Hypertextual Ultrastructures: Movement and Containment in Texts and Hypertexts

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Title: Hypertextual Ultrastructures: Movement and Containment in Texts and Hypertexts
Author: Coste, Rosemarie L.
Abstract: The surface -level experience of hypertextuality as formless and unbounded , blurring boundaries among texts and between readers and writers , is created by a deep structure which is not normally presented to readers and which , like the ultrastructure of living cells , defines and controls texts' nature and functions . Most readers , restricted to surface -level interaction with texts , have little access to the deep structure of any hypertext . In this dissertation , I argue that digital hypertexts differ essentially from paper texts in that hypertexts are constructed in multiple layers , with surface -level appearance and behavior controlled by sub -surface ultrastructure , and that these multiple layers of structure enable and necessitate new methods of textual study designed for digital texts . Using participant -observation from within my own practice as a webmaster , I closely examine the sub -surface structural layers that create several kinds of Web -based digital hypertexts : blogs , forums , static Web pages , and dynamic Web pages . With these hypertexts as the primary models , along with their enabling software and additional digital texts -wikis , news aggregators , word processing documents , digital photographs , electronic mail , electronic forms -available to me as a reader /author rather than a webmaster , I demonstrate methods of investigating and describing the development of digital texts . These methods , like methods already established within textual studies to trace the development of printed texts , can answer questions about accidental and intentional textual change , the roles of collaborators , and the ways texts are shaped by production processes and mediating technologies . As a step toward a formalist criticism of hypertext , I propose concrete ways of categorizing , describing , and comparing hypertexts and their components . I also demonstrate techniques for visualizing the structures , histories , and interrelationships of hypertexts and explore methods of using self -descriptive surface elements in paper -like texts as partial substitutes for the sub -surface self -description available in software -like texts . By identifying digitization as a gateway to cooperation between human and artificial intelligences rather than an end in itself , I suggest natural areas of expansion for the humanities computing collaboration as well as new methodologies by which originally -printed texts can be studied in their digital forms alongside originally -digital texts .
URI: http : / /hdl .handle .net /1969 .1 /ETD -TAMU -2009 -08 -7126
Date: 2010-01-14

Citation

Hypertextual Ultrastructures: Movement and Containment in Texts and Hypertexts. Available electronically from http : / /hdl .handle .net /1969 .1 /ETD -TAMU -2009 -08 -7126 .

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