Nelson’s First Law

Mark Bernstein’s comment in a previous post reminds me of something I forgot to come back to. One of the reasons I’m tracking certain aspects of the Brimmer hypertext is to explore questions of aesthetics in the art form of hypertext fiction. Certain editing and creative problems arise in the crafting of hypertext that apply only to a story crafted to be read via mediation by computer and will not arise when crafted to be read in a paper medium. Yet, both creative works will share whatever traditional elements apply to story telling, such as scene and dramatic tension.

This goes to the context of the term “e-book,” which I’ve commented on in a post entitled ebooks and the new media paradigm some years back. A work written as literary hypertext (or any genre for that matter) is created within the context of forces, limitations, modes, and computational frameworks of the surface environment. This is either an elaboration on or exposition of a stipulated Nelson’s First Law of Hypertext: a text built to be read on the computer.

If a hypertext is reproduced on paper, it’s no longer a hypertext.