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Bolter, February 13th

“We depend in a variety of ways on our knowledge of print in order to read and write hypertexts”. (Bolter, 2001, p. 45).

Bolter’s Writing Spaces presents the concept of remediation, or that each new medium seeks to replace the old at the same time as it also “borrows and reorganizes” aspects of the previous writing space or technology in an attempt to optimize it (p. 23). Bolter explains that some of these remediations (such as the shift from papyrus to the manuscript) take place slowly, while others are more “traumatic”, like creation of electronic reading and writing spaces (p.24). In the next chapter, he focuses on the effect of hypertext on the writing spaces, and how it in part dismantles the traditional hierarchical structure of printed books and manuscripts by allowing movement between pages of information outside of the traditional structure of a text, and instead favors a topical organization. Writers can use hypertext to select an individual path through the information at hand, one that can be unique for each reader based on their own interests or needs, and “deep reading” is possible since information that would be relegated to foot or endnotes can be included as a parallel pathway for readers. In addition, the “malleability” of the writing space means content can be organized and changed by the creator at their will, in contrast to the closed system of a printed book. However, Bolter argues that print still informs the way we read and engage with electronic text, and that this remediation is still heavily dependent on current, print-based structures like hierarchical arrangement and the supremacy of print that have still not been entirely replaced by the new, remediated system. Even though Bolter’s next chapter does consider the visual element to electronic texts and how it continues to remediate not only textual media but also visual, I would be interested to see an updated edition that begins to evaluate the impact of virtual reality and augmented reality as it relates to the remediated writing space, and of the impact of “stock” website design content management systems that create a transparent platform for the media at hand.

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