Brooke, “Making Room, Writing Hypertext.”

Collin Gifford. "Making Room, Writing Hypertext." JAC
19.2 (Spring 1999): 253-68.

With hypertext, the canon of arrangement risks fading into invention; this
results from the presumption that audiences have greater agency when navigating
through a hypertext, which, in turn, suggests that arrangement is comparatively
inconsequential.  Brooke, however, seeks to correct this misnomer by
registering an affront to the oversimple division that pits hypertext’s
liberatory and open-ended qualities opposite print’s convention of linearity. 
The canon of arrangement, that is, isn’t doomed by the variability of multiple
paths so long as we understand that arrangement, given its correlation to cycle
(Bernstein) and pattern, intervenes between print and hypertext, each
characterized at their structural extremes (containerism and free-form,
respectively). With cycle and pattern as the hypertextual logics of arrangement,
the problem of disorientation is less extreme and we need not abandon
arrangement in "an electronic text-space" (261).


  • Mustn’t rely on hypertext’s novelty;
  • Readers, even with greater selective agency, are conditioned by print and
    related spatial expectations;
  • Lefebvre’s social space: conceived, perceived, and lived;
  • Linearity does not equate to hierarchy.

"Although I am contending that there is a space-element intrinsic to all
discourse, it is important to note that this element is shaped in significant
ways by the technological specificity of a given discourse" (255).

"Insofar as arrangement remains a canon in a rhetoric of hypertext,
then, its influence is subordinated to other canons rendered largely irrelevant
to the writer in an electronic environment" (257).

"Bolter doesn’t push his discussion of hyperbaton far enough because it
leaves hypertext dependent upon the values of print texts that are violated by
electronic writing" (257).

"We hesitate to embrace more technical hypertexts because to do so would
be to embrace the values that those texts represent for us: mechanical
efficiency, speed, functionality, and transparency" (258).

"Hypertext, however, presents us with a different relationship between discourse
and space, and it does so by reintroducing the visual into the verbal field"

"If we hold onto the notion that hypertext is defined according to its
violation of print standards
, and arrangement (via print’s reliance
on linearity) is the canon perhaps most responsible for those standards, then it
may seem reasonable to allow that canon to atrophy in an electronic
" (261).

"The very presence of something called the ‘disorientation problem’ in
hypertext studies, then, points to the possibility that hypertext may disrupt
that homogeneity, that it may enable discursive spaces different from the
abstract containerism implied by print" (261).

"The containerism of print technology is an example of a constructed social and
discursive space where the moments have become so coherent that their
coincidence seems logical and even natural" (262).

"To put it in the terms of this essay, we need to invent forms that lie
somewhere in between the containers that print has encouraged and the paralyzing
freedom of an infinitely open space" (263).

"One advantage of embracing such a re-orientation of arrangement [in
cycle and pattern] is that is allows us to more fully explain some of the most
important claims that hypertext theory has advanced" (264).

"Arrangement must instead be infused with the idea that its products need
not be permanent, or closed, in order to provide the type of meaning
that will orient readers" (265).

"Placing our emphasis on the patterned yet provisional qualities of
arrangement might be one way that we can make room for hypertext in our
disciplinary conversation" (265).

Terms: Joyce’s "alternative organizational structures" (257), Bolter’s
"hyperbaton" (257), hypertext as Quintilian’s "confused heap" (257),
"disorientation problem" (258), containerism and container metaphor (260),
social space (262), Bernstein on "the Cycle" (264)

Related Sources
Bernstein, Mark. "Cycle." Patterns of Hypertext.
(1 October 1998).
Janangelo, Joseph. "Joseph Cornell and the Artistry of Composing
Persuasive Hypertexts." CCC 49 (1998): 24-43.
Lefebvre, Henri. The Production of Space. Trans. Donald Nicholson
Smith. Cambridge: Blackwell, 1997.