Jorge Luis Borges and Hypertext


In honor of Jorge Luis Borges‘ birthday, Google released a doodle representing, what I assume is, the interlocking, hexagonal world of “The Library of Babel” or, more generally, Borges’ “forking paths“:

In 2.1‘s special section on cryptotexts, Kane X. Faucher and Peter Schwenger reference “The Library of Babel” and other stories, such as “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius,” as examples of Borges’ advanced thinking vis-à-vis textual expression, consumption, and culture at-large. Some, like Stuart Moulthrop, have even read Borges’ 1941 novel The Garden of Forking Paths as the first hypertext novel. (My vote remains with Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy.)

Like other 20th century writers and thinkers — e.g., Walter Benjamin (Passagenwerk), Vannevar Bush (“As We May Think“), Ted Nelson, William Gibson (“Burning Chrome,” Neuromancer) — Borges, in his own, elegant way, presciently anticipated the development of an interlinked worldwide textual network. And I’ve long considered writing a post, similar to “Stein Language & SEO Moderne,” that investigates certain intersections between the Argentinian’s work and the modern hypermedia “litscape.”

While I might do so at some point, the investigation’s somewhat less pressing thanks to Danny Goodwin‘s Search Engine Watch article about the Google doodle: “Hypertext Visionary Jorge Luis Borges Celebrated with Google Logo(24 August 2011).

It’s a satisfying, well-written introductory read on the topic, one that’s well worth perusing before diving into JSTOR, Google Scholar, Hein, and other professional databases.

(In October 2011, the doodle will be posted, along with others from July-September 2011, at this permalink: Tomorrow, and until October, it will appear at this URL: Google also released a short video of the doodle.)

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Quimby Melton


Quimby is the founder and president of Studio Hyperset. He started Studio Hyperset in 2006 after studying Transatlantic literature and culture, new media, and humanities computing at the Universities of Georgia (AB, 00) and Nevada, Las Vegas (MA, 03; PhD, 08). He has a background in literary studies, media production, front-end development, and project management. His current primary duties involve helping clients frame solutions that meet their needs; scoping and managing Studio Hyperset's growth strategy and business development pipeline; finding and developing talent; and, most importantly, supporting the SH team.