Go wild in the hypercountry

Over on TNN I recently noted Jill Walker's concept of a feral hypertext. She has just added some further information about the subject to her blog: jill/txt what is feral hypertext?
I find the notion appealing. Her intent is, in many ways, to look at activities such as tagging as a form of uncontrolled social hypertext. From a transliteracy perspective, I think it hints that web2.0 is creating shifts in our understanding of web literacy that only become clear over time. There have been no end of debates about whether the web is "truly" a hypertext. Jill's insight stirs the pot rather nicely. A tag cloud is nothing but a list of links with some basic formatting. Due to Vander Wal's initial framing of tagging in terms of "folksonomy" we have tended to think of tagging as a form of categorisation. Tag clouds however hint towards narrative and identity and Jill's notion of feral hypertext perhaps hints at one way to approach this.
Fascinating stuff, if you ask me.


For those still reading; I’ve challenged my partner to create a tag cloud cushion. A tag cushion I guess. Not a feral one as I expect it to stay indoors. What would you tag a cushion with?

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4 thoughts on “Go wild in the hypercountry

  1. Do you mean a physical cushion? With tags – embroidered or printed onto it, or woven into it? What a lovely thought. I might need some tag cloud art in my office, come to think of it.
    Thanks for your comments about feral hypertext. I like your point about how tagging can be seen as categorisation or as links, narrative, hypertext – because I began my research in hypertext I probably have a tendency to see everything as hypertext, but in this case I definitely think hypertext is relevant, and yes, valuable to see it as more than just categorisation.

  2. Jill, Bruce is too modest to mention it, but he has used post-it strips to create a tagcloud instead of the usual nameplate on display outside the door of the office he shares with other PART researchers. And now cushions. What next, I wonder?

  3. Jill, I think she’s mulling over how to embroider it. Such things are a mystery to me. Wouldn’t mind betting that someone, somewhere, is already selling tag cloud t-shirts.
    On the more serious point, I do think it is important to be really clear when we’re talking about tag clouds, tagging and hypertext. It is fascinating to see how the tag cloud visualisation brings my delicious tags to life in a way that a list doesn’t. It seems, somehow, to tell a story in which every word is a hyperlink.
    I did once see a delicious tag cloud where the user had tagged in such a way as to make a statement out of the tags. I never had a chance to see what sites were linked but it indicates interesting ways of being creative with such things.

  4. Damn, why didn’t I think of the post-it tag cloud! Now I’ve got a project!
    I like too your point about the differences between a list of links and a cloud…

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