Szellem a gépben. A hypertext

Critical Writing
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2007
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The subject of the dissertation is the text represented on the World Wide Web, it’s problems, dilemmas, premises and possible ways of development. This text, which is recorded only in binary code, and the questions it rises is in the dissertation called the new literacy. At the end of the 20th century, the literary critic taged all the new phenomenons, forms and medias as postmodern. The aim of my work is to show, the text on the World Wide Web, and eventually the hypertext is not anymore part of postmodern.

The World Wide Web, CD-roms, binary recorded text, and the hypertext raised multiple questions: what are the characteristics of new texts, who is the author, what is the purpose of literary critic, how can the documents be catalogised, etc. The materials used in dissertation are mostly written in English and Hungarian.

The hypertext provides a connection between visual, oral and written communication, so the World Wide Web is a space where the arts are molded. The literery content on the World Wide Web has serious ties to matematics, filosophy more then anything ever before. The changes generated by the new literacy are simillar as we could all of a sudden write in space, instead of paper, but there is an obvious question: why cannot a common reader feel these changes. The answer is simple:

There is a small quantity of works written in hypertext, and even smaller in Hungarian, and the group of people reading literery text on the World Wide Web is even smaller. This is the reason why we do not witness a literary revolution. One of the aims of dissertation is to gather the new phenomenons, works, tendencies, experiments. These sometimes come out of nowhere, and the vanish in same way. Nowadays new expressions emerge: Gutenberg-galaxy, copy, paste, e-mail, document, chat, blog, hypertext, hyperlink, blog, icon, information highway, rss, gopher, html, docuverse (already disappearing).

The first discussion on the digital age and hypertext was about difficulties of reading from the screen and the death of the written word (paper). The first important publication on the topic in Hungarian was the Artpools Hypertext – hypermedia.
It is important to define the concept of World Wide Web. Popular error is to make it equal to Internet. Whilst the Internet is the system made of physical components, the World Wide Web is it’s biggest application. The hypertext the reader can see is defined by the html which can be the latin of 21st century. The computers browser then translates it and hypertext appears.

To understand the changes started by the networked computers, it is necessary to examine the first global revolution in communication and the scientific revolution which started by invention of the printing press. McLuhan calls this Gutenberg-galaxy. It is important to see the paralels between the changes generated by the printing press and by the networked computers. The best reference of this problem is James A. Dewar’s The Information Age and the Printing Press: Looking Backward to See Ahead. Using this material I try to make some statements.

The second chapter of the dissertation deals with the filosophy of the network and it”s characteristics. This leads to the idea of Internet, first introduced as Memex and Xanadu, or Vannevar Bush As we may think, the text about a machine which is something like todays World Wide Web. Dissertation is looking for answers, how is it possible, that a basicly military and scientific network evolved into a Library of Babel.

The second chapter of the dissertation deals with the filosophy of the network and it”s characteristics. This leads to the idea of Internet, first introduced as Memex and Xanadu, or Vannevar Bush As we may think, the text about a machine which is something like todays World Wide Web. Dissertation is looking for answers, how is it possible, that a basicly military and scientific network evolved into a Library of Babel.

The second chapter of the dissertation deals with the filosophy of the network and it”s characteristics. This leads to the idea of Internet, first introduced as Memex and Xanadu, or Vannevar Bush As we may think, the text about a machine which is something like todays World Wide Web. Dissertation is looking for answers, how is it possible, that a basicly military and scientific network evolved into a Library of Babel.

The literature can work with computers in different ways. First is the computer poetry, when the machine replaces the dice, for example in works of Tibor Papp or Queneau. This connection however is not organic. The second way is, when the computers are the topic of literary works. This is a stronger connection. Starting from the ideas of László Ropolyi, we arrive to the idea of the cyborg, and later, cyberpunk.

The third part of dissertation is on the hypertext itself. New questions appear. What is the connection between hypertext and the critic, does the structure of text – author – reader stays intact or it changes. Is the reader more of a user? What are the oppurtunities of hypertext and the links, is the copy-paste order a way destroy the idea of original? What is ergodic literature? What are the text clones?

Looking for the answers dissertation reflects to works of Espen J. Aarseth, Roland Barthes, Jorge Luis Borges, Vannevar Bush, Manuel castells, Jacques Derrida, James A. Dewar, Elizabeth L. Eisenstein, Iván Horváth, Péter Józsa, András Kappanyos, Raine Koskimaa, Zoltán Kul- csár-Szabó, George P. Landow, Marshall McLuhan, Péter Milosevits, Géza Orlovszky, Theodor H. Nelson, János S. Petőfi, David Ruelle, Tünde Tóth and Paul Virilio.

At the end of dissertation is a hypertext chronology.

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Patricia Tomaszek