4 Ways the Web is Changing Communications

The web is changing how we organize information in four ways:
  1. Taxonomies (think the Dewey Decimal System or biological classification) used to be necessary to organize information, but the web recognizes that categories are often fluid. Would my hypertext novella be found in the nonfiction, new media, prose or poetry section of a bookstore? The answer is neither and all four—it depends on who is looking for the book. With hyperlinks and tags, the web's architecture is primarily relational.
  2. We rarely enter websites via their splash pages and instead access the page we want via Google, Bing, or another search engine. Even though technology allows news to break faster and memes to spread virally, old information is not so much forgotten as pushed to the fringes. For instance, Google "Ryan Gosling" and three of the top six hits will be images from The Notebook, even though the movie is seven years old and Gosling has starred in a movie every year since (including 2010's Blue Valentine, which won two awards and was nominated for seventeen more). Since old information can be accessed as easily as new, the web is inherently nonlinear.
  3. With a blockbuster movie, a prime-time television show, or even a print book, the dialogue is one-way—from artist to audience. But the web has given consumers a voice and it rewards them for using it. If web content does not facilitate audience participation, surfers will take their attention elsewhere. The web is by nature interactive.
  4. Literary writing is largely absent from the web because designers have not yet found ways to humanistically display longer works. The scroll bar on the side of a browser window actually represents a technological regression (think Egyptian papyrus scrolls). Longer documents, unless intuitively organized, lose all the advantages of print books (the abilities to instantly jump from beginning to end and to see how far you have progressed in the text). Because screen reading can be somewhat uncomfortable, web writing tends to be digestible in shorter chunks (e.g., the length of a blog post).
For my creative writing senior project, I'm writing a prose-poetry hypertext novella—a book-length work organized as a website. My novella tries to takes advantage of the above properties. It's partly an homage to my pre-digital childhood and partly a collage of memories (our present encompasses our past). Think of it as a fictional Wikipedia or a digital choose-your-own-adventure—it's an experiment in nonlinear storytelling.

I'm hoping these guys will publish it.