The lofty theory of hypertext

I understand the theory of the convergence of literary theory and computer hypertext, however I am not sure how, as it was described in the readings, it is so different with computers versus standard text.

Granted with computers the functional aspect of a hyperlink system is likely more user friendly and more rapidly upgradeable, but one can create a similar environment with text. While a reader can simply read "Pride and Prejudice" as a self contained text, he or she could also pick up the extensively annotated version that draws the text to other texts, or explains the social contexts of the novel. One could claim that our modern computer hypertext understanding gives more options or more detail, but conceptually I do not quite understand how the two differ. In "Hypertext and Critical Theory," George Landow says "a book [is] never clear cut," "it is caught up in a system of references to other books, other texts, other sentences; its a node within a network"(100). So with proper references and regular updates of opinion and connections, with text cant one do what one can with computer hypertext?

Much of the claims of hypertext are lofty, and I think don't take into account that in such a system everyone may have equal access but is not equally qualified to contribute to a text. Landow states that through hypertext we "abandon conceptual systems founded upon ideas of center, margin, hierarchy, and linearity and replace them with ones of multi-linearity, nodes, links, and networks"(99). But today there are several examples of hypertext environments with users contributing to authors works, like wikipedia, and I would argue that they are not so free and open as Landow's descriptions would lend us to believe. Landow claims that "All hypertext systems permit the individual reader to choose his or her own center of investigation and experience"(106). But a individual reader may not be qualified to chart their own investigation and may not have the experience to comprehend an idea. Therefore contributions to a text are not without hierarchy as only the qualified or knowledgeable can meaningfully contribute.

So I do not view hypertext as a means of democratizing text, but instead as another platform for the already knowledgeable to gain more knowledge from others like them by drawing connections and contributing new texts. With books it is the same, an elite group has read many texts and is able to draw on those texts while reading another, and if so desired can contribute by writing a critique or a new text. Hypertext is the same process updated. It is simply a logical step on our content creation and development given the digitalization of our culture.