Interactivity 2: Activating Vectors

Fast City is the result of a principled attempt to explore how physiological and psychological operations might be perhaps more effectively activated when reading and navigating hypertext/hypermedia fiction. In hypertext fiction, links are generally represented in the form of words or phrases that present the possibility of jumping to another lexia; as such, readers have to negotiate BOTH reading these links as a string/narrative unit, as well as calculating the overall navigational topography within each lexia, in relation to other existing links and possibilities of interaction scattered throughout.

Even as this demands a very high degree of hypermedia literacy, authors of hypertext fiction often have little control over structuring how readers actually respond to these critical points in the reading process. Fast City proposes that these moments are in fact open to authorial intervention and control, to be addressed as an essential part of composing a hypertext narrative. The narrative here thus attempts a tentative strategy of absolutely distinguishing lexias (reading material) from link-triggers (the lexia map, an array of buttons) which forces the user to focus on one or the other, at any one given point.

This is argued to provide for a possibly more stimulating, reactive, even physiologically efficient reading experience in that the user can (a) navigate in a practically random fashion by moving the mouse around the lexia map (b) jump across a set of lexias -- ie, explore an expansive narrative vector -- very rapidly as a series of quick cuts similar to film editing; and (c) flash past the entire set of lexias in a flurry of the wrist, and subject himself or herself to the possibility of accelerated subconscious reading.

While this presents the possibility of jumping lexias "anytime, anywhere" -- a potentially giddy experience -- it also challenges the strategy of back-tracking, that is often employed when reading hypertext fiction. It is perhaps futile to obsess over reading trails in Fast City: how does one back-track within this narrative, except to trigger off more lexias and sounds that arise to construct not the return path, but rather many new reading paths forward, both intended and unintended. Thus, back-tracking in Fast City means generating more new readings, new journeys in themselves; which more accurately reflects life in general. [>]