Monday, September 6th, 2004
I’d like to set up a hypothetical scenario.
Imagine a point anywhere, relative to any other point in space. A line extends from the point to infinity, right or left directional. Any other point, marked 1, 2 et cetera, on the line represents a linear sequence in relation to the beginning point, say the first page of a book, 17 indicating it’s last page, the first point, 1, beginning the linear sequence of the technology. The last page, in this example, is never 16.
We turn the pages of a book to get to its end, reading across the page and down, depending on how we were taught. The book is used in a linear way, even though we can always look for something that came before. But what element of the book makes it a linear technology, as opposed to a DVD where a menu will grant access to other entertainments?
The mind often works out of logical sequence. One thought will lead to another thought, often at randon. Digital hypertext can be linear and non-linear, creating an interface where one “starting point” could be represented by any link, any point in a sequence, formally speaking. The link “dog” could be placed next to “gem stone.” These two unrelated items could link back on their own referents. A reader could click on the link “dog” and read a story about “gem stones,” finding out later, maybe ironically, that the link “gem stone” told a story where everything in “dog” was colored blue, whereas “gem stone’s” similar objects were colored red, creating a world where coolness acts differently on the protagonist’s decisions. One links leads to the protagonist voting Republican. In the other, the protagonist votes Democrat, creating two different versions of history.