English 518 Course Blog

February 12, 2007

Jill Walker: Feral hypertext: when hypertext literature escapes control.

Filed under: Uncategorized — missmoose @ 8:03 pm

This article by Jill Walker proved to be quite interesting.  She aptly points out that computers were never originally designed for common everyday use and that through technology and our evolving society we have been able to “tame” and repurpose them into useful ways for which they were not developed or evolved for.  In the process we have ‘domesticated’ the technology.  Just like our pets, computers have become and integrel part of our daily lives. 

The seeds of hypertext were cultivated with Vannevar Bush fifty years ago and have slowly grown into the domesticated forms that we now use in our daily lives.  Like the Wiki project that we are working on in class, Walker suggest that when readers can go in and correct, re-write or edit pre-existing texts, they become ferel or starts to run wild as she states. 

Walker also suggests that the web log, such as the one we are all currently using, provides the clearest example of truly ‘ferel, literary hypertext today.’  She feels that most blogs are ‘obedient’, but that some have the potential to become truly ferel.  I have to question if hypertext had not become somewhat ferel and undomesticated would we have the armory of technology at our disposal that is currently available, would any of us be taking a graduate course on media and technology? 



  1. I’m not sure what you mean by the “armory of technology” here, but my guess is that Walker would agree with you that hypertext’s status as “feral” is what makes it interesting. The example I’ve given of my experiemnts in blogging are good examples of texts becoming “undomestciated.”

    Personally, I’m interested in the conversations that arise when these unexpected interactions take place.

    Comment by chutry — February 13, 2007 @ 2:22 pm | Reply

  2. By armory of technolgy I was suggesting that if people had not colored outside the lines and ventured to do different things and express different idea through feral means, great minds may have never collaborated and the Internet and cyberspace would not have the offerings (which are unlimited) that are available to us now.

    Comment by missmoose — February 13, 2007 @ 3:46 pm | Reply

  3. I really hate the argument about intentions….”the computer was never intended to be used by everyone everyday”…scientists don’t intend for their inventions to become weapons…etc etc. The Bible wasn’t intended for everyone to read…but rather scholars were supposed to read it and spread the message to the people…it wasn’t until the spread of literacy that everyone began reading it for themselves. Intent means nothing. What actually happens is what matters, and how we react and adjust.

    Comment by shenra — February 13, 2007 @ 9:41 pm | Reply

  4. I understand your idea of ferel hypertext. It can be quite interesting but yet controversial at the same time. Without any supervision, bloggers are enabled to write anything they wish. I am an advocate for freedom of speech, but should we imply manners with this proclamation of freedom? If my “intentions” are to say something rude and absurd should I be allowed to do that through a blog?

    Comment by tmitchell01 — February 14, 2007 @ 12:27 am | Reply

  5. […] of feral hypertext in the last few days (Beth Kantor, Tags/Network/Narrative, a discussion in English 518’s Course Blog – or see Technorati’s up-to-date list), so I thought I should provide a brief description of […]

    Pingback by jill/txt » what is feral hypertext? — March 10, 2007 @ 2:24 pm | Reply

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