What then is the activity that occurs when an individual interacts with a hypertext. As defined by the Oxford English Dictionary (OED):
It is here that I introduce the concept of the engauger and the process of engauging. The addition of the u within the word engauge is not a spelling mistake and is rather purposeful as will be explained. In fact, the word is a homonym to the word engage. The etymology of both the word and the concept comes from the words engage and gauge(which is synonymous to the American variant of the word "gage"). The concept of engaugement is a convergence of the following verbs defined by the OED:
As to how the definitions for the word "engage" relates to the conception of engaugement, the experience of hypertext certainly involves the engauger's occupation of, interlocking between and, at times, a struggle with the text. Much more than the word "read", these actions refer to the necessity of the engauger to interact with the hypertext on a multitude of planes, to partially merge her own consciousness into the many gaps of the hypertext, to exert a presence through the direct selection of links and to continually struggle with the often disorienting feeling of experiencing a multi-directional text rather than just following a linear progression.
The engauger brings to the text much of his own experiences, opinons and wishes as stated by Wolfgang Iser. These are the engauger's personal possessions which are united to the reader, for better of for worse, in a relationship that is not altogether different from marriage. These experiences and desires are intimately paired with the engauger; any attempt to either deny the relationship or dissolve it can lead to a limited view of hypertextual engaugements or, at the very least, a misiformed belief in the divorcing of reader from experience. On the otherhand, acknowledgement of such extra-textual influences involved within the interaction of the hypertext allows for a greater appreciation of what goes on in the processing of a hypertext. This marriage of the reader to his ideologies and to the text is essential to the understanding of engaugement
...The more committed the reader is to an ideological position, the less inclined he will be to accept the basic theme-and-horizon structure of comprehension which regulates the text-reader interaction. He will not allow his norms to become a theme, because as such they are automatically open to the critical view inherent in the virtualized position that form the background. And if he is induced to participate in the events of the text, only to find that he is then supposed to adopt a negative attitude toward values he does not wish to question, the result will often be open rejection of the book and its author...-- (Iser, The Act of Reading, 202)
One can see from the above quote, that the marriage analogy can be taken even further. Once an engauger is confronted with the possibility of questioning her ideological position, she may at once opt for the "open rejection of the book." With hypertext, however, rejection of a may simply manifest itself within the choices taken within a hypertext, rather than the rejection of the hypertext altogether. Now that the engauger has the power to alter the progression of a hypertext, she need not reject the hypertext. Instead, the interaction with hypertext simultaneously conforms to the engauger's preconceptions while continually modifying them.
The question then remains, "Does writing define what an author does when he creates a hypertext?" Ultimately, the concept of engaugement may lead to the eliding of the distinction between reading and writing hypertextually, but perhaps that should be left for another discussion.