Michael Wesch's youtube post is interesting in that it tries to make key distinctions between the use of traditional manuscript against the use of hypertext, but it's misleading in a number of ways I find particularly troubling.  Let's be blog-a-rific and not compose these in any meaningful, synthesized way, and just list 'em out in the order they pop from the fingers.

1.) The fade from the white page of pencil to hypertext can be interpreted in one of two ways.  The first is that there is a continuum between paper-manuscript and digital cultures, and the second is that there's a stark break.  You watch as the actor moves from saying that digital text is different because it moves or can be changed in some strange way, but the editing continues until linking/hyperlinking/hypertext is settled on as the key distinction.  Unfortunately what we just saw in the paper-manuscript suggestion was already doing a great job saying that this is not the case.  There is no Web 1.0 or 2.0.  Each set of technologies, whether keyboard, text editor and browser or pencil, paper, and printed page have their own means of remediating the dynamic functions depicted in that video.  Read Heather Jackson's Marginalia and then tell me manuscript culture didn't have the same functionality as digital text.  Both are compositional forms where the method of composition is the same as the method of publication, both typically allow avenues for easy coauthorship by readers/consumers/audiences, etc.  

The differences seem obvious enough, and they are useful ones.  Digital media (with enough infrastructure -- server/proc speed & RAM, software, bandwidth) can quickly scale to allow for "flash mobs'" worth of interest, for example, whereas books with particularly impressive marginalia are much harder to share with millions at once.  Yet these are differences, not strengths deserving 1980's style synthesized background music promising intellectual liberation.  One allowed for the flourishing of the Tuesday Club, and the other allowed for Matt Drudge.  The real difference between the two is the ability to move from a controlled, known audience to a potentially anonymous one, which I often rant about when people try to argue that privacy has been lost online.  It's not so much that any of this is privacy but the expectation of anonymity... what are the ramifications for culture whose cities include the potential to walk down the street arguing personal matters with your spouse knowing that the comments aren't likely to be heard by anyone which you know personally?  It would seem digital communication is only now catching up with the changes in the gross urban populations that have increasingly become the rule. Certainly the community of the shared gossip fence has died (and the gossip has likely gone digital without it).

Which moves us from unearned break number one (as it becomes clear Wesch would rather argue a paradigm shift (meaning a quantum leap) between the abilities of paper-manuscript and digital text rather than something that does the same work differently) to unearned break number two -- the video's implication that HTML and XML are such totally different animals -- he trivially makes the case that you can't consider the format without the human behind it (a concept key for understanding any digital standard, like HTML, XML, and their SGML brethren), but the impression for the uninitiated is a dangerously misleading one, which I guess I'll talk about later. In brief. to say that HTML caused a static Web 1.0 and that XML allows for a dynamic Web 2.0 where form completely separates from content is horrendously oversimplistic. Makes for a groovy video, but does not, as presented, invite needed inquiry. (And as if Web 2.0 as currently conceived is an improvement...) It also tends to overlook that html was initially conceived as a means of providing markup whose display would be regulated by the way the browser's user set the preferences. I should find an older browser, but for now you can see a few vestiges in Netscape Communicator 4.77, which I had handy.

EDIT: Here's a picture from Netscape 2.02. The operative option is highlighted (and it's in v4 as well) -- "Always use mine."

-- I'd also add that one of the biggest changes from my undergrad days to today is the rigid policing of access to academic journals. Fifteen years ago, anyone could walk off of the street into their state university and have, within reason, the same journal access that their university professors had. Now, access to online journals are very carefully tracked, thanks to the power of databases and digital delivery/publication systems, and online-only subscriptions mean that access can be stolen away at any moment, shoved back into an exclusive virtual rare book room.

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