When hypertext is better

As more readers become accustomed to hypertext, they may feel unsatisfied when scrolling through linear stories formatted as if for print media.

Browsing through nonlinear hypertexts is not without drawbacks, however. Users often describe a disorientation: They repeatedly lose their place or forget to follow up on their intentions; they wonder if they are missing anything (Foss, 1989).

Readers who have spent their lives "in love with books" may always feel ambivalent toward hypertext (Murray, 1997). But their mixed feelings do not license writers to ignore the ways hypertext improves upon current forms for delivering information.

Hypertext enables writers to skirt issues raised by the use of predefined writing formulas such as the inverted pyramid of traditional news stories which present facts in decreasing order of importance, the narrative path fixed and loaded with value judgments. Some newspaper readers stop after a few paragraphs, satisfied that they've read the "most important" information. But what they got is the part of the story the writer believes is most important. Other readers skip through an article, trying to find a perspective relevant to them.

In contrast to linear stories with distinct beginnings, middles, and endings, hypertexts generally have multiple possible entry points, many internal threads, and no clear ending (Murray, 1997). This makes hypertext especially suitable for stories with numerous components. Unlimited storytelling space makes it so no component need be omitted in the process, which can lead to more objective journalism.

With a good hypertext, readers can foreground their own perspectives by first clicking links to the parts of the story they see as more important, then reading the remaining parts in any order (Fredin, 1997).

In a unilinear story (i.e. print tradition), readers, reading conventionally, see first what the writer thinks matters most. In a well-crafted hypertext, readers immediately select what matters most to them. They spend less time sifting through facts as filtered through the writer's mind. Readers' choices allow them to avoid a form of information overload brought on by the choices of the writer.