"Hypertext as Collage Writing"
From The Digital Dialectic: New Essays on New Media (Ed. Peter Lunnenfeld, MIT Press, 1999)
By George Landlow (Victorian Web founder!?)
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In attempting to translate a hypertext web presentation into publication format for a traditional print text, Landlow processes the metaphor of hypertext writing as a collage. He argues that this framework that invites us to recognize hypertext "as a mode that both emphasizes and bridges gaps, and that thereby inevitably becomes an art of assemblage in which appropriation and catechresis [a word or phrase applied outside conventional meaning] rule" (170).
Like collage, hypertext often includes appropriating materials and juxtaposing them in ways that forward new possible understandings.
This can occur when a link juxtaposes two verbal texts in an unexpected or revealing way,
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or when texts are simultaneously displayed on a shared screen in a visual collage fashion that foregrounds fresh potentials.
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The items thus blend together to form a single, unique whole reading experience.

I appreciated Landlow's semantic that hypertext is better described as multisequential or multilinear rather than simply nonlinear. A path remains, but it is self-determined rather than imposed, and unique rather than universal (154).

Landlow argues that a "fully hypertextual system" requires:
a) Linking - the key to creating "new kinds of connectivity and reader choice" (154)
b) A web large enough to create many paths and a networked system that can support such a web
c) A multiplicity of authors that realize the intrinsic multivocality of hypertext (suppressed by print technology)
d) The ability of the reader to add links, text, or both as he or she reads - reallocation of power from author to reader
The first two items now seem taken for granted, but would you agree that the third and fourth yet remain beyond the limitations of most digital texts?

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[Image from Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics]
1. Often the links we encounter in on-line texts require minimum connective effort from the reader to create closure. A link reading Trump accused of money laundering leads to a story providing background on that topic, for instance. In fact, we would criticize a link whose destination couldn't be immediately incorporated cognitively into the source. This author seems to instead endorse juxtapositions that challenge or delight in a fashion injected with the unexpected, similar to a Literature instructor whose creative comparisons generate fresh observations (Robert Browning's “Porphyria's Lover” and Eminem's "Stan" from Kyesha Jennings, for instance). Imagine a traditional comparative essay assignment replaced with a set of footnotes detailing the intentions underlying a series of student-developed links between two selected works - to what extent would this be a worthy substitute?

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2. Landlow points out two practical differences present in the hypertext environment (158):
a) Rather than one efficient pathway, readers can tailor their experience according to needs and interests
b) Hypertext writing invites quotations of greater length, with less intrusion from the author's attempts to introduce, summarize, or paraphrase content from another source
If you have personal experience birthing digital texts (ugh!), what other suggestions might you offer students attempting a first foray into text specifically written for this consumption space? A frequent suggestion in related articles is to "write for scanners, not for readers" (F reading?) - what is your response to that guidance - practical reality or helping to unfasten Hell's gate? :)