August 24, 2007

We Had To Walk Uphill Both Ways To Use The Internet

An anonymous blogger named "Tiny Cat Pants" — I'm sure I know her but I can't quite put my finger on a name or a face — has an amusing note about her old passion for hypertext and its current state. She recalls that

Back when I was in undergrad, a million years ago, I took a class from my favorite professor probably called something like “Women & writing” where we read a lot of feminist theory and then wrote stories in Storyspace, which was this (oh, look, still is) medium for kind of doing what we do here on the internet, but before the internet was convenient to use.

She recalls writing a master's thesis, deciding whether node/link hypertext — "collaboration between your choosing (since you put the links in) and their choosing (since they chose which ones to follow)" — was actually nonlinear reading or something else.

Still, it’s funny to me to think that thirteen years ago or so, my favorite professor had to spend a whole day teaching us about linking, getting us to let go of the idea that what follows from something you’ve just read has to logically fit.  Or that you would only follow at the end.

We still know too little about links.