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Aarseth, Espen

Page history last edited by Will Hawes 13 years, 8 months ago

A New Definition of Text


A text is composed of scriptons, which are in turn composed of textons.  The order, meaning and translation of all the possible combinations and/or sequences of the textons (the expression of the text), are potentially infinite.  An example detailed in the article was the "Zardoz" film mixed reel scenario.  A new expression of the Zardoz film text was created by the mixed reels, however, it was still the same text, containing the same textons and scriptons, that it had always contained.  Due to the fact that the reels were interchanged, the film was viewed in a different order and therefore, the film's (text's) expression had changed.  


A text is not necessarily what we may read out of it, nor is it entirely what someone wrote into it.  It is a different thing that is only partially realized through it's script.  The definition of a text is not limited to merely linear texts; it can and does include non linear texts. 


Texton and Scripton


A texton is the smallest unit of information. It can be binary, numeric, or alphabetical, or it can be a composite of any of these non inclusive categories.  Textons can be grouped to form scriptons.  A scripton is an unbroken sequence of one or more textons as they are taken or interpreted from the text from which they are sourced.  Example:  Given a deck of Tarot cards: each card in the context of the Tarot deck to which it belongs can be considered a texton.  Further grouping of the tarot cards (more than just one tarot card) in any order can be considered a scripton. 


The key of understanding literature is how the texton and scripton are connected.


Non Linear Text


Non linear text is considered to be interactive.  It can be described in terms of four feedback functions performed by the text consumer: 


Explorative – The user determines which path they will take within the text

Role Playing  - The user has a strategic responsibility for a character in a world described by the text

Configurative - Textons are chosen or designed by user, allowing the user the opportunity to configure / create a new text and/or text expression.

Poetic function – users actions dialogue or design are aesthetically motivated




Hypertext is the direct connection/transition from one position in a text to another.  The main feature of hypertext is it's discontinuity, defined as the displacement of the user's position in the text to another (non sequential) location elsewhere in the text.   




  • Difference between old media and new media interaction with text
  • New media by definition needs to have a non-trivial interaction with the text
  • Not limited to new media. Some non-new media examples are iChing, Tarot cards, and House of Leaves.




  • Computation that helps produce the text
  • A cybertext is a machine for the production of a variety of expressions which will be changed based on textons and scriptons one chooses.
  • Different expressions are not just ambiguity, but entirely different textons and scriptons


Cybertext and Ergodic text are not just limited to the difference between the digital and the print narrative.  It all hinges on the actions of the texton and scripton, regardless of media. Hypertext is not a good example of either Ergodic or Cybertext because the only interaction is clicking on available hyperlinks.  In hypertext you can only start where the author wants you to start and proceed in the way the author intended. Therefore, the author of a hypertext has a lot more control than that of a book.




Aarseth's Variates for Text Classification







Wikipedia Articles









External Links







(Dave: Maybe add in more examples to clarify.)

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