Lexias and links

In electronic mediums, fragments or sections of text are called lexias, often connected by links within the text. In print literature, lexias, or vignettes, are also used to create this fragmentation, as discussed about Coover’s stories. Separate vignettes are also presented in Alan Lightman’s Einstein’s Dreams, where each section is a separate dream that stands on its own, yet linked together, they create the overall meaning of the text. Hopscotch even uses links to direct the reader to and from the supplemental chapters.

In hypertext, Landow says, “Electronic linking, which gives the reader a far more active role than is possible with books, has certain major effects” (Hypertext 3.0 109). By tying sections of text together with a link, there is a connection made, and meaning created by juxtaposing lexias, and depending on what is read next. This is another dimension of elements like footnotes, intertextual references, choose your own adventure books, but the possibilities for these connections, as well as the stakes, are greater with electronic mediums: “Many who first encounter the notion of hypertext assume that linking does it all, and in an important sense they are correct: linking is the most important fact about hypertext, particularly as it contrasts to the world of print technology” (6). Like Vannevar Bush’s idea that we should learn from the organic web trails and associations of the brain, links and lexias seem to suit our thinking and learning processes. To reinforce Bush’s notion, Ted Nelson says in Computer Lib/Dream Machines, “Our goal should be nothing less than REPRESENTING THE TRUE CONTENT AND STRUCTURE OF HUMAN THOUGHT” (326).


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