Hypertexopia - a sort of new type of Wiki for publishing on the net
March 3, 2008 4:05 PM   Subscribe

Hypertextopia is a hypertext authoring site with some new twists on interface and design concepts. Example stories include The Seven Voyages of Sinbad, The Butterfly Boy by William Vollmann, and others from The Grand Library.
posted by stbalbach (17 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

Now this is very interesting indeed.
posted by WPW at 4:10 PM on March 3, 2008

How is this different from wikipedia?
posted by empath at 4:21 PM on March 3, 2008

(or a wiki in general)
posted by empath at 4:21 PM on March 3, 2008

Is this, like, HTML in Flash?
posted by mrnutty at 4:39 PM on March 3, 2008

How is this different from wikipedia?

This looks to be mainly for nevermind.

Hypertext fiction as an idea is neat, but in practice tends to be not so great. I think if you're really serious about branching narrative, you're probably better off going with a full blown text-parser IF system. Still, the fact that hypertexopia's a web UI that pretty much anyone can go ahead and plunk something into speaks in its favor. Not everyone wants to (or needs) to learn TADS or Inform to tell a story.
posted by juv3nal at 4:44 PM on March 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

Hypertexopia also has some neat tools for messing around with text.
posted by juv3nal at 4:54 PM on March 3, 2008

This looks great, although all the stories I've looked at in their library so far seem fairly linear - as in, clicking key words and phrases in the text only provide one level of nesting. Which means they are never more than diversions from the main "spine" of the narrative.

This means none of the stories can reach the kind of nonlinear complexity of, say, Michael Joyce's classic "Afternoon: a story" (

That said, the interface is pretty.
posted by mammary16 at 5:01 PM on March 3, 2008

Geoff Ryman's 253 did a pretty good job of avoiding the linearity trap, I thought (although it can certainly be read in linear fashion).
posted by thomas j wise at 5:10 PM on March 3, 2008

posted by louche mustachio at 5:24 PM on March 3, 2008

It's interesting, but I'm not ready to make the leap to hyper-reading until I can cope with the ADD I already have.
posted by not_on_display at 5:48 PM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

juv3nal: You're a MeFite after my own heart! But, really Inform 7 is a beautiful, beautiful language... my humble opinion is that it's the most perfect machine language ever in how perfect it is for the job it was designed to do. Ruby comes a close second. But I digress.

TBH, this whole thing would be about a million times more interesting to me if it didn't look like it was designed by an old Geocities user. As it is, i can not bear to even play around with it and see if there's any potential there. It's honestly that bad to me.
posted by vertigo25 at 6:17 PM on March 3, 2008

I thought it would be good for annotating a classic novel. Good, but not great. Not many options available that are easy to use, flexible and look good.
posted by stbalbach at 6:54 PM on March 3, 2008

In 1995, I wrote a paper on hyperfiction that concluded:
[Hyperfiction] is burdened with too many problems and no advantages. According to John Gardner, "if the effect of the [narrative] is to be powerful, [it] must probably be vivid and continuous" (31). By forsaking control over order and selection of his text, by sacrificing its continuity, the author is in danger of giving up whatever narrative thrust his work had. Theoretically, the hyperstructure could be pieced together so elegantly and perfectly as to always produce a satisfying linear story by avoiding the pitfalls I tried to sketch. However, it is not clear what would be gained even by such a "perfect" hypertext version over its linear counterpart. There simply does not seem to be a good reason to tackle the problems that hypertext fiction is burdened with. While it might offer great opportunities for playful interactions (in the form of interactive games, constructive hypertexts, or MUDs), it seems to be an artistic dead end as far as narrative is concerned.
This site looks nifty, but I haven't yet found a story there that works -- only "choose your own" adventures.
posted by muckster at 6:59 PM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

There simply does not seem to be a good reason to tackle the problems that hypertext fiction is burdened with. [....], it seems to be an artistic dead end as far as narrative is concerned.

Literary choice is a deeply powerful component of narrative, when harnessed correctly. And it *can* be harnessed correctly in electronic literature. That was less apparent in 1995, although Meretsky's Planetfall and A Mind Forever Voyaging hinted at it, and Ryman's 253 highlighted it by negating choice within narrative. To be fair, the narrative tour-de-force of hypertext, however, probably didn't occur until 1997 with Final Fantasy VII.

What you missed in your article, which should have been clear in your reading of Afternoon, A Story, was that Joyce was also rejecting most of narrative in addition to rejecting the imperative. But narrative in that article is cinematic, not textual; you refer to Kieslowski instead of Homer, Auerbach, and Aristotle.

You made a lot of unsubstantiated hypothetical claims in that 1995 article. Do you still stand by them?

--the rules for signification of a link have to be made clear.

--hypertext [....] results in confusion.

--If the artist, [....] leaves [choices] to the reader, his work is not empowering and democratic, but incomplete.

--In summary, analysis seems to suggest that as far as traditional fiction goes, hypertext is burdened with too many problems and no advantages.

I would be more bold than that. Your analysis does actually make a claim. Unfortunately, it's not centred in details of actual texts and therefore frequently mistaken.
posted by honest knave at 12:27 AM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

The problem with hypertext in 11 words:

When I'm reading something, I don't want to read something else.
posted by Aquaman at 9:31 AM on March 4, 2008

I'm not sure about the value of this for fiction (I personally hate missing anything, so I'll expand and click and whatnot to ensure I read everything, anyway), but it's long been something I've wanted for technical writing, especially academic papers. I have so often wanted to put portions of my papers in collapsed, dynamically-expandable "popouts" like in Hypertextopia. Footnotes and parentheticals can only go so far. I'd like to have the main ideas flow smoothly, with any additional explanations or elaborations easily available for those few readers who are interested but not in-line with and interrupting the text. Standard hypertext links have some value in such writing as well, though at least personally I don't like to be taken elsewhere for something when I intend to later continue reading from the origin of the link.

I've strongly considered publishing dynamic versions of my papers alongside the static, linear PDFs on my own website. It would be an interesting experiment, at least. Hypertextopia doesn't seem to make any code available, but it shouldn't be too hard to hand-modify some latex2html output or the like.
posted by whatnotever at 9:39 AM on March 4, 2008

whatnotever: I can recommend some tools; but I don't want to self-link in a marketing sort of way. Emailing you.
posted by honest knave at 11:02 AM on March 4, 2008

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