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Introducing the HTLit Column

(also in SIGLINK Newsletter, Vol. 6, No. 1)
[cover date: Feb. 1997; publication date: June 1998]

Do we really need an HTLit column?

Almost ten years ago, Stuart Moulthrop opened up a significant new avenue of inquiry for the ACM by presenting a paper on hypertext literature at Hypertext '89. The response to this ground-breaking effort? "Is this all a joke?" was the first question posed from the audience. How times have changed. Hypertext literature is no longer an outrageous novelty and literary papers have become standard fare at hypertext conferences. To mark the change, this issue of the SIGLINK Newsletter inaugurates a regular column on hypertext poetry and fiction.

The acceptance of literature into the SIGLINK fold is a development few may have anticipated at the organization's inception. Yet one of the measures of a strong technology is that it finds wide-ranging and often unexpected applications. A truly great invention is one that develops a life of its own, finding uses beyond the wildest dreams of its creators. The unexpected flourishing of hypertext literature is therefore testimony to the success of hypertext as a technology.

In order to serve all its end-users adequately, the hypertext research community must now understand hypertext as an artist's medium as well as an information delivery system. Conversely, anyone who hopes to grasp the full scope of Postmodern writing must understand hypertext as a resource for literary technique. With this in mind, I'll devote this column to reflections, reports from the field, reviews, and anything else that seems likely to help enrich the relationship between hypertext and literature.

Robert Kendall, HTLit Editor for the SIGLINK Newsletter


You Bet.

I make no secret of my sympathy for HTLit. Not that I always understand it. Not that I always stand it. Then again, when was the last time you had to cope with something that didn't quite fit with your idea of the world? Every time this happens I give thanks for being alive in these times.

I'm no humanist, and I'm no scholar either; I'm a computer scientist who thinks technology goes hand in hand with culture. And in a world where every new release of a word processor is trumpeted as The Next Step In Civilization I have found myself turning to art for genuine inspiration. Art just is something and lets others make out what it is. We scientists had better relearn this

Walter Vannini, SIGLINK Newsletter Editor




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