A question still unanswered

The question that has underlain my work is, quite simply, “Why Hypertext?”

If we are going to throw literature classes, citations, and even reviews into mass confusion (no more turning to page 21), we’d better have a good reason why. If we are going to ask readers to take an active role in searching for text, making connections, understanding links, and finding structure, we’d better make the trip pay off. If we could get what we were looking for in a simple, straight-forward text, we’d be crazy to spend about ten times the effort to plan, write, link, and program a hypertext.

Deena Larson, 1999. Ran across it while doing some random research tonight. Nearly twenty years later, it’s still an open question.

The middle beast, a tremor of trepidation in his words, said, “You aren’t from a dark planet, are you?”

“No.” Calvin shook his head firmly, though the beast couldn’t se him. “We’re–we’re shadowed. But we’re fighting the shadow.”

(Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time)


In August 1986, for publication on ACEN, I began writing and designing the interface and programs for the hyperfictional narrative database, Uncle Roger. And in the process, I created an authoring system — Narrabase — which I have continued to develop for my work for 27 years.

From Judy Malloy’s artist statement for Uncle Buddy, a hypertext she created for the Apple ][. Imagine working on a piece of software for 27 years! Something to aspire to.