Why Did People Make Things Like This

Why Did People Make Things Like This

John Cayley

A cyber (hyper) text reading through Copeland, Gibson, and Christopher Dewdney, with breaks for speculation on form and opacity. Is there a manifesto buried in here? You decide.

The form of linking in this hypertext is experimental and slightly unusual. In part, it is the result of the limitations within basic html and the ‘frames’ facilities initiated by Netscape (where a link in one frame cannot, it seems, update the content of more than one other frame at one time).

The links are, as it were, deferred or floating. To move to a new passage, the reader should try clicking on one of the four graphic images of “text” in the outer frames. However, this may simply reload the current passage in the central frame. To be sure of moving on, you must click on one of the images in the central frame. This will usually (but not always, the piece has a topography, though one of the four will always yield) replace the graphic text in the nearest outer frame so that when you then click on that, you move to a new passage in the central frame. However, the other three outer frames will remain unchanged. In a sense the links associated with a previous passage are still accessible from the new passage and are now associated with it (in a configuration which may not have been–indeed, it is unlikely to have been–anticipated by the pro-author).

The basic topography of the piece is two columns of linked passages, a ‘left-hand’ column with my commentary/criticism/theory and a ‘right-hand’ column with selected quotes from Idoru, microserfs, and one listserv posting (by myself to the ‘British Poets’ list). There are also explanatory passages (as above) tacked on (to the top of the column).