Carter on space for reading

Locke Carter remarks that hypertext "authors must overcome the expectation of order" (Carter 2000, 85). They must give up control to the temporal experience of the reader.

For argumentative hypertext, Carter employs a "stasis theory" of argument according to which it is not the temporal sequence of steps that is crucial, but the presence of a set of required elements within a space that the reader explores.

Carter argues that authors should provide "friendly, memorable spaces and paths for readers to traverse. The grounds upon which an argument takes place must be constructed so that its readers feel like wandering around, and wherever they go, they learn about the topic, and are convinced" (Carter 2000, 89).

But he adds that "It is also important not to allow readers to wander aimlessly" (Carter 2000, 89). Random sequence soon becomes boring. As Carter says, "Readers assume the author will eventually reveal important parts of an argument and not waste our time, and the author expects that the readers will explore the entire hypertext, or at least those nodes that are easy to get to" (Carter 2000, 87).

Carter's first expectation, that the author will make the structure available, is standard for expository and argumentative hypertexts, but has its own ambiguities.

The second expectation, that the reader will explore the whole, seems deeply problematic for large hypertexts. Is such dedication and time from readers likely, especially from those trained to dip into texts for bits of information, or those who arrive from Google with no plans to explore a large text? And should the author presume that the goal of the reader is to share the author's presumed total vision?