This section of the essay sketch contains information about conceptual areas dicussed in the course. Using either the Scrabble board or the links below to begin navigating the site:
In 1917 at an art exhibit in New York, Marcel Duchamp submitted "Fountain," a urinal he had found. Marcel Duchamp's fountain marked a change in the art world. Artist no longer had to create an original complete masterpiece. They could use found objects and author by reference.
In today's era, Duchamp's idea of authoring by reference can be found in many different areas from the hypertext of the internet to photography. A photographer does not create his composition from scratch; but instead, they find an object and frame it using the camera.
Ted Nelson formulated the idea of "hypertext" or non-sequential text. The idea that a student can follow his or her own sequence in learning material rather than following a teacher's sequence. Students who have obtained knowledge of certain areas may skip those areas on move on to ones they have not learned. The concept of hypertext has been directly applied to the internet.
Hypertext can be found in other areas of everyday life other than the internet such as ATMs. Different people may access different pages of information based on what they're goal is at the ATM. A person making a deposit will see different information than a person trying to withdraw cash. A person who speaks a different language can view the same set of information in his or her native language.
Jean Baudrillard coins the phrase "hyperreal" in the early 80's. The idea that we are moving our lives from the physical realm into a virtual realm. At the time, he is talking about television, but his ideas are if anything more relevant today than they were nearly 25 years ago.
Hyperreality is becoming more and more present in our lives today. The booming popularity of movies and the internet have allowed people to live out alternate realities with out experiencing the physical aspects of these realities. The advent of virtual reality rides like those found in Las Vegas or your local shopping mall allow people to go on an adventure while remaining geographically in the same location.
In Jorge Luis Borges's "The Garden of Forking Paths," Borges describes a labyrinth which has no end and has infinitely many possible directions to go. In the story, the labyrinth is a book which is arranged in a non-sequential manner, but this concept can be applied to the internet as well. A person can take infinitely many paths on the ever growing internet. People can arrive at the same page but from different locations. DHTML allows two different people to see the same page with different information.
This concept reminded me of the television show "Sliders," where a group of people travel to alternate realities in the same time period that they are in. The alternate realities all differ in some way. Some are more similar than others. In one world, people no longer interact in the physical world. They live in a virutal reality world. In another world, none of the revolutions ever took place. The United States is still under British rule.
After WWII, Vanevar Bush published some papers explaining how there is too much information and describing a machine to deal with this problem. This machine he described is called "The Memex." It functions much like the internet does today except information was arranged by association. The path a user took formed a trail.
The most obvious example today of The Memex is the internet. The internet in some ways tries to solve to problem of distributing information, but the frequent lack of proper design tends to make many web pages add to the problem rather than subtract from it.