Der Hyperlink in der Lektüre
Pause, Leerstelle oder Flucht?

von Beat Suter

This essay is an extended version of a lecture which was held in Mainz at the Gutenberg University during the symposion «literatur@internet» on january 21 and 22, 2002. An intended publication of all contributions to the event did not manifest. Three years later it may seem odd to publish an essay on reading hypertexts and the functions and meanings of hyperlinks. By now most scholars have "progressed" to researching "other" literary and art-related digital expressions.
But the situation in early 2002 was not that much different. The year before scholars of new media and journalists of the old media had announced the death of hypertext and the triumph of multimedia. Everyone seemed to agree on the banality of hypertext and its foremost praised element hyperlink. This was exactly the time when hypertext had in fact just established itself among the masses of electronic network users as a communication standard. They would have needed more support on how to live with hypertext. But since hypertext was now a standard for the masses it seemed no longer of interest to the academic community which prior to this shift was heavily involved in researching literary hypertexts and related digital literature.
At that point I tried looking into what had been established by the scholars so far. I put on "Proustian glasses" which according to the introductory quote will be the hypertext, checked if they fitted me and took a closer look at what others don't see anymore – the "important locations in a text", the topoi, the underlined passages, alas: the hyperlinks.

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