Do we really need an HTLit column?
Almost ten years
ago, Stuart Moulthrop opened up a significant new avenue of inquiry for the ACM by
presenting a paper on hypertext literature at Hypertext '89. The response to this
ground-breaking effort? "Is this all a joke?" was the first question posed from
the audience. How times have changed. Hypertext literature is no longer an outrageous
novelty and literary papers have become standard fare at hypertext conferences. To mark
the change, this issue of the SIGLINK Newsletter inaugurates a regular column on hypertext
poetry and fiction.
The acceptance of literature into the SIGLINK fold is a development few may have
anticipated at the organization's inception. Yet one of the measures of a strong
technology is that it finds wide-ranging and often unexpected applications. A truly great
invention is one that develops a life of its own, finding uses beyond the wildest dreams
of its creators. The unexpected flourishing of hypertext literature is therefore testimony
to the success of hypertext as a technology.
In order to serve all its end-users adequately, the hypertext research community must
now understand hypertext as an artist's medium as well as an information delivery system.
Conversely, anyone who hopes to grasp the full scope of Postmodern writing must understand
hypertext as a resource for literary technique. With this in mind, I'll devote this column
to reflections, reports from the field, reviews, and anything else that seems likely to
help enrich the relationship between hypertext and literature.
Robert Kendall, HTLit Editor for the SIGLINK Newsletter