Reading Time: For a Poetics of Hypermedia Writing

Critical Writing
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Reading "time" in literary hypermedia requires that we read in time, that we get to the work in time, and that we use our time wisely in navigating its surfaces. These are more than just metaphors, since erasure and modification on the Web often mitigate, sometimes eliminate, opportunities for studying and understanding this new and vigorous body of work.

Critical investigation of the literary corpus on the Web might therefore focus less on when a particular work came on the scene (for example, its date of publication, since, as I argue above, such calendar dates, even when available, mean little on the Web), and more on what version it serves to demonstrate.

... as literary documents become less fixed, more dynamic, and more immersive, they begin to look less like "poems" and "stories" and more like virtual or "artificial reality" environments, such as those described by Myron Kreuger more than a decade ago. In such environments, with participants processing different feedback, the very notion of "interpretation" or "analysis" becomes suspect.

The art of Web-based textuality thus emerges as an art of the ephemeral, much closer to performance (like live music, theater, or even the low-tech and, to some, anti-technological "spoken word" reading) than to traditional literary publications.

In addition to the two famous critical questions "What does it mean?" and "How does it work?", we must now ask, "What happens as it works?". That is to say, we can now look more closely at how the sub-languages of computer coding provide opportunities for visual-textual pacing (real-time rhythms) that writers until now have not been able to control.

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Eric Dean Rasmussen