Notes On The Physio-Logic Of Hypermedia (Part 1)

As a hypermedia narrative, Fast City encourages a particularly physical response from users of the software. The various accompanying sound effects are triggered by the slightest mouse-over action, and often as a result of the pointer accidental "brushing against" them, rather than carefully considered reading choices.

This thus challenges the conditions of user control, ie, the user is indeed granted unlimited options in choosing reading paths, but has to practise subtlety in manoeuvering the mouse/pointing device, rather than sink back into the luxury of unfettered literary contemplation. Users/readers will quickly settle into a comfortable rhythm, or groove, as a compromise between their own preferences and the demands as imposed by the software, and it is at this point that interesting reading processes and poetic experiences emerge.

These highly physical and rhythmic conditions are an important aspect of using digital information devices, and particularly structure hypermedia narratives. In Chapter 1 of Aristotle's Poetics, the role of rhythm is discussed as a medium of imitation that is commonly activated by "the arts of the pipe and lyre", "the art of dancing", and "the art that employs ... language in metrical form" (Halliwell 31). The study of literature over the centuries has indeed introduced many sophisticated tools and conventions for analysing the use of rhythm in poetic language. The intense interactive demands of Fast City suggests that an argument might also be made for formalising the rhythmic poetics of hypermedia as a physiological reading experience. [>]


Halliwell, Stephen. The Poetics of Aristotle: Translation and Commentary. London: Duckworth, 1987.