12. Is this the End of Hypertext?: Hotel Websites' Return to Lineality
Martin Kaltenbacher [+]
University of Salzburg
Perhaps the most outstanding quality of online texts is their network character, which is established through the linking of text or other modalities within a website and outside this website to other webs. It is this particular feature – this linking "in some way other than by the default sequential convention of ordinary reading" (Lemke 2002: 300) – that has shaped such texts as non-linear constructs and has created the metaphor of the internet as a three-dimensional web. While typical internet texts may still have a fairly clear beginning in the top left corner of the homepage of a website, they can neither be read along a pre-composed reading path, nor do they have a distinct end. Quite on the contrary, they are not even designed to be read as a whole and in a particular order but are composed as databases and networks containing much more information than necessary. Recent trends discernible in hotel websites, however, seem to reflect a turning point in this design strategy which results in a return in text composition to a traditional, more linear structure. This claim shall here be substantiated with the analyses of two different versions of two hotel websites: of Hotel Sacher in Vienna and The Sheraton in Salt Lake City, and of their corresponding representations on the hotel reservation platform booking.com.