Nietzsche on hypertext

On: October 8, 2007
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About Maarten van Sprang
Maarten has a Bachelor degree in Communication and Multimedia Design and is working for Humanique as an interaction designer. Right now he is also finishing his thesis on the New Media Master at the University of Amsterdam. He's is very interested in new media (obviously), gaming and music.


This week’s assignment made us compare new media issues to Nietzsche quotes. I came across the following quote:

This quote immediately triggered the post-modern idea of differance, that all meaning gets postponed and that one will never get to the original intended meaning of a message. When you transfer this derridian idea to the internet, you will find that because of the intertextual behaviour of the web makes it really hard, if not impossible, to trace texts back to their original source. If you takes this fact as a given, it will theoretically devaluate all hypertext to interpretations, unless they cite their original non-digital (thus verifiable) sources.

The emergence of the blogosphere as a cultural and technological phenomenon makes it incredibly easy to write hypertext, and with that, it makes it very easy to copy-paste text from other digital sources without citing them. In my opinion a great deal of online texts are still sourcelessness, but the format of weblogs also adds a new form of criticism and fact-checking to online publications.

Because the majority of the weblogs have the ability to post comments to articles, readers can comment and tell the author that he or she forgot to cite their sources. As the web holds every single expertise in the world, the chance is likely that you will not get away with claiming text as your own. Web 2.0 gives the user the chance to write anything he likes, but this system also has a self-regulatory mechanism build into it, which gives the hypertext ‘interpretations’ just a bit more credibility than before the blog-boom.

An other technology which helps to give back the web’s credibility, is the addition of trackbacks to websites. As a trackbacks traces the links back to the original website, it’s a lot easier to keep track of original digital sources. It’s still not as Ted Nelson had imagined the web but it does gives authors a better understanding and control over their publications.

I acknowledge the fact the I deliberately interpreted Nietzsche’s words to fit my description of the post-modern absence or postponing of meaning rather than the idea that facts do not exist because they are made by humans, each with their specific individual perspective, and therefore automatically are devaluated to interpretation.

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