Vannevar Bush, one of the pioneers of hypertext theory, proposed the Memex [animation], which permits the reader to create a layer of links over another person's writing. He in essence invents a new form of writing, one that consists of the connections between texts, rather than the texts themselves. He also provides the basis of open hypermedia systems — systems in which links are stored outside the individual document in a separate database. This separation of links from documents permits various link sets to organize a body of texts, images, and sounds.
Now suppose one can do this on the internet? Well, you can with Active Navigation's Portal Maximizer (a descendent of Microcosm and Multicosm). Anyone who comes to someone else's document via your server finds the links you put in someone else's work. Yes, we have the empowered reader . . . but suppose a holocaust denier puts links in a holocaust memorial site, or a white supremicist site co-opts one like my postcolonial literature and culture web . . .
Conclusion: Writing is always power, but whose power?
Return to lectures by George P. Landow