authors indexed

Series: ACH/ALLC (9), ACH/ICCH (17), ALLC/EADH (24)

Organizers: ACH, ALLC

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None