Hack 2.0

A second hypertext hack involves citation. Hypertext writers and theorists are much more tolerant and welcoming of work that imports sections of other authors' work, word for word. It is easy for me to simply copy a paragraph from Barthes or Derrida or Calvino, put it in quotes, italicize it, attribute it to its source, and link it to the related parts of my web. It is much more difficult to really understand and internalize the citation, be able to put it in my own words, and explain it in my own writing. I worry that hypertext authors can get away without thoroughly understanding the theory they 'borrow' from the literary giants, and that they don't get enough practice understanding something well enough to teach it to others in their writing.

On the other hand, it could be argued that hypertext is the most appropriate medium for successful indirect communication. If I needn't struggle to express what I see as the connection between two units of text, I can simply link them and hope that the reader sees the same connection I do. In this way, the connection I feel but do not or can not express in words is transferred directly into the mind of the reader. The intermediary of the text is thus obviated.

Another related issue is one of confidence: sometimes, the reason I use a particular quote from Barthes or Calvino is because I think that I couldn't possibly parapharase it in language and style as excellent as theirs. I don't trust my writing enough to do the theory justice, so in taking the easy way out and simply copying the quote into my web, I don't even give myself the chance to try and improve my writing.

If we look at the other side of the coin, a warped advantage of hypertext becomes apparent. Perhaps when the hypertext author concentrates less on the paraphrasing of theoretical ideas, he or she can devote more care and mental resources to the assemblage and aesthetics of the hypertext web.