The original version of this post was created for a wiki assignment in November 2013 for IT 546 (Instructional Technology and Education) – bolded text reflects links to other wiki entries in the IT 546 wiki.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the earliest origin of this word is attributed to T. H. Nelson, [1] who defined hypertext in 1965 as “a body of written or pictorial material interconnected in such a complex way that it could not conveniently be presented or represented on paper.” [2]

N. Katherine Hayles credits Vannevar Bush with the invention of “hypertext” in 1945, although Bush imagined a system that “was not electronic but mechanical” [3] and requiresa new profession of trail blazers, those who find delight in the task of establishing useful trails through the enormous mass of the common record.” [4]

In 2007, Michael Wesch describes how hypertext can link [5] “virtually anywhere, anywhere virtually, anywhere virtual,” and allow data to be exported free of formatting restrictions, so web content creators do not have to know “complicated code” before uploading content to the internet. [6]

Hypertext is described by Robin Goodfellow as a form of new media that “could be used to disrupt and make subject to analysis the traditional conventions of academic writing, particularly the essay, and the power relations that sustained this as a form of knowledge production in the classroom,” although “optimism about the inherent capacity of digital communication to nourish critical social awareness has faded somewhat in the face of the rapid growth of digital popular-culture media which allied itself to commercial and political interests that were themselves ideologically dominant.” [7] However, the mutable nature of hypertext can facilitate dynamic scholarly collaboration that may “retake ground currently claimed by special interest groups and public relations firms.” [8]


[1] Nelson, T. H. (Dec 5 2011). “Theodor Holm Nelson: On the Information Superhighway, Destination Unknown.” The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/06/science/theodor-holm-nelson-on-the-information-superhighway-destination-unknown.html.

[2] OED Online. (Sept 2013). “hypertext, n.”. (quoting Nelson, T.H. (1965). Proceedings 20th Nat. Conf. Association Computing Machinery 96). Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com.ezproxy.library.wwu.edu/view/Entry/243461

[3] Hayles, N.K. (2004). (citing Bush, Vannevar, (1945) “As We May Think,” Atlantic Monthly, July, 101–8. Print Is Flat, Code Is Deep: The Importance of Media-Specific Analysis. Poetics Today, 25(1), 67-90. (UBC electronic holdings: Project Muse.). http://www.cws.illinois.edu/IPRHDigitalLiteracies/Hayles.pdf

[4] Vannevar, B. (1945) “As We May Think,” Atlantic Monthly, July, 101–8. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1945/07/as-we-may-think/303881/?single_page=true

[5] Wesch, M. (Mar 8 2007). The Machine is Us/ing Us. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLlGopyXT_g

[6] Wesch, M. (Mar 8 2007).

[7] Goodfellow, R. (2011) (citing Lemke 2005). Literacy, literacies and the digital in higher education, Teaching in Higher Education, 16:1, 131-144, 139. DOI: 10.1080/13562517.2011.54412. Available at: http://oro.open.ac.uk/26758/

[8] Trottier, L. and Izhikevich, E. (Nov 4 2013). Wikifying Scholarly Canons. Scholarpedia Blog. http://blog.scholarpedia.org/2013/11/04/wikifying-scholarly-canons/ via Anonymous. (Nov 9, 2013). Could We “Wikify” Scholarly Canons? Slashdot. http://news.slashdot.org/story/13/11/09/2325220/could-we-wikify-scholarly-canons (“‘We can enormously extend the record; yet even in its present bulk we can hardly consult it’ wrote Vannevar Bush in a 1945 Atlantic Monthly article.” [Bush, Vannevar, 1945 “As We May Think,” Atlantic Monthly, July, 101–8.])


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