About This Project

In this node, I discuss how I came to this project, and where I intend to go with it. These comments have no part in the formal Creative Component. But on the Web, because we are dealing with hypertext, I can put these comments in for those interested without worry of detracting from the all-important argument I put forth in the formal thesis.

I provide plenty of opportunity to stray from the argument both wide and deep. I want to encourage connections. I want this work to be a part of the "conversation" about hypertext theory and the World Wide Web. Lofty aspirations, I know. But that's what I'm hoping for (and believe is possible on the Web).

The point of this work is not for me to be a "voice of authority," but to argue against such an idea. The point of putting this work on the Web is not to lead you by the hand through my argument, suppressing marginal information in favor of that which contributes to my argument. I hope to break the bounds of linearity (though I know that task will be formidable) and provide a work whose center moves with your whim. If I'm successful in creating this work, I will give up a great deal of control and even potentially link you to interesting information from which you might never return to this work. That's the risk I take, and that's the pleasure in reading a document like this one.

Though producing hypertext takes away a great deal of control from the authorial standpoint, it also allows for a far greater degree of freedom than is available with traditional linear printed texts. Hypertext allows me to go off on tangents which you can follow or not follow as you please. I can pursue arguments that may not be germane to the current subject matter, but have connections I wish to pursue. I have the freedom to explore that connection as I please. And I can do so without interrupting myself or you. You can pass right over that colored text without a second thought as to what's behind it if you choose. But I have still said my piece--even if I'm the only one who knows about it. I will go into much greater detail on most of the issues in the actual thesis. This is just a hint of what's to come.

How This Project Came About

The evolution of this project has not been stunning. To me, it seems to have progressed as both technology and my awareness of it have advanced. It has also been influenced by my exposure to Postmodern theory.

Originally, I began pursuing research on visual design for online documents. Not even necessarily hypertext, but simply documents intended for online use in simple terms. The conclusion I came to, in spite of all the hype surrounding the difference between print and online documents, is that many of the elements of visual design theory held true for both print and online documents. At some point I will post the paper I wrote outlining this idea. At the time I started that research, I had never heard of the World Wide Web (it was very much in its infancy in the Fall of 1993) and had only a nodding familiarity with hypertext.

A short time later, I got my first Internet connection at home and began an internship with CE Software --where I subsequently became employed full time as a Technical Writer--who develops, among other things, electronic messaging software. My exposure to technology was, therefore, greatly enhanced. During that internship period, I learned of SGML. Having previously been interested in online design and documentation and seeing that SGML provided a means of getting around the problem of online documents being software/platform specific, I began looking at the possibilities for design related issues within SGML documents. It wasn't long after that exposure to SGML that I discovered HTML.

I remained interested in design related issues, but now on the Web. I believe, in spite of the limitations of HTML for design, there is still a great deal of room for discussion of design on the Web. However, as I began to do more research on this specific type of online document, hypertext, I became fascinated with hypertext theory. At the same time, I was also introduced formally to Postmodern theory. It didn't take long to see that the two worked beautifully together.

And this is where I am today. The Creative Component has been drafted right here on the Web, each and every version subject to the scrutiny of anybody who visits these pages. The thought of this project has been at the same time exhilarating and terrifying.