Hypertext=Hypermind

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Okay, this is not going to be as critical of hypertext as I thought it would be.  The thing is, it took me three tries to 'read' The Heist.  The first time was when I was at home.  I read through the introduction and scanned through as a first-time observer of the medium.  The second attempt was made a couple of hours before this entry, which was created after the final try.  The first two times, I felt bombarded with links; it was like a choose-your-own-ending novel, but with three different choices on every page.  This made it harder to concentrate on the prose of the novel, and I found myself asking which link will be the best one to choose instead of what will happen next.

The last time, I was able to read four or five pages before I lost my concentration.  Which brings me to my next point: the hypertext does not compensate for poor writing.  I have not read Mr. Sorrells' other books, so I do not know what his style is, but he miss the mark with this work.  The characters and the plot are hackneyed, and offer little separation from the bank robbery archetype.  The language is just below the level of a trucker's but still above that of Stephen King, and yes, it does make a differnce if you use five f-bombs per sentence in any creative work.  The author seems content to use the links to create a shifting viewpoint, even though this feat can be achieved with a tradition novel.  I would argue that a book such as As I Lay Dying does the same thing to a better extent, without the distracting effect of having a web browser.  It captures the characters mindset as a whole, while The Heist only captures certain thoughts.  To increase my contempt for the style, Sorrells uses the nihilistic minimalistic style where that refuses to take a stance on anything; you do not find out the author's opinions on police, criminals, robberies, etc.  The author portrays everyone in the world as a jerk, but everything else is done for show.  In this sense, Sorrells outdoes Stephen King.

I should not be too critical of Walter Sorrells though.  At the time, this novel (I think he tells us not to call it that in the introduction, but I do not know what else to refer to it as).  In 1995, the year that this was written, I had not even heard of the internet.  This was obviously written with the excitement about using new technology, and less with the idea that the readers attention should be held.  I found that the longer things went on, the smaller my attention span was, and the more my mind started racing.  I just started scanning for links that would get me to the end as fast as possible, and that is why I do not like this medium for writing fiction.  There is something about reading a book that keeps me from peeking at the ending.  Even in a book like Kilian's, where I am not too heavily involved, I did not skip one page, like I did with The Heist.  It scares me, as an author, how easy it is to do on the internet.

Crawford Kilian tells us in the end of Writing for the Web 3.0 that the best way to learn is from experience.  It is my sincerest hope that Walter Sorrells has learned from the experience of writing this book.

And now for some dinner.

2 Comments

Aja Hannah said:

I thought his writing was poor too. He seemed to try to make up for his lack in style with many links and I got quickly bored and upset. I wish it had been written with more thought and effort and less links

Jed Fetterman said:

The links were okay, I just wanted to see him do more with the plot and the characters. I think it would have been neat to do a choose-your-own-ending style story with the hyperlinks, instead of just taking a linear story and breaking it up with hypertext.

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Jed Fetterman on Hypertext=Hypermind: The links were okay, I just wa
Aja Hannah on Hypertext=Hypermind: I thought his writing was poor
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