Some selected readings on hypertext

The first decades of wild enthusiasm for hypertext, which saw the advent of Eastgate’s Storyspace, Apple’s HyperCard, and of course the flowering of HTML and the Web, also saw a rush of writing about hypertext and hypermedia.

With maturity has come relative obscurity: the publishers’ lists are overburdened with books about how to do hypertext and hypermedia in terms of HTML, CSS, XML, and every acronym you care to think of, but there are relatively few books which consider what and why, and any theoretical underpinnings. Here is a selection of some of the more important books and other resources which go well below the surface.

George P Landow‘s Hypertext 3.0, Critical Theory and New Media in an Era of Globalization (2006), Johns Hopkins UP. ISBN 978 0 801 88257 9. This is a revision of previous versions 1.0 of 1992, and 2.0 of 1997, and is probably the most comprehensive but accessible overview of the subject. Although the last decade has seen significant change in some respects, particularly in politics, this remains essential reading.

A series of books by Franco Moretti propose innovative approaches to literary theory which are reflected in good hypertext tools, including:
Graphs, Maps, Trees, Abstract Models for a Literary History (2005, 2007), Verso. ISBN 978 1 84467 185 4.
the responses to that in Jonathan Goodwin & John Holbo’s Reading Graphs, Maps, Trees: Critical Responses to Franco Moretti (2011), Parlor Press. ISBN 978 1 60235 205 6.
Distant Reading (2013), Verso. ISBN 978 1 781 68084 1.
Moretti is not only excellent reading: his innovative ideas are a good provocation for your own. Even if you are not particularly interested in literary theory, these are well worth reading.

Eastgate, developers and publishers of Storyspace and its note-keeping companion Tinderbox, offers a lot of material on Storyspace, Tinderbox, and hypertext. Particularly valuable are Mark Bernstein’s collection of papers, and HypertextNow. A PDF version of Mark Bernstein’s Getting Started With Hypertext Narrative is currently bundled with Storyspace, and Eastgate offer printed copies too. This is a bridge between the more theoretical books and the app-specific help file, with valuable advice based on a lifetime’s experience. Again it is largely aimed at those creating fiction, but much remains relevant to non-fiction too.

For Tinderbox users, the second edition of Mark Bernstein’s The Tinderbox Way is well worth purchasing.

Finally, if, armed with Storyspace and Tinderbox, you still long for the joys of HyperCard, there is always SuperCard 4.7, although it seems a tad expensive at $279 per copy.