|Kolb - Multilinearity?|
David Kolb contemplates the conditions under which philosophy might do its work in hypertext. If this is to happen, "We need a new nonargumentative form for a set of links, above the level of the individual lexia and short of the entire hypertext network" (Kolb 333).
Kolb sees Hegelian philosophy, with its "complex relations of mutual constitution and interdependence" that do not follow a straightforward linear progression, as evidence that philosophy need not argue in a linear fashion (Kolb 332). This approach to philosophy might help writers think of ways to construct academic hypertexts that draw on more of hypertext's tools than do the HTML essay or the extralinear essay.
The problem with this philosophical approach as a model for philosophy as hypertext lies in the construction of hypertexts: "Hypertext may make its lexias too independent and its relations too geometric to allow the complex interdependencies that nonlinear philosophy might want to explore" (Kolb 332). But are geometric forms and independent lexias necessary features of hypertext? Perhaps not.
The work of writing a particular hypertext can signal interdependencies just as print writing signals relations between paragraphs, between individual points across pages, or even relations between chapters in a whole. Visually, individual lexia may appear discrete and independent (a web page is a page). But textual work in a chunk of text can contextualize linked relationships in complicated ways.
Multilinear hypertext essays may be starting to perform just this kind of work. The research essay as hypertext would involve delimiting a relevant field for the project, locating techniques to signal in complex ways the relationships announced by links, and writing lexias that do not simply stand alone as mini-linear documents.
Michael J. Cripps
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