According to Max Horkheimer, Director of the Frankfurt School’s Institute for Social Research, a critical theory is adequate only if it meets three criteria: it must be explanatory, practical, and normative, all at the same time. That is, it must explain what is wrong with current social reality, identify the actors to change it, and provide both clear norms for criticism and achievable practical goals for social transformation.
Hypertext has been promoted as a vehicle that will change literary reading, especially through its recovery of images, supposed to be suppressed by print, and through the choice offered to the reader by links. Evidence from empirical studies of reading, however, suggests that these aspects of hypertext may disrupt reading. In a study of readers who read either a simulated literary hypertext or the same text in linear form, we found a range of significant differences: these suggest that hypertext discourages the absorbed and reflective mode that characterizes literary reading.