Slatin, John M. "Reading Hypertext: Order and Coherence in a New Medium"
In his article Reading Hypertext: Order and Coherence in a New Medium, John M. Slatin asserts that hypertext can only exist online and it needs to take the computer into consideration as a new medium of communication. The fact that hypertext only exists in an online environment is the biggest difference between hypertext and traditional text. By communicating through a computer, one must realize that documents now have multiple points of entry, as opposed to a book, which has only one point of entry that makes sense.
According to Slatin, "one of the chief functions of rhetoric in the hypertext environment is to discover the principles of effective communication and then develop ways of implementing those principles through the available technology." There is a whole different assumption about readers and reading hypertext than traditional text. Reading hypertext is non-linear, meaning that readers will enter a text at any point at will and exit a text as abruptly as they entered it. It is very difficult to understand and predict how a reader will read a hyper-document.
Slatin defines three different types of hyper-document readers:
- Reader as browser- One who wanders aimlessly through an area. The browser reads for pleasure as opposed to reading for a specific purpose. The browser might not read through all the available material.
- Reader as user- This reader has a clear and limited purpose when reading through material. These readers enter the hyper-document in the looks of something specific and once they finds the material they are looking for, they leave. Slatin says that this user resembles a typical student doing an assigned reading for a course.
- Reader as co-author- Reader either adds additional information to an existing document or creates a new document that is available for others to review and change.
Slatin notes that a reader will eventually be all three types of readers at some point.
The greatest value of hypertext is the ability to link enormous quantities of material that would normally be separate.
The following key terms are defined in the Glossary: hypertext, node