- There is a sort of literary genre of hypertext which seems very widespread, which is that of autobiography or writing personal Web pages. Do you think this kind of autobiographical hypertext writing has some particular features which deserve attention? Do you think it changes somehow the way we can write about ourselves?
David Kolb - I think it has. It is not so much the hypertext as the fact that anyone can publish on the Web, that everyone has a printing press, as it were, and therefore can make their life available. What the hypertext then adds is the ability to add pictures, to quickly write, and change quickly if need be, and to produce fairly good visual effects without too much effort. Although not all Web pages with personal autobiography have such good effects. There is another thing involved: if you look at literary hypertext, even if published on CD-ROM or disk and therefore rather incomplete in themselves, you see that autobiography often shows up. Not necessarily that the story or the characters are autobiographical, but rather that the author inserts autobiographical segments which you may find your way to. In one hypertext story called Woe by Michael Joyce you suddenly find yourself reading something that says: "Well, I am writing this at 2 o’clock in the afternoon on a Macintosh computer. It is a very cold day and I’ve been writing since 9 in the morning... ". Suddenly you have the author, truly or not, bringing in an autobiographical element. It is very tempting. I have found myself when writing hypertext putting in a few self-reflections questioning the form of what I was writing. It is a move which seems very natural because you can always link off in different directions. I think the other attraction of the Web, and I’ve seen this when my students write autobiographical things, is the feeling that what you do is suddenly available to a very large audience. Perhaps not too many people will see it but it is available. It is not like a personal diary which you keep or even something which you make to show your parents or your fellow classmates; it is open and that takes on either solemnity or a sense of fun, depending how you do it, which can be quite stimulating.
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