Iakttagarens förmåga att inngripa

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English title: "The watcher’s ability to interfere." Probably the first hypertext written in Swedish.

Description of the work by Hans Kristian Rustad: The hypertext fiction contains mostly written text, but some pictures and sounds also appear. In that case this text also in an international context is an early example of multimodal hypertext fiction. As you can see, you can traverse the text by clicking on links, which will provide you with a new text cluster, just like reading Afternoon or Patchwork Girl. Or you can read the text by using the navigation menu at the right hand side of the screen. As you can see the reader is offered something that looks like a default path by clicking on the arrows. Clicking on links might also causes a small text box to appear in front of the main text cluster, or as a kind of a note on the side of the text. These side notes are sometimes narrative and diegetic, sometimes they looks more like a poem, and sometimes they are explanations given by the narrator. Other links again makes more text appears inside the original text. This text
appears as animated text that is temporally manipulated, so the clicking gives the reader an impression that he is just reading half of a sentence, and need to click to make the rest of the sentence appears. Occasionally the reader is asked to “flip” a virtual coin, and the narrative continues based on the result, unintentionally and randomly.

Iakttagarens förmåga att ingripa is a hypertext fiction discussing fatalism as a philosophical view on life. Its about the protagonist Pete, which experiences the lack of options to change the course of his life. Pete is a writer, which stays in New York for some time. During his stay he meets by accident the photographer Johanna. Johanna is on leave from a psychiatric hospital, and Pete enters into a relationship with her, more or less against his own will. Back in Stockholm they move in together, and as they got to know each other they start to discover unknown sides of themselves.

The plot is pretty much like a crime novel, where the author has left traces for the bright reader to discover, and where the ending is unexpected. The title Iakttagarens förmåga att ingripa refers just as much to the reader’s situation in hypertext as to the plot and the characters’. For even though the reader is given choices and apparently is able to control the narrative sequence, the macro sequence and the narrative end are fixed and predetermined. Just like Afternoon and Patchwork girl, Tallmo’s hypertext fiction situates itself in the discussion of the hypertext technology’s democratic potential and the reader’s freedom of choices in hypertext. In this sense Iakttagarens förmåga att ingripa contributed to the discussions of newer technological affordances and its impact on the process of writing and reading, and on concepts such as literature, narratives, text, etc., in a Nordic context.

There is a problem concerning the accessibility of the work. It is available on a disc or as an electronic file, which is made available by contacting the author and paying a small fee. But it only runs on a mac, and than a mac with the necessary operation system (like for instance OS 7.1 or OS 9) with Hypercard or Hypercard player. There is also a challenge in that the author is the only one that has the ability to archive the text

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Scott Rettberg