Hyperglyphics: [re]Flexions on the Network of the TextUrban Dictionary.com defines hyperglyphics as
The modern version of hieroglyphics: what documents look like when they have been scrambled by file-transfer, for example, when email attachments open up as a chaos of hypertext markup, webdings, and other bits of symbolic junk. What code looks like to technophobes. Can be used to refer to nonsense more generally speaking. A useful claim for excusing your failure to attend to tasks.
I like the connotations of this popcult usage of the word because it suggests that technology has powerful effects on written text – that we have this text (a document, say) and when we upload it into a digitized environment, it is overwritten and rewritten with the code necessary to digitize it. Usually this process takes place smoothly and the file is transferred successfully – intact and looking the way it did when it was composed, all WYSIWIG’ed out and clear as a bell. However, sometimes the file transfer process goes awry – incompatible software somewhere along the line is usually the culprit – and the result is this gobbledegook that is meaningless to most people. The idea that the message most people can understand gets lost, changed, or damaged in the digital transfer is interesting to me because that is what I deal with every day in studying and teaching Web writing. The medium messes with the message and sometimes undermines even our best efforts to effect a smooth transfer of ideas to [Web] page and reader. Writing for the Web requires us to become familiar with the trappings and traps of digital media so that we can successfully transmit our ideas. This is what digital rhetoric is all about to me – an awareness of the way digital media affect language and our use of it to inform, enlighten, entertain, and persuade.
The other reason I like the term is that it is also a neologism that could be mobilized in a different way, a way I chose to define as a pictograph in the sense of a hieroglyph [OED definition: A hieroglyphic character; a figure of some object, as a tree, animal, etc., standing for a word (or, afterwards, in some cases, a syllable or sound), and forming an element of a species of writing found on ancient Egyptian monuments and records; thence extended to such figures similarly used in the writing of other races. Also, a writing consisting of characters of this kind)] in the title of my dissertation. I was thinking of the way fairy tale archetypes (in particular, the princess) and tropes are these little symbols or containers of meaning that both accumulate and cast off connotations and characteristics as they are constantly re-inscribed through rewritings and re-tellings. By changing the prefix hiero- to hyper-, I wanted to talk about the way the computer and hypertext can make that intertextuality more visible. When we see the connections, perhaps we see the bigger picture.
When the princess gets scrambled in postmodern retellings, she looks a lot like that nonsensical code that our computers spit back after a failed file transfer – unreadable, a bit frightening, monstrous as anything we cannot comprehend, define, put in its proper place. So I think hyperglyphics is as good a term as any to describe the enigmatic and difficult connection between language and our use of it (the traditional fields of rhetoric, composition, literature), and the digital media age that transforms the word and produces such abundance, excess, sense, and nonsense. Here there be monsters.