January 4, 2006

Stretchtext Semi-Extended Remix

by Nick Montfort · , 11:13 am

Years ago, early in the morning, I encountered a man in the Oslo train station who gave me a CD containing what might have been the sounds of a lake of robot jellyfish attaining a prolonged ecstasy, or perhaps plotting the overthrow of an oppressive regime [mp3, 971kb].

This same individual has just written “Stretchtext lite utstrakt / Stretchtext Not Stretched Far.” (Note the “English” link in the upper left – GTxA readers will probably want to avoid clicking on this accidentally and replacing the original Norwegian text with English.) This is an amusing and current stretchtextual commentary on Nelson’s concept, most interesting for its implemented comments on interface (turn sarcasm on and off, expand the text but add only noise rather than useful detail). Some interface details don’t work so well, such as the too-subtle color indicating what texts can be expanded and the fact that it’s impossible to see, at a glance, if digressions and sarcasm or enabled or disabled. Some other capabilities, like the pop-up images and the ability to expand notes, may not be evident enough at first, too. But for a self-reflective, over-instrumented hypertext, it’s quite nice, and it draws some potentially provocative connections between game design and hypertext forms.

One Response to “Stretchtext Semi-Extended Remix”

  1. josh g. Says:

    Very interesting essay / experiment. One thing I noticed while reading is that I quickly went to turn everything on. The effect was that I could mentally pick and choose whether to read the meandering nonsense, digressions, and sarcasm as I went along, rather than having to find something to click later and backtrack over the same page.

    I tend to think that there’s an efficiency issue there, rather than just a blind reversion to linear narrative style, but that might just be my narrative-trained mind talking.

    As long as you’re reading this essay in a web browser, you’ve had to click at least once after loading this page to arrive at this sentence; this sentence is something you’ve asked for.

    Is clicking a Next link any more of a conscious choice than turning a page in a book to the average web reader?

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