Since 1987, my chief research interest has been the craft of hypertext writing. The future of serious writing lies in the computer display; how can we use new media to communicate more effectively and to learn more quickly.

Our survival depends on finding a better answer.

Related topics: Ten Tips for writing better weblogsNeoVictorian Computing

Adrian Miles sends word of a very intriguing essay, Toward a Visceral Scholarship Online: and Hypermedia Ethnography, by Craig Saper. It's in the new e-journal, E-Media Studies.

Susan Gibb explores the sensual nature of hypertext, reflecting on Calvino's cold winter nights and Shelley Jackson's Patchwork Girl:

Lovers' reading of each other's bodies (of that concentrate of mind and body which lovers use to go to bed together) differs from the reading of written pages in that it is not linear.  It starts at any point, skips, repeats itself, goes awkward, insists, ramifies in simultaneous divergent messages, converges again, has moments of irritation, turns the page, finds its place, gets lost

Another intriguing suggestion: sex as white space.

Steve Ersinghaus has a fascinating new reading of Mary-Kim Arnold's “Lust”.

Mar 08 25 2008


Steve Ersinghaus takes a whirlwind tour of critical theory in Reading Hypertext: Diversion I.

Is this a diversion, a distraction, or a divertimento?

Mar 08 5 2008

On Boredom

Ben Vershbow at IF:Book launched a trumpet blast at Jeremy Ashkenas's Hypertopia, a web app for writing hypertext fiction, on the grounds that hypertext fiction is boring. I don't think they're serious: I think it's just a marketing ploy, a pose meant to discourage any investors Ashkenas might have or to try to convince him to drop out of their market space and go play games or something. Just business, in other words.

Jan 08 11 2008

Writing Spaces

I again call your attention to fascinating dual weblogs by writers Steve Ersinghaus and Susan Gibbs, describing their experiences writing hypertexts with Storyspace.

Here’s one of the writing spaces that developed from a thematic link on the irrevocable in Paths. One of the beauties here is that the link is used to develop a strong force in story. Things get lost and we miss what is no longer in place.
Sep 07 18 2007

Musings: TNG

Steve Ersinghaus muses on what the next generation of Storyspace might look like.

Storyspace is, in my mind, the best conceived hypertext writing environment I know, and I know the system pretty well. As a connectivity metaphor, it’s brilliant and prescient. The numerous ways of building relations and seeing how they can be built and abstracted are the reasons I wanted to go to Manchester. I have a stake in the future of hypertext both as a writer and teacher. The weblog is okay as a means of delivering info to my students. But it’s really not all that I want.
Sep 07 15 2007

Hope Commentary

Susan Gibbs reminds readers that my trip from Edale to Hope might not be a cheese sandwich completely unconnected from Hypertext '07.

Congratulations to m. c. schraefel, who won the Hypertext '07 Engelbart prize for her (wild and crazy) paper with the surprisingly tame title: "What is an analogue for the semantic web and why is having one important?". Intriguingly, schraefel argues that emphasis on the semantic Web as a publication medium (like the Web) obscures its real nature, which lies in intelligent personal data, such as the notebook.

The Reading Room prize, for best hypertext, was won by Steve Ersinghaus for The Life of Geronimo Sandoval.

A fascinating and important blog post by Steve Ersinghaus, ostensibly about disappointment over missing Hypertext '07 but really about the experience of writing hypertext — specifically his The Life of Geronimo Sandoval. It's featured in this year's Reading Room.

I found editing in Storyspace a deep, rethinking process, one that is almost impossible to share or explain. In TLGS, there are many areas of the text the reader will never see because they are simply bypassed. They are a sort of idea-based archaeology, bits of broken pottery that over time, I found no use for in the paths of the novel, such as a stretch of action that appeared at one time to supply the answer to a quandary, but that become too burdensome to keep in the possible flow.
Aug 05 9 2005

Facade Discussed

Steve Ersinghaus offers an interesting discussion of Stern and Mateas's long-awaited hypertext drama, Façade.

In a subsequent note, he expresses some frustration that the characters seem not to be paying attention to him.

The Façade web site says they've had 95,000 downloads. I'm sure they also have sold a bunch of disks -- including mine. I haven't been able to install it on Progress, but we'll get it done eventually.

May 05 8 2005

Flower Garden

Spring is in the air. Steve Ersinghaus says nice things about email responsiveness and Eastgate's lack of voicemail mazes.

This is, of course, a complex question. I hate to leave email sitting around for hours if I can avoid it, and I hate to leave questions and bugs sitting any longer than I must. And I try to encourage my colleagues to feel the same way -- not because I'm right, but because it's probably better if Eastgate is consistent.

But there are costs, too. One worry is that, when I'm on the road (like I'll be in the coming weeks) and the office is shorthanded, we're bound to be slower than usual. Unavoidable, but bad.

From Steve Ersinghaus, an interesting behind-the-scenes note about using Storyspace to plan a Flash/video production project.

Storyspace has provided the space for questions: how it will all be placed, where things will link to and more; and working in that space has provided lots of bangs–'oh, that’s where the still moon shot will go.'
Apr 05 20 2005


Steve Ersinghaus calls for an enterprise version of Storyspace.

This could mean a huge expansion in the use of Storyspace as an institutional tool and more dramatic presentations to other colleges in the state of Connecticut, for the Federal Government, and to our regional accrediting agency.

Great Lettuce Head offers an exceptionally thoughtful observation on educational technology. Often, people think that inviting, easy-for-novices software is essential for teaching -- software that tells you what to do, software that shows you what's next. Steve (?Ersinghaus -- another of those blogs where it's not clear who is who) disagrees:

The question for educational technology is not color, ease of use, or usability; the question is how does the system augment practice? How does it make the job more interesting, flexible, creative, and meaningful?
When you open up Flash or Storyspace, you're met with an empty stage. Both environments wait for you to do something. Both programs want you to think big and rough them up a little. Eportfolio presents a series of fields for plug in, like an old style workbook, at once dull, and employs very little planning archicture, no agents, or search capability. It's not really a development software package that ask for much work other than to plug in and respond in fields to questions that will become redundant very soon....This is the key. Storyspace, Feedemon and Premier act as brilliant case studies in tools oriented for human use.

This distinction, between software that tells you what to do, and software that waits for you to do something, represents a very important divide -- a divide that's in the end more important than that related religious quarrel, Windows vs. Macintosh.

A brilliant little trick of Apple's new Pages is the way it opens with a blank page that's already filled with placeholder images and greeked text -- a blank page that's not blank. Brilliant.

Aug 02 24 2002

More Writing

Jarno Virtanen turns Writing The Living Web on its head and uses it as a self-assessment tool. An unexpected but nice thing about this article: quite a few people seem to have found in it a reason to pick up a discarded or neglected weblog and try again. Then, Photodude provides a wonderful list of additional reading, starting with Orwell! Thanks, everyone!

There's been a good deal of discussion about Writing The Living Web, and it seems that, while sailing in the Hebrides I missed the joy of seeing my piece in the Daypop hotlist. Lots of thoughtful discussion emerged. J. E. Warren assembled a thoughtful overview of the discussion, with updates (and more updates), and Al Macintyre published his detailed reading notes in his weblog.

Now in Zeldman's A List Apart: my essay on Ten Steps for Writing The Living Web. It's an approach to thinking about better weblogs. The reception for this article has been overwhelming: generous, sympathetic, and engaging. Some folks thought the piece was too long, or that the writing was less tight than it might have been. My suggestion that people avoid worrying about correctness was unexpectedly controversial. A sampling of other links:

Mark focuses on the dynamic nature of weblogs (or, better yet, of any site that represents frequent personal input and guidance), and gives ten good rules that aim to help writers both understand that dynamism and shape their creative energies accordingly. It's the kind of essay that I'll bookmark and send along to anyone who asks me about weblogs; it may be the best example yet of capturing the reasons why weblogs have become such a success. -- Q Daily News

Some of Bernstein's tips are old hat, but I found a few of the tips to be illuminating - in particular: tip # 5, "Make Good Enemies", and tip # 8, "Be Sexy". That's what the edublogging community needs - more enemies and more sex! -- AlterEgo  

Mark Bernstein remains, even amongst Webheads, a relatively unknown person and that is shame. Those that recognize it generally do so because of his work with Eastgate. But he is also one of the few people who have been seriously advocating hypertext -- which, ironically enough, seems to be a dying artform on the Web.... His ten tips are simple, but all have well-articulated reasons that any writer should take to heart. -- 

The most authoritative instructional guide to blogging that I have read -- erin 

Truly a wonderful piece of writing. -- Andrew Synowiez 

This article inspired me to renew the weblog I'd abandoned earlier this year. -- J.E. Warren