Will this (therefore) not have been a Hypertext?
When I first started working on my final project for the 'Cyborgs, Virtual Reality and Critical Theory' class, I wanted to write about the hypertext section of the class since I was familiar with the theory and practice of it. I intended the project to be about the question of endings in hypertext and started writing it in a hypertext format. After a while, the project turned out to be a dead end street. The longer I worked on it the less I was able to actually produce something. There seemed to be little sense in talking about something that can only be experienced. Writing poems about poetry might function as another example for the impractibality of theorizing something within the realm of its own practice.
I am not trying to suggest that this project was born out of the frustration with my failed hypertextual attempt. The insight I described above, however, led me to think about possibilities of confronting a hypertext environment with linear narratives and/or essays. Nevertheless, the imagemap of the clock allowed me to introduce a certain amount of chance that lets the idea of a traditional table of content run ad absurdum. How far, though, is this project hypertextual?
Does the mere fact that there are no textlinks in any of the essays or in the story mean that this web would work just as well in a printed medium? There are several arguments one can hold against this:
Hypertext is more than links. Hypertext calls for a different kind of writing and thinking. This becomes clear when you compare the straightforward narrative with the essay part of this web. If the essays would have been written for a print medium, I would have taken care of building a successive structure like the narrative's one. Since I cannot know in what order the reader explores the essays, I cannot rely on this successive structure but rather have to create a parallel structure that grants each essay the same right. The story functions as a common reference point from which the individual essays branch off in no particular order.
Another point would be that the context of the World Wide Web is essential to this project. The WWW is a major part of what (the future of) Virtual Reality/Cyberspace is considered to be these days. This brings me back to the initial problem I described; it is simply more useful to work within and against the realm of the issue you are dealing with than merely theorizing about it.
Many theoreticians have elaborated on films' investment in satisfying the spectator's scopophilia. To my knowledge, there has been little work done towards an analysis of the satisfactory qualities of the WWW/hypertext. If, ultimately, the reader is looking for a pleasurable experience, some sort of climax that leads him or her to finish the reading, this may be linked to the huge amount of pornographic material on the WWW (the way film theory links the depiction of women in films to scopophilia).
Having this in mind, the answer to the question 'Is this a hypertext?' is an open one. If you feel an attraction of any sort that leads you to follow the essays (just like you follow a person that attracts you through an airport), to explore the web, and if this attraction finds its fulfilment, maybe then this will have been a hypertext, after all.