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ColoradoGuy
01-17-2008, 02:05 AM
Whatever happened to it? I recall much enthusiasm a decade ago, but now nearly all I can find dates from the exuberant era of the late 1990s. Here (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3860/is_199901/ai_n8839108/pg_1) is an example describing what folks thought it was. In a nutshell, it's sort of a mix between role-playing game (you be the author) and extreme reader response (you write the story, and each one's different).

The stories work by offering the reader a series of links to various threads of other things. The reader chooses to click on these links or not, thereby directing how the story unfolds. I always regarded the whole thing as mostly a gimmick, an offshoot of the internet hubris that led directly to the dot.com bubble and subsequent trashing of many a stock portfolio. It seemed to me more parlor game than literary endeavor, but there were many learned articles written about hypertext fiction in the lit/crit world.

Is anyone out there still involved with this stuff? Tell me why I'm wrong.

LaceWing
01-17-2008, 11:20 AM
I just came across http://www.protagonize.com/ the other day, which provides for collaborative hypertext story telling. I kind of like the idea of following a story until it sparks and you feel like going off on your own track. I didn't see anything there that was very well developed, but with a little more talent involved, it could make for interesting results.

When it all started, as I recall, the whole idea of hypertext was very novel. That's worn off, it seems, and perhaps some of the enthusiasts jumped into game development and role playing.

josephwise
01-18-2008, 02:43 AM
Isn't that a lot like the choose-your-own-adventure books? But electronic?

I agree, in terms of electronic hypertext "novels" I don't see it going very far, simply because the next evolutionary step, and an easy one to take, would be video gaming. Certainly some games could be works of art, in terms of story.

I think it would be difficult to write a high-quality, literary choose-your-own-adventure book, but there's a ton of potential there. A good writer could do something wonderful with that medium.

Linton Robinson
01-18-2008, 09:09 AM
I was wondering about this recently myself.

I never saw it as a role-playing thing. More like Burrough's "cut up" fiction. I was intrigued by the idea of a document where you could zip around from word to word, image to image, etc.

I even have a novel that would be perfect for it, since it works on similarities rather than time frame.

But, you're right...it just vanished. Apparently people didn't want it or weren't ready for it.

Maybe it was a case of gollygee over new tech, not backed up by quality wrting?

Maybe the use of Kindle-like readers will spur new interest?

ColoradoGuy
01-18-2008, 11:08 PM
I think you're probably right Linton -- it represented sort of "literature as toy." But what seemed odd to me at the time was how there were instantly articles and college courses everywhere about it. It was late-nineties hubris, I suppose. Medievalist pointed out on an earlier thread that hypertext is really an old notion (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1054035&postcount=2) anyway.

(By the way -- welcome!)

Ruv Draba
01-20-2008, 01:38 AM
You've seen this (http://www.bookbyyou.com/medieval/default.asp?id=Medieval-PPA-google&source=google), I expect? It came as a Google Ad through AW...

ColoradoGuy
01-20-2008, 01:59 AM
Ah, no.

Medievalist
01-20-2008, 02:23 AM
There's the Electronic Literature Organization (http://eliterature.org/), but their stuff shares the same problems with all the other hypertext fiction I read in the late eighties and early nineties when I was in the thick of the e-book revolution.

it's stuff I only read because I was paid to; yeah, it's that bad.

That said, I think there's enormous potential in the concept, but first you need a writer with a sense of story. I quite like Delany's American Shore, based on a novella by Disch, but that's really more lit crit than fic.

benbradley
01-20-2008, 03:40 AM
I think you're probably right Linton -- it represented sort of "literature as toy." But what seemed odd to me at the time was how there were instantly articles and college courses everywhere about it. It was late-nineties hubris, I suppose. Medievalist pointed out on an earlier thread that hypertext is really an old notion (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1054035&postcount=2) anyway.

(By the way -- welcome!)
I never knew of the late-nineties thing, but I first heard of/read of hypertext novels perhaps as long ago as the early 1980's when in Analog Magazine some author described his hyperbook available on floppy diskette. This thing almost certainly had a text-based interface. It may have been for MS-DOS or for the Apple ][, maybe it had versions for both.

And of course, any book with footnotes referencing other parts of the book or other books could be thought of as a "paper hypertext."

But it seems that readers only want to READ a story and be "carried along" by it, not make any decisions about WRITING the story. Such a thing may be "new and exciting" the first time you read one, but then you just go through all the paths, and see that it's just several related stories with some common parts and different endings. Also, the decisions the reader can make are neccesarily limited, even if the author writes thousands of pages of text. The original text Adventure game I first played on a college mainframe in the late 1970's had hugely more options than a hypertext book could, and it feels more like a "real universe" that the user/player can control and navigate. In retrospect, this was surprisingly good, considering the user/player controlled it through a command-line interface with simple imperative statements such as "go north" and "get lantern."

While not the hyperbook's direct inventor/predecessor, Alan Kay had ideas along this line, and invented the windowing/graphical user interface at Xerox PARC, later popularized by the original Apple Macintosh and then Microsoft Windows 3.0, and of course is ubiquitous today. In 1968 he thought up the concept of the Dynabook, mainly as a teaching tool for children, which the modern lap is roughly equivalent to.

Notable was Hypercard on the Macintosh, which both ran scripts and was a simple authoring system for writing hypertext "applications." If nothing else, it was a lot of fun to play with, and was my first "live" introduction to the hypertext concept. This was circa late-80's, a few years before the 1991 intro of the Web to the Internet, which I was a late adopter and didn't get
on until 1995. (:))

ColoradoGuy
01-20-2008, 03:47 AM
I'd forgotten all about Hypercard! The application came with the Mac (maybe a Mac SE or a Mac II? I forget) and I monkeyed with it for a while but never did figure out what to do with it.

Ruv Draba
01-20-2008, 04:59 AM
Ah, no.
Configurable story not for individual entertainment, but to create a shared mythos between you and your loved one to underpin your own little couples culture.

Hallmark greeting cards taken to a new level.

Now extend this idea to (say) a menu of themes and settings and styles. Mythic formulae for the workplace!

I guess it's not dead; still just trying to find its market.

Medievalist
01-20-2008, 08:45 AM
I'd forgotten all about Hypercard! The application came with the Mac (maybe a Mac SE or a Mac II? I forget) and I monkeyed with it for a while but never did figure out what to do with it.

Most of the early multimedia cd-rom e-books, and the floppy disk books I worked on for Voyager and other companies and presses were done for the Mac in HyperCard; I still heart HyperCard, though it's pretty much dead.

We did books for the modern library, and things like a scholarly annotated version of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Lookin Glass, MacBeth with the RSC performance and essays and footnotes...and I produced Lanham's Handlist of Rhetorical Terms for U.C. Press.

None of these were fiction written to be hypertext; I've always wanted to do Sterne's Tristram Shandy...

ColoradoGuy
01-20-2008, 08:59 AM
I was pretty exclusively a scientist in those long-ago days, and I couldn't see how Hypercard would help me study expression of various adherence proteins on vascular endothelial cells. So I quit monkeying with it. Tristram Shandy would be a cool application, though--it's sort of already in proto-hypertext.

Medievalist
01-20-2008, 09:21 AM
Tristram Shandy would be a cool application, though--it's sort of already in proto-hypertext.

Yes, exactly. :D As for science, you could've used HyperCard to do simulations ... lots of folk did.

ColoradoGuy
01-20-2008, 09:29 AM
Yes, exactly. :D As for science, you could've used HyperCard to do simulations ... lots of folk did.
I was a wet-lab sort of guy--chromatography columns, culture dishes, electrophoresis gels, large vats of pig blood stirred with a canoe paddle--tough stuff to simulate.