Editing and Debugging

Ed Blackham answers our post on Editing Hypertext with an insightful look at how software debugging relates to electronic literature and the issues therein.

Your description of the problem made it sound similar to the the problem of debugging a program. We write (or sometimes auto-generate) tests, and we have tools that try to assess the quality of our test suites by (among other things) pointing us at areas of the code that no test has yet looked at. But even those tools can't really get at the fact that a line of code that's innocuous when arrived at along one path is deadly when arrived at along a different path. […]
If indeterminacy is part of the hypertext, of course, it all gets very difficult. […] It's all very fine to say in a postmodern (or pre-Socratic) sort of way that no two readers ever read the same text (or no reader ever reads the same text twice), but what can fairly be said of a "text" whose words make this philosophical conceit literally true?