Theoretical Objections to New Media, the Internet, and Hypertext
Espen Aarseth: "there is no evidence that the electronic and printed texts have clearly divergent attributes" (Cybertext, 70) — Aarseth neglects fundamental qualities such as speed and ease of producing a result.
Espen Aarseth: Digital media do not empower anyone — Aarseth again neglects fundamental matters such as difference between availability and accessibility created by speed and ease of obtaining information.
Example: a young man encounters some pills that resemble an antihistamine for which he has a prescription, but which he cannot definitely identify for he no longer has on hand the medicine bottle. Each pill, however, has three numbers impressed in the surface, so he types just the three numbers into Google, and the first hit brings one to a pharmaceutical manufacturer's site for a drug, which identifies it as a very different medication, so he does not take the wrong medication. Even if one had a Physicians Desk Reference (PDR) at hand, one could not search by number but would have to compare the pill to images of various medications. In a similar situation, consulting a pharmacist did not help, since since he claimed the PDR contained so many pills, he did not have the time to try to identify any. In other words, information one would have to expend many hours or even days to acquire was located on the web in less than 15 seconds.
Espen Aarseth: Hypertext does not empower readers and readers do not share power of author. — Aarseth, Ryan, and others who take this position make two fundamental errors:
Claims by Bush, Nelson, van Dam, Meyrowitz, and others about reader empowerment assume readers use read-write systems to which they can contribute links, annotations, and entire documents, and not simple write-only systems like the Web. Blogs are the first true, if limited, hypertext environment that meets some of the requirements of hypertext pioneers.
Aarseth and others confuse fictional hypertext (in which authors can exercise great control) and informational hypertext.
Aarseth and others neglect fictional hypertexts that give readers great freedom, such as Patchwork Girl and Quibbling.
Aarseth and others discuss only very small, often stand-alone, fictional hypertexts, not giant bodies of information in which readers have freedom to make many choices.
One political value or effect of hypertext appears in relation to postcolonialism. . .
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