The Electronic Labyrinth

The Rhetoric of Hypertext

Few authors have considered the need for an extended rhetoric in hyperspace. The question here is how hyperbook authors will use the new structural components at their disposal to create an effective presentation. Landow's "The Rhetoric of Hypermedia" stands as a formative article. Using the analogy of reader as traveller, he divides concerns into three parts: navigation, departure, arrival. His discussion concerns itself mainly with research texts, as evidenced by his first rule: "the very existence of links in hypermedia conditions the reader to expect purposeful, important relationships between linked materials" (83). His nineteen rules provide excellent starting points for debate.

Here, we will make two brief observations. First, many of Landow's recommendations may be reduced to "use navigation tools well." Second, these rules are made to be broken by fiction authors, for instance those which insist that anchors strongly indicate their source and destination (rules 8-13, 96-97).

Landow also describes six types of overviews.

© 1993-2000 Christopher Keep, Tim McLaughlin, Robin Parmar.
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