While reading George Landow's "Hypertext and Critical Theory", I couldn't help thinking about my research experience I had last semester while writing the final paper for my freshman seminar. Before starting our research, we dedicated one class period to speaking to a librarian on how to utilize the libraries many resources. When the time came to start researching my paper I spent hours scouring the libraries resources for academic journal articles that pertained to my subject but I was having very little luck. My luck finally changed after discovering google scholar and I was soon flooded with reliable sources.
Before finding google scholar, many of the sources that I found directly from the library were pdf files of old medical journals that had been scanned into a database. When displayed on a computer screen these files were as interactive as a simple piece of paper. Using google scholar, I was able to find fully digital versions of many of the same articles. In his essay, Landow suggests that, "hypertext blurs the boundaries between reader and writer" (101). In most of the digital journal articles that I found the footnotes and cited works page consisted of hyperlinks. While reading the journal articles I had to ability to view many of the original publications that the authors of the journal articles had consulted. The ability to consult these works made the articles I was reading much less linear. As Landow says, "hypertext does not permit a tyrannical, univocal voice. Rather the voice is always distilled from the combined experience of the momentary focus" (105). When reading the journals containing hypertext I no longer felt as if I was being narrated to. It was much easier to assess the claims of the authors I was reading and come to my own conclusions on the subject.
Landow is also interested in the de-centering effect of hypertext. Landow believes that hypertext "is composed of bodies of linked texts that have no primary axis of organization" (105). This quality was especially prevalent while I navigated various online medical journals. After reading a journal article online, the reader is offered with usually a hefty list of works cited in the document they just read. These document often do not share the same point of view as the paper that they are cited in and can offer an interesting and different look at the subject. It is also possible with a click of a button to look at a list of all of the works that have cited the document you are currently reading. The de-center ability of hypertext makes it a valuable tool in researching a truthful and unbiased paper.
The use for hypertext is undoubtedly growing every day. Hypertext's ability to link various types of media together will revolutionize the way we view new media. Reading something like the daily newspaper could soon become a complete multimedia experience. The growth of hypertext in new media will continue to allow people to gather and process information with great ease and efficiency.