On Mary-Louise Craven's "Is Argumentative Hypertext Possible?"
I think perhaps a more important question is why does it matter? Is it like saying, oh, can you have a newspaper that's an argument, or an opera? You might, I guess, but unless you can convince me that it's a more useful tool for making an argument, I'm not going to be very interested.
To problematize "argumentative": isn't all text an argument but with (often) the purpose of the argument hidden or tacit?
Mary-Louise's course -- with students' creative web pages -- addresses a problem we raised in response to Jamie's and Wendy's presentations -- the problem of contrived assignments used merely to demonstrate knowledge and create a grade. I would think that when students write this hypertext, they would learn to read the internet more critically.
The genres valorized by academe tend to be single-author or at least single-voiced texts. HT implies links and branches, but often these seem contrived in monologic texts that have been ported over to the web. For most academic texts, hypertext is just the wrong medium.
I don't understand why there is even a question about whether or not there can be argumentative hypertext -- why on earth not?? Of course, I am predisposed to think "everything's an argument," but even without that frame of reference, I can't see any reason for thinking that it would be any harder to write an argumentative hypertext than it is to write, say, fictional hypertext. I would also argue that even "mere" information- based hypertexts make arguments.
I'm interested in the notion that the ways form is content are more apparent in hypertext than in traditional text. perhaps I could use hypertext as a place/case to help students understand how form/content is a false dichotomy (of the Cartesian sort).
Mary-Louise puts her finger on a significant problem: there are lots of models of commercial and informative (list based) HT but very few models of sustained argument.
I welcome ML's and Doug Brent's explorations of hypertextual thought and discourse if only to dispel some of these myths and provide navigational guidelines to exploring the benefits and powerful possibilities of hypertextual scholarship.
Perhaps we should have a conversation about the practice of inkshedding instead of regarding it as received wisdom and unquestionable (not how to do it, but whether and why). Also, I think that inkshedding is a genre -- in order to do it "well," I need strategies, I need to plan, to consider my audience and purpose. So in fact it feels constrained rather than freeing.