Friday, June 22, 2007

At the River's Edge

River's Edge
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Aeons ago, at a library conference, I attended a lecture about something the speaker called “hypertext”. I cannot remember his name, or the name of his product, which was due to come out soon on several floppy disks. I think it had something to do with history. He was working on an early Macintosh machine. I could not understand what he was getting so excited about, since it was obvious to me that you could not even get the contents of a standard encyclopedia on such a handful of disks. Thus if you were going to start a project using this concept, your area of interest would have to be very limited, not to say TINY. I believe he used the word ‘hyperlinks” and rhapsodized about the limitless future we could look forward to when knowledges were so interconnected. He seemed pretty daft to me—in a class with the very odd jobless people who sometimes expounded their weird ideas to me during slow times at my reference desk. Intelligent, but daft. . .

I have spent a good part of my discretionary time today following the trail of a serendipitously-encountered Flickerite (maproomsystems -- go ahead and look him up!) who turned out to have a web presence, an eBay account for deaccessioning things that have been digitized, an interest in the past and its artifacts (from buildings to ephemera) very interesting and odd collections (postcards about alligator attacks on human beings). Following the trail of his hyperlinks, I became more and more interested. He is all over the MAP! His is not the sort of mind that would interest everyone, but it certainly drew my attention. He doesn’t seem to have a big following on Flickr the way some interesting creative photographers do. His photographs are very good, not in a particularly conventional way, but extremely varied in technique, concept and viewpoint. Perhaps because one of his projects was a daily self-portrait, some of this following links felt a teeny bit like stalking on my part, even though the portraits often only had a finger, a foot, the shadow of hair, or some other small trace. I kept turning up things that captured my attention. He is interested in things that are interesting, and also in their artistic manifestations--it is a little hard to explain clearly what I mean and I will have to think about it some more.
This is part of my project on the traces of lives: memory and artifact that aren’t the whole thing, or even the most important thing, about human beings. But it is a thing--these traces--that interests me very much. Now I have to learn how to make my own hyperlinks, so I can make connections for someone else to follow.

Good night. I had to rewrite a lot of this after I closed the wrong window. Now it is already tomorrow.

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