Notes On The Physio-Logic Of Hypermedia (Part 2)

In printed books, the physiology of reading largely involves holding up the book and disciplining one's eyes to follow the flow of elements on the page; left to right, right to left, top to bottom of page, depending on the language and culture. Beginning readers might point at each word with a finger as an aid to reading, move their lips to mouth the words, or perhaps find it difficult to discipline other parts of their bodies while reading and thus be overcome by distracting mannerisms, such as jiggling one's leg or fiddling with an item of clothing.

Advanced readers of English, though, might become proficient in reading up and down a page instead of across, scanning an entire line at a time and taking in whole paragraphs at a glance. This comes with a high degree of physical discipline, to co-ordinate the eye (for information input), the brain (for comprehension and storing into memory) and the rest of the body (keeping still). Successful readers are invariably able to determine their own reading rhythms and adjust these according to their particular reading needs.

How does one activate a mastery of reading rhythms, particularly in the case of hypermedia narratives? A cursory observation around any multimedia laboratory will suggest that the hypermedia reading experience is largely punctuated less with moments of breathtaking narrative insights than -- more likely -- physical gestures and movements: dragging the mouse to bring the pointer across the onscreen space; clicking to activate links; dragging windows to move or resize them; and searching through the menu bar to find drop-down options. [>]