Here are some notes I wrote myself about the kind of hypertext writing I wanted to do, based on a series of hypertext articles in the American Quarterly and a roundtable of responses to them (see bibliography). I offer them up in the spirit of transparency, so that you can see what motives were at play in my writing, and also in the hope that they might be useful to someone besides myself.

I think I should note that these tips don't necessarily apply to every form of hypertext...they just reflect where I came down about my own purposes. Hopefully they should raise some questions for you about how active we require our readers to be and how much we should rely on print conventions to make our readers comfortable.

Can you make an argument in hypertext? Can you create something that moves forward toward an overarching idea (or set of ideas) in an environment that intrinsically lends itself to digression, juxtaposition, dissolution, interconnection, and supplantation?

-Randy Bass, "The Expressive Shape of Arguments and Artifacts"

The Problem of Excess:

• Ask yourself, is this a benefit to the author or the reader?? Ie: Don't be indulgent.

• Keep in mind saving your readers time and sharpening your argument

Don't let the possibilities of including everything prevent you from taking a stance on particular materials

• Everything relevant does not need to be included- what is of concern is the way you include material

Balance your evidence and your assertions:

• Readers are usually looking for your analysis of the research. They don't necessarily have the time or interest to do the research themselves...

Visual Material:

• Don't just use visual materials as decorations

• Don't reduce your work to sterile caption-making

• Don't let the fact that scanning and including visual materials is work in and of itself convince you that that is all the work you have to do


• A link is not equivalent to a causal explanation of an apparent relationship

• Hyperlinks seem to promote intertextuality- but how many of them actually provide transformations in perspective or method?


Juliet Gorman, May 2001