TEXT BITES

Because readers of hypertext are constantly navigating through sections of text, writing is forced into small 'bits' of highly- topical information. Instead of each page-full of text having its set place in the whole, hypertexts (like this one) collect isolated fragments. "The text is composed and presented in self-contained chunks, fragments, blocks" (Bernhardt, 159). Though MUD communication is written, therefore producing MORE WELL-THOUGHT-OUT REMARKS, these remarks must be confined to tight spaces. Of course there is nothing stopping MUDers from writing long treatisies, but the structure of this textual world favors smaller 'text bites' that can be read quickly -- just as television favors video and 'sound bites' -- so the reader can learn what they need and move on. As studies show, (written) comments on computer-conferencing systems are more focused than similar responses in face-to-face interactions. This is likely due not only to the fact that responses are written instead of spoken, but also that the hypertext's non-linear structure pressures participants to stick to the topic and not wander off into irrelevant rambling. In MUDs, this means that utterances are in some ways not as rich as their spoken counterparts. This deficiency seems made up for, however, by the 'user-friendly' ease of access of hypertext.