Signs, Links, and the Semiotics of Hypertext,

Abstract

This paper examines the semiotic nature of the hypertext document from two points of view, both of which are based on Roland Barthes’ ELEMENTS OF SEMIOLOGY. From the more conventional point of view, the hypertext document is discussed with respect to the four areas analyzed by Barthes: the distinction between language and speech, the relationship between the signifier and the signified, the syntagmatic and associative relationships among signs, and the hierarchical embedding of signs through connotation and metalanguage. The second examination is a hypertext document designed in such a way that the reader may EXPERIENCE Barthes’ elements of semiology, rather than serve as a passive receiver of his exposition. The result is an interactive environment in its own right, entitled “Signs and Links,” that, through the experience of interaction, engages the reader in the definition of the conceptual space of Barthes’ text.