Cybertext was coined by speculative fiction poetry author Bruce Boston. It was the title of a book he published in 1992, which contained science-fictional poetry... Cybertext is the organization of text in order to analyze the influence of the medium as an integral part of the literary dynamic, as defined by Espen Aarseth in 1997. Aarseth defined it as a type of ergodic literature where user traverses the text by doing non-trivial work... The concept of cybertext offers a way to expand the reach of literary studies to include phenomena that are perceived today as foreign or marginal.[3] In Aarseth's work, cybertext denotes the general set of text machines which, operated by readers, yield different texts for reading.[6] For example, in Raymond Queneau's book Hundred Thousand Billion Poems, each reader will encounter not just poems arranged in a different order, but different poems depending on the precise way in which they turn the sections of page.[7] Cybertext can also be used as a broader alternative for hypertext, particularly as it critiques the critical responses to the latter. Aarseth, together with literary scholars such as N. Katherine Hayles, maintains that cybertext cannot be applied according to the conventional author-text-message paradigms since it is a computational engine.

Ergodic literature is a term coined by Espen J. Aarseth in his book Cybertext—Perspectives on Ergodic Literature. The term is derived from the Greek words ergon, meaning "work", and hodos, meaning "path".[1] It is associated with the concept of cybertext and describes a cybertextual process that includes a semiotic sequence that the concepts of "reading" do not account for... Aarseth's book contains the most commonly cited definition of ergodic literature: "In ergodic literature, nontrivial effort is required to allow the reader to traverse the text. If ergodic literature is to make sense as a concept, there must also be nonergodic literature, where the effort to traverse the text is trivial, with no extranoematic responsibilities placed on the reader except (for example) eye movement and the periodic or arbitrary turning of pages." In addition to the above definition, Aarseth explained ergodic literature as two-fold: a normal text and a machine capable of producing several manifestations of a text.

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