Undomesticated Hypertext

The idea that feral hypertext–“projects [that] accept messiness, errors or ignorance and devise ways of making sense from vast numbers of varying contributions”–actually exist shows how incredibly complex and evolved our intelligent machines have become. The idea that something “feral” can make sense of a multitude of arbitrary information is extremely fascinating.  Once again we find new ways to make computers emulate the brain by creating “intimate extensions to memory”; feral hypertexts, unlike domesticated hypertexts, work a lot more like our brains in that they allow for interruption and aren’t strictly bounded based on linearity or guidelines.  Domesticated hypertexts needed these guidelines and rules in order to allow for a more thorough comprehension on our part. Humans need machines and programs to be straightforward in order to completely understand their purpose and to summarize their objective. Feral hypertexts, on the other hand, are a lot more free-flowing and allow for interjection, looping back, and randomness that still manages to represent some sort of “collective narrative.”  The idea of intertextuality resonates throughout feral hypertexts–all texts, are somehow interrelated and can connect to one another through algorithms that recognize similar traits in other texts–thus they form a comprehensible, yet sporadic narrative, a narrative that is definitely a lot harder to try and fully understand due to the vast extent in variations of the hypertext itself in its crude and unbounded form. 

The lack of discipline in feral hypertexts can, however, cause some problems. In Jill Walker’s “Feral Hypertexts” brings up the point that “our idea of authorship is the only thing that keeps fiction from enveloping our world.” She goes on to quote Foucault who makes the same argument in his statement: “How can one reduce the great peril, the great danger with which fiction threatens our world? The answer is: one can reduce it with the author. The author allows a limitation of the cancerous and dangerous proliferation of significations within a world where one is thrifty not only with one’s resources and riches, but also with one’s discourses and their significations. The author is the principle of thrift in the proliferation of meaning.” Walker goes on to defend Foucault by bringing up the point that so many spammers, hacksters, and hoaxes exist on the internet now a days in this age of feral hypertexts and their lack of authorship.  The fictions we’ve created with these wild narratives run rampant on the internet and can sometimes be quite difficult to wrap our heads around. 

Are we paranoid of these types of texts? Should texts necessarily be bounded for the simple sake of being able to fully understand our texts? Should we cage hypertextuality so that we know it through and through from front to back? I feel if the evolution between machine and human is to continue, we must continue to explore the boundless areas of these machines we humans have created. In order to see how much we’re willing to progress should we not allow our computers to be sporadic machines merely following one of the most basic laws of physics–entropy–so that we can continue to understand the regression of these machines only to discover how different it can be. In order to build on the strengths of our creations we must know how far they’re capable of slipping into the faulty; as Walker says,  “feral hypertext draws from our collective ideas and associations to create emergent structures and meanings. That is valuable , if only we can see it and appreciate it.”

Comments are closed.