Bolter, Writing Space

J. David. Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation
of Print
. 2nd Ed. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2001.

Hypertext can do many things which print cannot. Bolter advances this
premise in Writing Space, accounting for the implications of digital and
networked text on print traditions; imagetext, ratios between word and image,
and picture writing; books, encyclopedias, and libraries; reader navigation and
academic dialogue (publishing); interactive fiction and literary
experimentation; poststructural theoretical orientations, senses of
coherent/fragmented self and mind, and culture at-large.

Writing Spaces belongs in a class with Hayles’ Writing Machines
and Johnson’s Interface Culture. Bolter foregrounds much of the
discussion of the force of hypertext on writing activity (activity leaning into
academic projects and literary pieces) with the idea of remediation: the
existence of the old in the new. Bolter accounts for the remediation
of print through extensive historical accounts, relating a progression from
scrolls to the codex to mass-produced books. It might be worthwhile to
consider this approach in light of what Johnson does with adaptation and
exaptation–variations on inertial and accelerative forces in the culture of


  • It’s not clear that there is a crisis (that print will vanish, that is),
    but there remains a debate about the value of the digital in relation to the
    longer-established print culture;
  • The new edition is an effort to correct false predictions, respond to
    critics, update re materiality and fold vocabulary into more recent
    turns (preface);
  • Technology (15) does not determine culture; it co-evolves and is as much a
    byproduct of culture movement as it is the driving force;
  • Computers have only relatively recently been considered writing
    technologies–1980s (24);
  • Hypertext is commonly conceived to be spatial (29) ^Does
    aggregation change this, re-emphasizing the temporality of the link?;
  • "In an electronic writing system, the figurative process becomes a
    literal act" (30) (re: outlining, hierarchization). ^Consider alongside
    Hayles’ "material metaphor."
  • "Each new medium claims to provide a new strategy" (45);
  • Hybrids: libraries (perhaps all writing spaces) move toward the
    incorporation of multiple forms of texts and means of making one’s way into
    and through textual systems.

Key phrases: late age of print (48), hyperbaton (counter-expectation;
surprise) (129), mind as hypertext (197), modes of representation (7),
hypermediacy (25), ekphrasis (56), picture writing (58)

"What is happening is a readjustment of the ratio between text and image in
the various forms of print (books, magazines, newspapers, billboards), and the
refashioning of prose itself in an attempt to both rival and to incorporate the
visual image" (48).

"What the reader does metaphorically in the encyclopedia, he or she can do
literally in the library–move into and through a textual space" (91).

"If linear and hierarchical structures dominate current
writing, our cultural construction of electronic writing is now adding a third:
the network as a visible and operative structure" (106).

"For Borges literature is exhausted because it is committed to a
conclusive ending
, to a single storyline and denouement. To renew
literature one would have to write multiply, in a way that embraced
possibilities rather than closed them off" (147).

"Electronic hypertext, however, seems to realize the metaphor of reader
response, as the reader participates in the making of the text as a
sequence of words" (173).

Related sources
Borges, Jorge Luis. "The Garden of Forking Paths." 1962. Ficciones.
New York: The Limited Editions Club, 1984.
Kurzweil, Ray. "The Future of Libraries." Cyberreader. Vitanza.
Landow, George P. Hypertext 2.0. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1997.