Note: For access to the full function set within this narrative (the map described below, bookmarking), the reader must register with the site.
A Show of Hands is a hypertext narrative constructed from short textual snapshots, centered on a group of Mexican immigrants in Southern California, exploring questions of family and border crossings. The lexias often interlink via these family connections, reflecting a genealogical-like tree structure. Similarly, as the text's creative concept is drawn from a set of images of people's hands, it lends credence to this textual experience of flipping through a family photo album, paralleling the story's focus on familial themes.
Built via the online story engine Literatronic (http://www.literatronic.com), the lexias connect not through a network of equidistant hypertext links, but rather through a tree of related distances: readers access the "next page" in the story via a list of links at the bottom of each short lexia, ranked according to its relation to the current section of text. This list frequently requires the reader to step away from the engagement with the text in order to make a decision about it. As the reader progresses through the narrative, a unique record called a "map" is constructed, recording the lexias the user has visited. Once the reader has read a page, it will no longer appear as an available link in the narrative, though the reader may reactivate the section through the map. The reader may also use the map to jump to any section of the narrative.
The "map" is presents as a checklist, listing the lexias in a numerical order (one would assume assigned by the author), and checking off the lexias the reader has already visited. Despite the stated importance of the relational distances between lexias, the map does not display these relationships.
Conceptually, this structure attempts to relieve some of the frustration that results from the seemingly random paths other hypertext narratives often employ. By following links to closely related lexias, and thus following story paths for closely related characters and storylines, the reader is able to form a more cohesive mental story structure.
The author provides supplemental material about this narrative at http://www-rcf.usc.edu/~mcmarino/ashow.html