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Remediating Stretchtext

Critical Writing
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Year: 
2010
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Abstract (in English): 

Seventeen years have passed since Coover's inspiring call to defy the tyranny of the line through hypertext, "where the line in fact does not exist unless one invents and implants it in the text." The profound influence of that clarion shaped the development of electronic literature and attracted the scorn of critics — Sven Birkerts, Laura Miller, Michiko Kakutani – who villified hypertext in defense of the line. Overlooked in the controversy is the embarrassing fact that, even today, we know remarkably little about inventing, implanting, and cultivating the narrative line in its organic richness. We know sequence and rhizome well, but the contours of recursus, timeshift, and renewal remain, for most writers, an arcane craft.

How may we render a satisfactory account of complex events, fictitious or historical? We want hypertext narrative to do things we cannot achieve in print, and though we may occasionally use links or actemes to introduce variation in presentation or in story, it is now clear that hypertext will most frequently prove useful in changing (or adapting) plot.

Stretchtext reacts against the perceived incoherence of hypertext narrative, promising stability and context -- free and knowing navigation -- as a defense against the perceived anarchy of exploratory and constructive hypertexts. Rich stretchtext formalisms are now readily supportable through javascript libraries and AJAXian services, but the narratological restrictions that conventional stretchtext imposes on hypertext narrative have not been fully appreciated. This paper describes those limitations and introduces an implemented generalization of stretchtext that matches the expressive and formal capabilities of classical hypertext systems while appearing to be a conventional stretchtext and while running within the confines of a Web browser.

(Source: Author's abstract for ELO_AI)

Critical writing referenced:

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Title Developers Year initiated
JavaScript 1995
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Record posted by: 
Audun Andreassen