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Hypertext: An Introduction and Survey

Article in Computer · October 1987


DOI: 10.1109/MC.1987.1663693 · Source: IEEE Xplore

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SURVEY & TUTORIAL SERIES

Hypertext: An Introduction
and Survev J

Jeff Conklin
Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corp.

ost modern computer sys- design issues that go into fashioning a


tems share a foundation hypertext environment.
which is built of directories
containing files. The files consist of text
which is composed of characters. The text
Hypertext systems
that is stored within this hierarchy is linear. feature machine-
For much of our current way of doing graphically (as labelled tokens) and in the
business, this linear organization is suffi- supported links-both database (as pointers). (See Figure I .)
cicnt. Howcvcr, for morcand moreappli- within and between But this simple idea is creating much
cations, a linear organization is not excitement. Several universities have
adequate. For example, the documenta- documents-that open created laboratories for research on hyper-
tion of a computer program* is usually text, many articles have been written about
either squcczcd into the margins of the exciting new the concept just within the last year, and
program, in which case it is generally too possibilities for u!Gng the Smithsonian Institute has created a
terse to be useful, or it is interleaved with demonstration laboratory to develop and
the text of the program, a practice which the computer as a display hypertext technologies. What is all
breaks up the flow of both program and the fuss about? Why are some people will-
documentation.
communication and
ing to make extravagant claims for hyper-
As workstations grow cheaper, more thinking tool. text, calling it “idea processing” and “the
powerful, and more available, new possi- basis for global scientific literature”?
bilities emerge for extending the tradi- In this article I will attempt to gc~ at the
tional notion of “flat” text files by essence of hypertext. I will discuss its
allowing more complex organizations of advantages and disadvantages. I will show
the material. Mechanisms are being that this-new technology opens some very
-
devised which allow direct machine- exciting possibilii;es, particularly for new
supported references from one textual pioneers of hypertext, once defined it as ‘?i’ uses of the computer as a communication
chunk to another; new interfaces provide T corn -.*‘b’maI$onofnaturallanguageiejit’iiriih
‘-’ fand thinking tool. However, the reader
the user with the ability to interact directly ‘_Ihe c&puter*s capacity for interacti&* _ who has not used hypertext should espcct
with these chunks and IO establish new s branching, or dynamic display. . . of a that at best he will gain a pcrccption of
relationships bctwcen them. Theseexten- iL non~neartext_ . ~whichcannot~p,+.,t~ hypertext as a collection of intcrcsting fca-
sions of the’traditional text fall under ihe ” conveniently on a conventional page.“’ cures. Just as a description of electronic
general category of hyperkxf (also known This article is a survey of existing hyper- spreadsheets will not get across the real elc-
as noniineurfext). Ted Nelson, one of the text systems, their applications, and their gancc of that tool, this article can only hint
design. It is both an introduction to the at the potentials of hypertext. In fact, one
'D~cumm~a~ion is Ihe uncrccutablc English text must work in current hypertext environ-
which explains the logic of the program which it
world of hypertext and, at a deeper cut, a
accompanies. survey of some of the most important ments for a while for the collection of fea-

September 1987 0018-9162/81/o9ooM)11501.00~~961 IEEE


that is common’io many hypertext systems I
is the heavy use of windows that have a :
one-to-one correspondence with nodes in. .,
the database. 1 consider this feature to be
of secondary importance.
A I One way to delimit hypertext is to point
out what it is not. Briefly, several systems

4
B have some of the attributes Sf hypertext
CL3 but do not qualify. Window systems fall
, into this category; while window systems
do have some of the interface functional- ’

I
could claim that a file system is a database,
II ,I8 :
I I
I
Display screen
I i
8I
I
and that one movef amongnodes(files) by
,1 :
I I :
--A
8 ,I
t1 -L-_I_------
r II I
It I 1
:
I :i I ,
I
@~m~t;,3imilarly, most outline proces-
I sor’s (such as ThinkTank) do not qualify.
I They provide little or no support for refer-
I ences between outline entries, although
their integrated hierarchical database and
I interface do approximate hypertext better
I than the other systems that I have men-
I tioned. Text formatting systems (such as
I I Troff and Scribe) do not qua!ify. They

!-
I
I
I- ----_--------- -I
I
allow a tree of text fragments in separate
files to be gathered into one large docu-
ment; however, this structure is hierarchi-
Hyperlext database cal and provides no interface for on-line
navigation within the (essentially linear)
document. Similarly, database manage-
Figure 1. The correspondence bctwccn windows and links in the display, and nodes ment systems (DBMSs) have links of var-
and links in the dafabasc. In this example, each node in the hypertext database is ious kinds (for example, relational and
displayed in a separate window on the screen when requested. The link named “b” object-oriented links), but lack the single
in window A has been activated by a pointing device, causing a new window named coherent interface to the database which
“B” IO be created on the screen and filled wifh the text from node B in the data- is the hallmark o[ hypertext. _
base. (Gcncrall~. links can have names that arc different from the name of the fqS’~ideodisCie~~orb~~m~~g~.~ .., _I
node they point to.) ,‘fhere is,&&in~~~~~~est in theext+& 6&3&i
I. $+Xztext to the~n$+~en&l &cept or. .
ype&&in which_ th;&‘n;$ii wh’ich’~ ‘i“y’iI
P
are i n&&k$ _. tog&h&, can be- &t, F r
&-
-+raphiF, digitized speech, audio record- a ‘T; !’
ISI@, picty~e;s, animatir+ film clips, and ,.. .JE,
‘Sistimably --.-a and tactilcsentz. F i
tast&‘pdors
,_ _.“..--t
tures to coalesce into a useful tool. At thu pomt, httle has been done i
the design and engineering t
One problem with identifying the i
tial aspects of hypertext is that the term these additional modalities,
“hypertext” !-I% been used quite loosely in ing capability which allows a nonlinear although many of the high-level design ;
the pas[20 years for many diffcrcnt collcc- organimtion of 1~x1. An additional feature issues arc likely IO be shared with hypcr-
[ions of featurei. Such tools as window 1~x1. Thercforc, this survey will primarily
systems, elccrronic mail, and telecon- *While this arliclc seeks to establish the criterion cl address the more conservative text-based i
ferenckg share iearures with hypertext. mxhinc-supvrlcd links as the prims? crilcrion of systems.
hypertext. this is by no means an xccp~rd definition.
This anicle focuses on machine-supported Thcrcforc I will also rcvicw 3nd discuss 3cvnc syrwnr
links (both within and between docu- wblch have a weaker notion 01 links. A glimpse of using hypcrtcxt. It is USC-

I8 I
COMPUTER
~.‘.
-. ‘._
i ( - ,_’ ._ _ A.
_- _, i

. . “_ ,; . . ._ - ~-. -. :
r .-*.

ful IO have a sense of the central aspects of


using a hypertext system, particularly if
you have never seen one. Below is a list of _
, * Display s c r e e n wilh Wwsrr
the features of a somewhat idealized
hypertext system. Some existing systems
I pXnt have more features than these, and some
/stems
lertext
ns fall
‘stems
ional-
:I” of
single and each has a name or title which
e lack ,is always d&played in the window. How-
le sys- ever, only a small number of nodes are
.t; one yver “open” (as windows) on the screen at
Ibase, the same time.
‘cs) by l Standard window system operations

their are supported: Windows can be reposi-


rtext, tioned, resized, closed, and put aside as.
icated small window icons. The position and size
more of a window or icon (and perhaps also its
Yerely color and shape) arecues to remembering
:ditor the contents of the window. Closing a win-
-oces- dow causes the window to disappear after
alify. any changes that have been made aresaved
refer- to the database node. Clicking with the
ough mouse on the icon of a closed window
e and causes the window to open instantly,. ,_ ,. _.
)e \ i .* Windows can contain any number of:
n Jink.ico,p+ thich repiesent-pointers to
C. other nodes in the database. The link icon
They contains a short textual field which sug-
Irate gcsts the contents of the node it points to.
locu- Clicking on a !ink icon with the mouse
rchi- causes the system to find the referenced L -----__--____- 1
.-line node and to immediately open a new win- Hypertext database
Icar) dow for it on the screen. ._ ._ : _
iage- , l The user can easily create new nodes i
var- and new links to new nodes (for anhota- Figure 2. The screen at the top illustrates how a hypertext browser provides a direct
and lion, comment; elaboration, etc.) or to two-dimensional graphic view of the underlying database. In this illustration, the
;nglc existing nodes (for establishing new con- node “A” has been selected for full display of its contents. Notice that in the
hich nections). _,_.. browser view you can tell not only which nodes are linked IO A but also how the
I l Thedatabasecaribebrdwsedin tliiii--“subnetwork fits into the larger hyperdocument. (Of course, hyperdocuments of an>
age, ways: (1) by following links and opening ‘size cannot be shown all al once in a browser-only portions can be displayed.)
an of windows successively to examine their Con-_:? ‘_. -’
rt of i
tents, (2) bysearchingthe network (or pat-t -“. ’
hich of it) for some string,*+ keyword, or _+’
ext, attribute value, and (3) ‘by navigating i-
3rd- around -theT%yperdocument using a- 5-
-
and browserthat displays the network graphi-
Pen- zcally. _The user can select whether the _<:rr”rcci”C”‘.Y---F
one nodes and links display their labels or npf. $f hypertext syster+ As the hyperdocu- Using a browser can be likened to using
-ing The browser is an importantcomponent ment grows more complex, it becomes dis- visual and tactile cues when looking for a
its, tressingly easy for a user to become lost or cerfain page in a book. Sometimes wc
.ign ‘NOIC 11131 I am arc dcscribrng two uses oficons: those disoricntcd. A browser displays some or ail rcmembcr the pcneral way rhc page looked
1cr- lhal function as placcholdcrs for windows that have of the hyperdocument as a graph, provid- and about how far it was through the
been temporarily pur aside, and those within umdows
ti thal rcprcseni hnks IO other nodes. ing an important measure of contextual book. although we don’t recall the page
sec._ and spatial cues to supplement the user’s number or even which keyword terms
model of which nodes he is viewing and would help us find it by using the index or
‘*A wring 1s a scrics of alphabclic and numenc iharac-
lcrs of any length, for example “liricning” or how they are related to each other and their table oicontenfs. The browser display can
se- “CiOO274.” neighbors in the graph. (See Figure 2.) be similarly scanned and scrolled when the

ER September 1987 IS
user has forgotten all but the appearance (tic user interface a&s). while others
or location of a node. have focused on the database issues of the
buck end (the database server). Table I
identifies various features of the different
Hypertext hypcrtextual representation. hypertext systems which have been imple-
implementations But if one insists, as most modern mented.
proponents of hypertext do, that naviga-
The history of hypertext is rich and var- tion through hypertextual space must be Macro literary systems. The earliest
ied because hypertext is not so much a new computer-supported in order to qualify as visions of hypertext focus on the inttgra-
idea as an evolving conception of the pos- true hypertext, then the field is narrowed tion of colossal volumes of information to
i sibleapplications of the computer. Many considerably, and the history likewise make them readilyaccessible via a simple
people have contributed to the idea, and shortened. and consistent interface. The whole net-
each of them seems to have had something In some ways, the people who first work publishing system constitutes a
different in mind. In this section, I will described hypertext-Bush, Engelbart, dynamic corpus to be enriched by readers
review these theorists and their ideas in an Nelson-all had the same vision for hyper- without defacing the original documents;
effort to present a historical perspective as text as a path to ultimate human-computer thus, the difference between authors and
well as to sketch some of the hypertext interaction, a vision which is still alive readers is diminished. The advent of the
applications that have been devised to today among hypertext researchers. Thus computer has brought this vision closer IO
date. I do not describe the individual sys- the historical review below stresses the reality, but it has also revealed the
terns and ideas reviewed here in any detail. early development of ideas about hyper- monumental problems inherent in this
For more detailed information, the reader text as much as the more contemporary application area.
is invited to consult the literature directly.
, F”21_ m7 ,--: .‘.,.. .,_ _ _ . ‘~~“u; cpTp’ -7s !?@ementation e ffy *
Because of the difficulty of precisely Bush 3 Memex. Vannevar Bush, Presi-
ne kmd of manual hypertext s the tra- .i
dent Roosevelt’s Science Advisor, is
#&tional use of 3 x 5 index cards for note classifying hypertext systems according to
credited with first describing hypertext in
i taking. Note cards are often referenced’to *their features, my description will list sys-
his 1945 article “As We May Think,“’ in
-each other, as well as arranged hierarchi- tems according to application. There are
which he calls for a major postwar effort
cally (for example, in a shoebox or in four broad application areas for which
hypertext to mechanize tht scientific literature sys-
rubber-banded bundles). A particular . svstems
-. .._ have been developed:
-..“.T. ..-.“.

tem. In the article, he introduces a machine


advantage of note cards is that their small mucro lilerarysyslems: the study of
for browsing and making notes in an
size modularizes the notes into small rechn’oiogies G’s&& l&e on-line
extensive on-line text and graphics system.
chunks. The user can easily reorganize a libraries in which interdocument links
, This memexcontained a very large library
set of cards when new information sug- are machine-supported (that is, all
as well as personal notes, photographs,
gests a restructuring of the notes. Of publishing, reading, collaboration,
.- and sketches. It had several screens and a
course, a problem \vith note cards is that and criticism takes place within the
facility for establishing a labelled link
rheuser can have difficulty finding a spe- network);
between any IWO points in the entire
cific card if he has many of them. problem ezploraffon Tookloo to
library. Although the article is remarkably
Another kind of manual hypertext is the support early unstructured thin$ing
foresightful, Bush did not anticipate the
reference book, exemplified by the dic- on a problem when many discon-
power of the digital computer; thus his
tionary and the encyclopedia. In the sense nectcd ideas come to mind (for exam-
memex uses microfilm and photocells to
that each of these can be viewed as a graph ple, during early authoring and
do its magic. But Bush did anticipate the
of textual nodes joined by referential links, outlining, problem solving, and pro-
information explosion and was motivated
they are very old forms of hypertext. As gramming and design);
in developing his ideas by the need to sup-
one reads an article or definition, explicit :-%.browsingJy~fems:sy;frems
‘2 . ._.: similar to
port more natural forms of indexing and
references to related items indicate where macrolite’ra’rjsystem?, but smaller in
retrieval:
to get more information about those items. scale (for teaching, reference, and
The majority of people’s transactions with public information, where ease of use The human mind . . . operates by associa-
tion. Man cannot hope fully IO duplicate this
a dictionary make use of the linear (alpha- is crucial); ~_. _.?-i).~..-r--. -I_ - mental process arMicially, but he certainly
betic) ordering of its elements (detkirions) ..* genirul hyp&G&hnologv. genera! Pugh1 IO be able IO learn from it. One cannot
for accessing a desired element. An ency- “- ‘purpose.systenis designed to‘allow hope IO equal the speed and flexibility with
clopedia, on the other hand, can best be experimentation with a range of which the mind follows an associative trail.
but it should be possible to-beat ~hGaind
used rg explorGhe local nodes in the “net- hypertext applications (for reading, decisively in regard to the pcrmancnc< and
work,” once one has found the desired writing, collaboration, etc.) clarity of the items resurreclcd from
entry through the alphabetic index. storage.’
These categories are somewhat infor-
There are also many documents i n mal. Often thesingle application IO which Bush described the essential feature of
which references io other parts of the a system has been applied to date derer- :he mcmcx as the ability to tic IWO ircms
documcnr. or IO other documents, consti- mints which category it is dcscribcd in. togcrhcr. The mechanism is complex, bur
(MC a major portion oithc work. Both the Bear in mind that some of the systems clever. The user has IWO documents that he
Talmud, with its heat,! use of annotations mentioned below are full-scale environ- wishes to join into a trail he is building,
and nested commentary, and Aristotle’s ments, while others are still only concep- each document in its own vicwcr; hc raps
writings, with their reliance on references tual sketches. Some systems have focused in rhc name of the link, and that name
to other sources, are ancient prototypesof more on the development of thejronr end appears in a code space at the bottom of

20 COizlPUTER

-_ - “.. ._--_.______
,
: ,
Toblc 1. Hypertext syslcms rnd lhcir feature.
r
Hierarchy Graph- Link Attri- Paths Vcr- Proced- Keyword Text Con- Pictures Graphica
based Types butes sions ural or Editor current or Browser
Hypertext Attach- String Multi- Graphics
Systems ment Search users
Boxer Yes Yes Fixed' No’ N o N o Yes Yes Emacs No Yes Yes
earliest .
ntegra- CREF Yes Yes Yes No No By link No Yes Zmacs No Yes No
1tion to
simple Emacs INFO Yes No No No No No No Yes Emacs Np No No
Jle net- IBIS Yes Yes A basic Yes
Yes No No Byiink No No No’. No
:utes a
text
readers cdilor
.ments;
3rs and Intermedia YeS Yes Yes Yes No’ No No’ Yes Custom Yes Yes Yei
: of the
;oser to KMS Multiple Yes Fixed No No’ Yes Yes Yes Text/ Yes Yes No
:d the graph.
in this WYSIWYG
Neptune Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Smalltalk- Y e s Yes Yei
80 editor
, Presi-
SOr, is NLS/Augment Y e s Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Custom Yes Yes No
rtext in
NoteCards Multiple Yes Yes Nodes No No Yes Yes Interlisp Yes Yes YCi
k,“‘in
. effort 3utline Processors Yes No No No No No No Yes Various No No NO
Ire sys-
machine PlaneText Unix Yes No No No h‘o No Unix/ SunView Yes Yes Yei
in an file sys. grep text ed.
ys’ -
jymbolics Yes Yes No No Yes No No Yes None No No NO
1.
3ocument
rapns, Examiner
3 and a
d link XNVIEW Yes No No No No h’o No No linccd.1 No No NO
entire Unix
rkably
lte the rexmet Multiple Yes Yes Yes Yes h’o No Keyword Any No No NO
!us his iyperties No Yes No No No No No No’ A basic No Yes No
:ells 10 text edilor
ire rhe
ivaled WE Yes Yes No Fixed No* No: No’ No Smalltalk- No’ Yes Yei
0 sup- 80 editor
ig and
Yanadu No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Any No Yes No
rsocia- ZOG Yes No No No No No Yes Full text Spec. Pur. Yes No NO
UC this
rtsinly ’ Can be user programmed.
cannot ’ Planned for next version.
y with
e trail,
-In this table, each column rcprcs?nts one possible feature or ability that a hypertext systun can provide. The negative or affirmalive enws in rhe
mind -
-3able indicate whether the corresponding hypertext system meets the standardcrireria for a specified fealurc. These criteria are lisred bclo\v.
x and
from
Hierarchy: Is there specific support for hierarchical smcturcs?
Graph-based: Does the sys[cm support nonhierarchical (cross-reference) links?
Link types: Can links have types?
Al[ributes: Can user-designated attribute/value pairs be associated \\ith nodes or links?
Palhs: Can many links be srrung togcthcr inlo a single persistent objca?
Versions: Can nodes or links have more than a single version?
Procedural attachment: Can arbitrary csccurablc procedures bc atrachcd IO events (such as mousing) a~ nodes or links?
.%ring search: Can the hypcrdocumcnr be searched for strings (including keywords)?
TCXI cdilor: What cdilor is used IO create and modify the comems of nodes?
Concurrent mul[iusers: Can scvcral users edit the hypcrdocument at Ihc same lime?
Plclurcs or graphics: Is some form of piclorial or graphical informalion supporrcd in addition IO ICXL?
Graphics browser: Is there a browser which graphically presents [he nodes and links in rhe hypcrdocumenr?

i-ER September 1987


t
ideas about augmentation had become
more specific, and had been implemented
as NLS (ON Line System) by the Augmen-
ted Human Intellect Research Center at
SRI. NLS was designed as an experimen-
tal tool on which the research group devel-
oped a system that would be adequate to
all of their work needs, by
placing in computer store all of our speci!i-
cations, plans, designs, programs, documen-
tation. reports, memos, bibliography and
rcrerence notes, etc., and doing all of our
scratch work, planning, designing, debug-
ging, erc., and a good deal of our intercom-
munication, via the consoles.‘
These consoles were very sophisticated
by the standards of the day and included
television images and a variety of input
devices, including one of Engelbart’s best
known inventions, the mouse:
Files in NLS were structured into a hier-
archy of segments** called slafements,
each of which bore an identifier of its level
within the file. For example, a document
might havestatements”l,““la,” “.lal.”
“la&” “ 1 b,” etc., though these identi-
fiers did not need to be displayed. Any
number of reference links couldbe estab-
lished between statements within files and
between files. Note that this is a structure
which is primarily hierarchical, but which
,- allows nonhierarchical links as well. The
Figure 3. Engelbart 31 fhe NLS/Augmenf workstation. Note the chord key se1
importance of supporting both kinds of
under Engelbart’s left hand. The chord key set is optional for Augment. If is a
structures is a point to which I will return
- remarkable accelerator for character-driven commands and mouse-select screen
later. The system provided several ways to
operands. traverse the statements in files.
NLS, like other early hypertext systems,
emphasized three aspects: a database of
nonlinear text, viewfilrers which selected
information from this database, and viebcts
each viewer; out of view, the code space is In this stage. the symbols with which the
which structured the display of this infor-
also filled with a phoroccll-rcadablc dot human tcprcscnts the conccps he is manip-
mation for the terminal. The availability
ulating can be arranged before his eyes,
code that names the other document and
moved. stored, recalled, operated upon of workstations with high resolution dis-
the current position in that document. according IO extremely complex rules-all in plays has shifted the emphasis to more
Thereafter, when one of these items is in very rapid response IO a minimum amoum of
graphical depictions of nodes, links, and
view, the other can be instantly recalled inlormation supplied by the human, by
means of special cooperative technological networks, such as using one window for
merely by tapping a button below the cor- each node.
devices. In the limit of whal we might now
responding code space. Bush admitted that imagine, this could be a computer. with NLS provided viewing filters for the file
many technological breakthroughs would which individuals could communicate rapidly structure: One could clip the level (depth)
be needed to make his memex practical, and easily, coupled to a three-dimensional
color display with which extremely sophisti- of hierarchy displayed, truncate the num-
but he felt that it was a technological ber of items displayed at any level, and
caled images could be constructed . . .)
achievement worthy of major expenditure. write customizedfilters (in a “high-level
H i s p r o p o s e d sysrem, -AM/T content analysis language”) that displayed
Engflban’s M!.S/Augmenr. Just less (Human using Language, Artifacts, and only statements having the specified con-
than two decades later Douglas Engelbart, Methodology, in which he is Trained), tent. NLS also introduced the concept of
at Stanford Research Institute, was included the human user as an essential ele-
influenced by Bush’s ideas. In 1963. Engel- ment: The user and the computer were
bart wrote “A Conceprual Framework for dynamically changing components in a
the Augmcntarion of Man’s Intcllcct.“’ symbiosis which had the effect of
Engelbart envisioned that computers “amplifying” the native intelligence of the
would usher in a new stage of human evo- user. This is still a common vision among
- luiron, c h a r a c t e r i z e d b y “aulomatcd dcvclopcrs of hypcrrcst systems.
csrcrnal symbol manipulation”: Five years later, in 196s. Engclbart’s “Scamcn~r wxc llmaicd IO 3CCOcharac~rrs m Icngh.

22 COMPUTER

_. -.-_- - --
xcome multiperson distributed conferenc-
mcntcd jng/editing.
Llf” !q_ NLS has evolved over the years. It is
at now called Augment (or NLS/Augment)
eb..dzn- and is marketed as a commercial network
p devel- system by McDonnell Douglas. In
luate to developing NJ_& the emphasis has been on
.
creating a consistent environment for
spccifi- *‘knowledge workers” (that is, office
xumen- automation for software engineers). The
ohy and system now includes many forms of
II of our
, debug- computer-supported communication,
itercom- both asynchronous (email with links to all
documents, journaling of ideas and
sticated exchanges, bulletin boards, etc.) and syn-
ncluded chronous (several terminals sharing the
If input same display, teleconferencing, etc.). It
rt’s best includes facilities for document produc-
tion and control, organizational and pro-
o a hier- ject information management, and
etnenls, software engineering. (See Figures 3 and ,?Cl STRUCTURE CUTOFF.’ Shou only /
fits level 4.)
7C2 LLUEL‘CLIPPING. For t h e ~
xument 7C3 STRTMENT TRUNCfiTlON. f o r
’ “la1 ,” ._ 7C4 INTER-STATMEM SEPRRNTION.,
Nelson’s Xanadu Projecf. During :
76 (Note: 'The foregoing vieu
e identi- Engelbart’s development of Augment, ~ “7~6 STRTMEM iii~~fgs AND NMES:
ed. Any another hypertext visionary, Ted Nelson, .. -?C7 FROZEN STRTMENTS. b uorker'
3e estab- was developing his own ideas about aug- ,'.?CS USEI+PEClFlED COKTENT ’ ‘:,
files and mentation, but with an emphasis on creat- . , E
tructure ing a unified literary environment on a
u,:’ :h global scale. Nelson coined the term
ne “hypertext.” His thinking and writing are
kirrrrs of the most extravagant of any of the early Figure 4. Augment display showing five windows. Window 1 (W-l) has a passage
ill return workers. He named his hypertext system as if embedded in a message, showing a link to Branch 7c of Document 2250 in the
I ways to Xanadu, after the “magic place of literary OAD Journal. A ViewSpcc (“rbtzgm”) provides Ihc following spccific:,iions: tar-
memory” in Samuel Ta; lor Coleridge’s get level plus one, 1runcaIe to one line per statement, no blank lines beIcccn stale-
systems, poem “Kubla Khan.” InXanadu, storage men& show only Ihat branch (e.g., noI Branch 7d), and Iurn on Location
abase of space is saved by the heavy use of links. Numbers. Window 2 (W-2) shows the view obtained with a jump link command.
selected Only the original document and the To perform a jump link command, Ihe opcralor clicks on Ihc link in W-1, lbcn
.nd views changes made to it are saved. The system moves the cursor into W-2 for Ihc final click. Thr very fop-lcf~ syslcm rncssagc
lis infor- easily reconstructs previous versions of announces that the desired Journal Item has been accessed, and Ihc clusIcr al Ihe
lilability documents. Nelson describes his objec- top left of the screen verifies that the view is clipped to three levels and the state-
ition dis- tives as follows: ments truncated to one line each. Window 3 (W-3) shows an indirecl link fhat
to more Under guiding ideas which are not technical specifies Ihe linkage palh. In effect, this link says “go to the statemen! in the file
nks, and but Iilcrary, weareimplemenringa system for named ‘Refd,’ follow the link found there to iIs target file, and in Ihat file find
tdow for storageand retrieval of linked and window- Location Number 6.” Kale IhaI Ihe same ViewSpec is specified here as for Ihc link
ing text. The document, our fundamental in W-l. Window 4 (W-4) identifies Refd and provides its general reference source
unit, can have windows to any other docu-
)r the file ments. The evolving corpus is continually as the reference section at the end of !he document; a user can jump from Ihe link
I (depth) expandable wifhoul fundamental change. citation in W-3 I O see Ihis statement by using the jump name command. To pcr-
the num- h’cw links and windows can continually add form this command, he clicks on “Ref-6” in W-3 then clicks on W-4. Window 5
-:vel, and new access pathways M old mPerial. Fast (W-S) shows a view in the OAD-Journal Item 2250. The user can obtain this view
proprierary algorithm? render the extreme
igh-level by performing a jump link command on the indirect link of W-3. To perform this
dala fragmentalion tolerable in the planned
displayed back-end service facility.’ command, the user clicks on lhe indirect link of W-3 and then clicks in W-S.
fied con-
mcept of The long range goal of the Xanadu pro-
ject has been facilitating the revolutionary
process of placing the cntirc world’s liter- tainablc, and that a system for the clcc- The back end of the Xanadu system has
ary corpus on line. In fact, Xanadu’s Ironic accounting and distribution of been implemented in Unix and is available
design makes a strong separation between royalties is in place. Nelson predicts that in several forms, including as an on-lint
Ihc user imcrfncc nnd the dntnbnsc scrvcr. the advent of on-line libraries will crcatc scrvicc (much like Engclbnrt’s Augnicn~).
with most of the emphasis placed on the a whole new market for the organization A crude front end for the Xanadu system
latter. In particular, great care has been and indexing of this immense information is also available which runs on Sun work-
taken that copyright protection is main- store. stations.
:PUTER September l9S7 i
.
. Trigg’s Textnef. Randall Trigg wrot; ticipant is able lo understand the whole
the first and to date the only PhD thesis on problem better. 776s process enables a
hypertext. In his thesis, he describes his common understanding of the major
Textnet system as supporting nonlinear issues and their implications to emerge.
~exl-text in which documents a r e order as if he were reading a linear IBIS is designed to support this
organized’as “primitive pieces of text con- document. design/planning conversation.
nected with typed links to form a network Trigg joined Xerox PARC after com- IBIS systems are thus a marriage of (1)
similar in many ways to a semantic net.” pleting his thesis and was one of the prin- teleconferencing systems which enable
The thesis focuses on specific link types cipal architects of the Xerox NoteCards many people to participate in one conver-
that support literary criticism. system. sation, and (2) hypertext, which allows
In the tradition of the field, frigg’s sys- participants to move easily between differ-
tem is just a first step in the direction of his Problem exploration systems. These are ent issues and the different threads of
vision: highly interactive systems which provide argument on the same issue. The current
In our view, the logical and inevitable result rapid response to a small collection of version of Rittel’s IBIS runs on an Apple
[of the comp\.ctr revolution] will be the tram- specialized commands for the manipula- PC and is being ported to Sun worksta-
fer of all such (text handling] activities to the tion of information. They can be thought tions.* IBIS has three types of nodes
computer, transforming communication
of as the early prototypes of electronic (issues, posifions, and arguments), and
within the scientific community. All paper
writing, critiquing, and refereeing will be pcr- spreadsheets for text and symbolic uses nine types of relations to link these
formed on line. Rather than having to track processing. One important feature of most nodes. In a typical application, someone
down litllc-known proceedings, journals or of these tools is a facility for suppressing posts an issue; then that person or others
unpublished technical reports from distant detail at various levels specified by the post positions about that issue; and then
universities, users will find them stored in one
large distributed computerized national
user. For example, the outline processors the positions are argued using argument
paper network. New papers will be written all have single keystroke commands for nodes. Of course, any of the three types of
using the network, often collaborated on by turning on and off the display of subsec- nodes can be the seed of a new issue. (See
multiple aurhors. and submitred IO on-line tions of a section. This is an unusual but Figure 5.) The current set of relationships
electronic journals.‘
natural facility. Hypertext and similar between nodes is: responds-to, quesrions.
Textnet implements two basic types of tools excel at the collection of large supports, objects-to, specializes, general-
nodes: those which have textual content amounts of relatively unstructured infor- izes, refers-to, and replaces. Theresearch
(chunks) and those which hierarchically mation. But such cohections are of little on IBIS concentrates 0~1 ways to summa-
organize other nodes (foes, for “table of use unless adequate mechanisms exist for rize and present the issue network, both
contents”). Thus Textnet supports both filtering, organizing, and browsing. These for participants and decision makers.
hierarchical trees (via the tot nodes) and are the primary desiderata of these author-
nonhierarchical graphs (via the typed ing/thinking/programming systems. Lowe’s SYNVIEW. David Lowe’s
links). SYNVIEW system is similar in concept to
Trigg further proposes a specific tax- Issue-Based Informorion Systems. Rittel’s IBIS but goes in a different direc-
onomy of link types for use by collabora- Horst Rittel and his students have intro- tion. It proposes that the participants, in
tors and critics in Textnet. He argues that duced the notion of issue-Based Informa- addition to posting their own issues and
there is generally a specific set of types of tion Systems (IBIS)’ to handle systems arguments, assess previous postings as to
comments, and that there is a link type for analysis in the face of “wicked problems.” their validity and relevance. The asscss-
each comment. For example, there are Rittel describes wicked problems (as ment is done by a kind of quantitative vot-
re_futalion and supper/ links, and, more opposed IO “tame” ones) as problems ing. For example, if you think that Joe’s
specifically, thcrc arc links to say that a which cannot be solved by the traditional rcsponsc to Sam makes a good point but
point is irrelevant (“Pt-irrelevant”), that systems analysis approach (that is, (1) is not really a direct response to Sam’s
d a t a c i t e d i s i n a d e q u a t e (“D- define the problem, (2) collect data, (3) posting, you might grade it “5, 1” (where
inadequate”), or that the styleis rambling analyze the data, (4) construct a solution). 5 is a high validity rating and 1 is a low rel-
(“S-rambling”). Trigg describes over 80 Wicked problems lack a definitive formu- evance rating). These values are averaged
such link types and argues that the disad- lation; their problem space cannot be into the existing values for that posting.
vantage of having a limited set of link types mapped out without understanding the The various displays of the argument
is outweighed by the possibility of special- solution elements; in short, the only way structure show the values for each posting,
ized processing on the hyperdocument to really understand a wicked problem is allowing readers to focus, if they choose
afforded by a definite and fixed set of to solve it. Wicked problems have no stop- to, on those argument trails having the
primitives. ping rule. The design or planning activity highest voted validity.
In addition, Textnet sworts the defi- stops for considerations that are external Thro@h debate>on the accuracy of informa-
nition of pafhs-ordered lists of nodes- to the problem (for example, lack of time, tion and on aspccls of rhc structures thcm-
used to browse linear concatenations of money, or patience). Solutions to wicked selves, a large number of users can
cooperatively rank al1 available irems of
text and to dump such scans to hard copy. problems are not “right” or “wrong”;
information in lcrms of significance and rcl-
The path facility relieves the hypertext they just have degrees of sufficiency. Rit- cvancc IO cxh topic. Individual users can
rcadcr from having to make an n-~aydcci- tcl argues that solving wicked problems lhcn choose the depth IO which ~hcy wish IO
sion at each link; rarhcr, the rcadcr is requires all those involved IO exchange and csaminc [hcsc s~ruc~urcs for IIIC purposes 31
provided a default pathway through the argue their many viewpoints, ideas,
‘A graphical Sun version. allcd glL3lS. is also being
network (or part of the network), and can values, and concerns. By coming IO under- dewloped ;I, the hlCC/Softwnrc Tcchnolog)
simply read the material in the suggested stand other viewpoints bcrter. each par- I’rogrLJm.

24 COMPUTER
whole hand. The function of this debate is not IO
b 2.3 arrive LI specific conclusions, but rather IO
2 collect and order the bcsl available evidence
J- on each topic.‘
n,
txs UNC’s WE. A group at the Unjversity
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been
of(l) developing a wrifing environmen! called
:nable WE.9 Their research is based on a cogni-
jnver- tive model of the communication process
3llows which explains reading as the process of
Jiffer- taking the linear stream of text, compre-
ids of hending it by structuring the concepts hier-
.Irrent archically, and absorbing it into long-term
Apple
rksta-
memory as a nefwork. Writing is seen as
the reverse process: A loosely structured I Generalizes
\ Resl bnds-to
nodes network of internal ideas and external
1, and sources is first organized into an appropri-
these ate hierarchy (an outline) which is then Position 2
ncone “encoded” into a linear stream of words,
)t hers sentences, etc.
I then
tmcnt
WE is designed to support the upstream
part of writing. It contains two major view
Ybjects-to
pes of windows, one graphical and one hierarchi-
. (See cal, and many specialized comman_ds for
Iships moving and structuring material (nodes
(ions, and links with attached text) between these
Teral- two views. Normally a writer will begin by
tarch creating nodes in the graph view, where he
nm- can place them anywhere within the win-
k dow. At this stage, little or no structure is
‘5. ._ imposed on the conceptual material. The
writer can place nodes in “piles” if they
zwe’s seem to be related, or he can place individ-
:pt to ual nodes between two piles if they are
ii:ec- somewhat related to both. As some con- Figure 5. A segment of a possible IBIS-style discussion showing the topology of the
ts. in ceptuzl structure begins to emerge from IBIS network. Each node contains information on the type of the node, the time
c and this process, the writer can copy nodes into and date of creation, the author, a short phrase describing the content, a longer
as to the hierarchy window, which has spccial- body of text with the text of !hc comment, a list of keywords, nnd a list of the
&Xs- ized commands for tree operations. The incoming and outgoing links.
zvot- hierarchy window has four different dis-
Joe’s play modes: (1) the tree can be laid out on
I but its side, with the root node on the left; (2) come with further experiments and opening up just those entries that are rele-
am’s the tree can be hung vertically with the root analysis. vant or useful to the idea that he is work-
,here at the top; (3) child nodes can be displayed ing on. In addition, each outline entry can
\ rel- inside their parent node; and, (4) the hier- Outlineprocessors. An outlineproces- have a textual body of any length
ased archy can be shown in the traditional out- sor is a word processing program which is associated with it, and the user can make
ring. line view. specialized for processing outlines, in that this body appear or disappear with a sin-
ncnt WE uses a relational database for the its main commands deal with movement gle keystroke. This feature is a real boon
:,ng, storage of the nodes and links in the net- among, creation of, and modification of to the writing process, becauseit allows the
>ose work. The user points with a mouse to outline entries. In this respect, thesepro- %ser IO have a view of boththe immediate
the select a node. A third window is an editor grams commercialize many ideas from text that he is composing and the global
for the material within the currently Engelbart’s NLS/Augment. Outline context for it. It also facilitates rapid
selected node. A fourth window on the processors also have at least simple text movement between sections, particularly
screen is for queries to the database. A editors and do some text formatting, so in large documents, because in outline
fifth window is used to control system that the user can use the same tool to go mode a rcmotc section is ncvcr more than
modes and the current working set of from outline to finished document. One of a few keystrokes a\vay.
nodes. the most powerful features of outline Most outline processors are personal
WE is designed to be an experimental processing is the ability to suppress lower computer programs, and they have done
platform to study what tools and facilities levels of detail in the outline. As with much IO bring some of rhe concepts undcr-
will be useful in a writer’s environment. Engelbart’s NLS/Augment, the user can lying hypertext into popularity. The first
The real validation of these ideas, as with view just the top level of the outline, or the of these was called ThinkTank. II was
so many of the systems described here, will top n levels, or he can “walk the tree,” released in 1984. It has since been joiner’

‘ER Septcmbcr 19S7


. -.
. ,. _..
by a host of others, with names like Max- short commands typed at the keyboard. It
Think, Executive Writer/Executive Filer. is primarily hierarchical, but a user can
Thor, Framework, Kamas, Fact jump to a different place in the hierarchy
Cruncher, Freestyle, Idea!, and PC- by typing in the name of the destination
Outlinc.‘“There are two very recent addi- node. It is used as an on-line help system
tions to the field: Houdini is an extension in Emacs. INFO has the same potential for
of MaxThink that supports rich nonhicr- called Knowledge Management System user disorientation which is shared by all
archical internode references; and For- (KMS). of the systems which display only a single
Comment is a word processor that allows Each segment of the ZOG/KMS data- frame at a time and have no browser.
up to 15 people to apply hypertext-like base is called a frume. A frame has, by
annotations to a document (and can opcr- convention, a one-line title at the top of the Shneiderman 3 Hype&s. The Univer-
ate over a Local Area Network (LAN) in screen, a few lines of text below the title sity of Maryland Hyperties project’ has
real time). staring the issue or topicof the frame, asct been developed in two directions-as a
Aside from Houdini, most outline of numbered (or lettered) menu items of practical and easy-to-learn tool for brows-
processors do not support inter-entry text called selecfions, and a line of stand- ing in instructional databases and as an
references, except by “cloning” the whole ard ZOG commands called globolpadsat experimental platform for studies on the
entry and displaying it in the new location. the bottom of the screen. (Some of these design of hypertext interfaces. As a prac-
Only a few others provide windows for commands are: edif, help. back. nexl, tical tool, it has already seen some use in
nodes. None of them provide explicit mark, refurn, and commenf.) The selec- the field at a Washington, D.C. museum
“mousable” link icons. For these reasons, tions interconnect the frames. When a user exhibit about Austria and the Holocaust.
one could argue whether they qualify as selects an item by typing its number or let- (See Figure 6.) Designers of the exhibit
hypertext as I have defined it here. How- ter at the terminal keyboard, the selected emphasized making the system easy and
ever, ThinkTank was the first program to frame appears on thescreen, replacing the fun for users who have never used a com-
be billed-somewhat pretentiously--as an previous frame. The structure is generally puter before. As an experimental plat-
“idea processor,” and all of these pro- hierarchical, though cross-referencing form, it has been used in tive experimental
grams treat sections of text as first-class links can be included. In addition, an item studies involving over 228 subjects.”
objects and support manipulations that in a frame can be used to activate a In Hyperties the basic units are short
coincide with the way one manages ideas. process. articles (SO-1000 words typically), which
They share these features with hypertext, In 1982 ZOG was installed and used as are interconnected by any number of links.
and in this sense, they anticipate the a computer-based information manage- The links are highlighted words or phrases
inevitable proliferation of hypertext fea- ment system on the nuclear-powered air- in the article text. The user activates the
tures within the mainstream of computer craft carrier USS CARL VINSON. This links by touching them with a finger (on a
applications. system is probably the largest and most touch-sensitivescreen) or using the arrow
thoroughly tested hypertext system in sew- keys to jump to them. **Activating a link
Structured browsing systems. The sys- ice in the field. ZOG has also been used for causes the article about that topic to
tcms rcvicwcd in this section wcrc dcsigncd more interactive process applications such appear in its own window on the screen.
primarily for applications involving large as policy analysis, authoring, communica- The system keeps track of the user’s path
amounts of existing informarion or requir- tions, and code management. Historically, through the network of articles, allowing
ing easy access IO information. These sys- however, ZOG made its name more as a easy return from exploratory side paths.
tems pose different problems for their bulletin board/textual database/CA1 tool In addition to a title and a body of text,
designers. Ease of learning and ease of use than as an interactive system. Hence it is each article has a short (5- IO 25-word)
are paramount, and great care goes into included in this section on browsing. A description which the program can display
crafting the interface. On the other hand, drawback of the ZOC/KMS style of view- very quickly. This feature allows the user
writing (adding new information) is ing a single frame at a time is that users an intermediate position between bringing
usually either not allowed to the casual may become disoriented, since no spatial up the full article and trying to guess from
user or is not particularly well supported. event corresponds to the process of mov- the link name precisely what the article is
ing from frame to frame. In the KMS sys- about.
CMU’s ZOG and Knowledge Sysfems’ tem, this tendency has been offset by Hyperties runs on the IBM PC.
KMS. ZOG is a menu-based display sys- minimizing system response time, so that Recently graphics capabilities have been
tem developed in 1972 at Carnegie-hlellon frame-to-frame transition takes about half added to the system. Current implementa-
University.” It consists of a potentially a second. Thepossibility of user disorien- tion efforts focus on support for videodisc
largedatabase of small (screen-sized) seg- tatio& greatlyreduced by the fact that the images. Also. a browser is being developed
ments which are viewed one at a time. user can move very quickly among frames
ZOG was developed with the particular and thus become reoriented with very lit-
7he “tics’* in “Hypcrtics” stands for “The In~erx-
goal of serving a large simultaneous user tle effort. Creating text and graphics is also live Encyclopedia System.”
community, and thus was designed I O fast in KMS.
operate on standard terminals on a large
timesharing system. In 1981 two of the Emacs INFOSubsysrem. The help system
principals on the ZOG Project, Donald in the widely used text editor, Emacs, is
McCracken and Robert Akscyn, started called INFO. and is much like ZOG. It has
the c o m p a n y Knowlcdgc Sysrcms nnd a sirnplcr set of standard commands, 31x4
devclopcd a commercial successor to ZOG its control input is done by single letters or

26 COMPUTER
xd. It which will provide string search, book-
:r can marks, multiple windows, and user anno-
tation.
7:“:
n Symbolics Docurnenf E&miner. The
L3r most advanced of [he on-line help systems, ;:.G: lZ?e.choslouakia
by aill ihis tool displays the pages from the entire
single twelve-volume manual set on the Sym-
cr. bolics Lisp machine screen.” Certain tex-
tual fields in the document (printed in
niver- bold) are mouse-sensitive. Touching one
.’ has of these fields with the mouse causes the
-as a relevant section of the manual to be added
rows- to the current working set of manual
as an pages. The system allows the reader to
In the place bookmarks on any topic and to move
prac- swiftly between bookmarked topics. The
Jse in protocol for link following is tailored to
scum browsing in a refcrencc manual or cncy-
:aust. clopedia. Mousing a link only causes it 10
thibit be placed on a list of current topics. Then,
y and mousing an entry in this list causes that
com- link to be followed, bringing up the refer-
plat- enced ropic in the main viewing window.
lental The system also supports on-line string
12 - search of preidentified keywords, includ- PIACES: AUSTRlA PAGE 1 OF 3
short ing the search for whole words, leading
Jhich subsrrings, and embedded substrings. The Austria (see map) holds a special place in the history of the Holocaust. /
inks. system is thus well designed for the specific
rases task of browsing through a technical man- Situated between Eastern and Western Europe, possessing a vibrant and
.c ual and pursuing several aspects of a tech- 1
culturally creative Jewish community on the eve of World War II.
nical question or several levels of detail
&.- simultaneously. The user cannot makeany Austria had also provided the young Adolf Hitler, himself an Austrian
link changes or additions to the manual set
c to (although it is possible to save personalized raised near Linz. with impor’ant lessons in the political uses of
'CC.l. collections of bookmarks).
path antisemitism Leading Nazis came from Austria: the names of Adolf
.ving General hgpcrtcxt technology. So far I
HiUer, Adolf Eichmann, wno organized the deporlations of the Jews to
shs. have discussed hypertext sysrems that have
ext, particular practical applicarions. The fol- the death camps, and Ernst Kaltenbrunner. the head of the
ord) lowing systems also have one or more
2lay applications, but their primary purpose is Reich Main Office for Security, 1943-45. readily cOme to mind. As
user experimentation with hypertext itself as a ~~_~_.______~~______~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
zing technology. For example, while
Linz - city in northern Austria; childhood home of Adolf Hitler and other
iOIll NoteCards has been used for authoring,
le is programming, personal information man- lea&n9 Nazis
-rgement, project management, legal
‘C. research, engineering design, and CAI, its NEXT PAGE RETURN TO GYPSIES INDEX
.een developers view it primarily as a research
%a- vehicle for the study of hypertext.
disc .--,. -
oed Xerox PARC’s NoteCards. Perhaps the Figure 6. The Hyperties Browser enables users to traverse a database of articles and
best known version of full hypertextis the piclures by selecting from highlighted items embedded in the text of the arlicles.
J’oreCurds system developed at Xerox The photos show the IBM PC version of Hyperties. The upper node shows a map
Pr\RC.” The original motivation in of Austria. The lower node shows double-spaced text with link terms h i g h l i g h t e d .
b u i l d i n g NotcCards MS IO dcvclop nn Either a touchscrccn or jump-arrow keys arc usrd for selection of hrirf dcfinitiolls,
information analyst’s support tool, one full articles, or pictures. The Hypertics Author permits pcoplc with onl! w o r d
Ihat would help gather information about processing skills to create and maintain databases. Research versions of Hyperlies
a topic and produce analytic reports. The run on the Enhanced Graphics Adapter to give more lines and multiple windows
designers of Notccards observed rhat an and on the Sun 3 \vorkstation to show two full pages of 1~x1 31 a time. Current
information analyst usually follows a development efforts will enable rcadcrs to point at pictures and videodisc images I O
general procedure rhar consists of a series retrieve further information.

September 1987
NoteCards
IIEC?/

,... .,;.. i. _.:..j:.


:; :;:: i.;: i:., j:: :,:j
. . . :.;c>:. .:$‘.::.\.‘..A
: ::. :,,_ :,: .:; ‘.
‘.I. - Lsc’r 1OLIll .,c

.1
‘.
:j

;.
:

‘: !: :
: .:
..,
! ,:
:, ;:
. . .:
: :,
\ ,::
.. ..
L

Figure 7. A typical NotcCards screen with five FileBox cards, two unformatted Test cards, and one Text card formatted as a
[able. Links bet\+een cards are represented by the boxed test inside the cards. The two menus at Ihe top/middle of the screen
control two different note files. The remainder of the icons on the screen belong to non-NoteCard applications running in the
Xerox Lisp environment.

ofsteps: (1) reading sources (news reports, interface, the user can easily customizethe screens allowing windows and link and
scholarly articles, etc.), (2) collecting clip- browser. NoteCards allows easy creation node icons to be displayed in very high
pings and filing them (in actual shoe- of new types of nodes. Forty or fifty such resolution. (See Figure 7.) Currently
boxes!), and (3) writing analytic reports. specialized node types have been created between 50 and 100 users use NoteCards,
The-designee also observed that through- to date, including text, video, animation, many of them outside df Xer&even
outThe process, the analyst forms analyses graphics, and actions. l The new version though it is not a supported product).
and conceptual models in his head. The also allows several users IO work in the Several of these users have constructed
research goal of the PARC team was to same Notefile at the same time. very large databases in the system (for
develop technology to aid the analyst in Part of NoteCards’ success is due to the esample, 1600 nodes with 3500 links
forming better conceptual models and fact that it was dcvclopcd on Xerox D- bctwccn them).
annl\xcs, ntld to find bcrrcr cxprcssions oi scrics Lisp machines, which 3rc powerful
Ihcse models and analysts. workstations that have high resolution Brown L'rriversily ‘s fntermedia. One of
A programmer’s interface makes the oldest and largest hypcrtesr research
JoteCards an open architecture that groups esists at Brown University, at the
allo\rs users to build (in Lisp) new appii- Institute for Rcscarch in Information and
cations on rap of NoteCards. Using this Scholarship, (IRIS).” The lnrermcdia
28 COVPUTER
.I , _ ::.. _

project builds on two decades of work and pk. ic can show whole documents and the
[hrcc p r i o r gcncrations O f hypcrtcxt links between them, or each link and its
systems.“ approximate localion within its docu-
The first system was the Hypertext Edit- ments. (See Figure 8.)
ing System designed by Ted Nelson, Andy The Intermedia project has a long his-
For example, in the English lireraiurecourre
van Dam, and several Brown students for tory, many participants, and a se_rious
the firsr time a student is searching for back-
ihC IBM 2250 display in 1968. This system ground informationon Alexander Pope, he institutional commitment to long-term
was used by the Houston Manned Space- or she may be interested in Pope’s life and the objectives. It conducts creative hypertext
craft Center to produce Apollo documen- political events that prompted his satiric criti- esperiments and uses the classroom as a
tation. cism. To pursue this line of thought the stu- proving ground. Although this project is
dent might retrieve the biography of Pope
The second system was the File Retrieval sIill in its early’stages, we can expect it to
and a timeline summarizing political evenis
and Editing System (FRESS). FRESS was . taking place in England during Pope’s life. contribute significantly to the develop-
a greatly enhanced multiterminal Subsequently, thestudent may want tocom- ment of effective cooperative work envi-
timesharing version designed by van Dam pare Pope’s use of satire with other later ronments based on hypertext.
and his students. It became available in authors’satiric techniques. This time the stu-
dent may look at the same information about
1969 and was commercially reim- Pope but juxtapose it with information about Teh-monkNeptune. Tektronix Neptune
plemented by Phillips in the early 1970’s. other satiricists instead of a time line. The is one hypertext system that has been par-
FRESS was used in production by instructor (and other students. if permitted) ticularly designed as an open, layered
hundreds of faculty and students over could read the student’s paper. examine the architecture.” Neptune strongly separates
more than a decade. Its users included an refcrencc material, and add personal anno-
tation links such as comments, criticism, and the front end, a Smalltalk-based user inter-
English poetry class that did all of its read- suggestions for revision. While revising the face, from the back end, a transaction-
ing and writing on a communal hypertext document, the student could see all of the based server called the Hypertext Abstract
document. Like NLS, FRESS featured instructor’s comments and examine the .\lachine (HAM). The HAM is a generic
both dynamic hierarchy and bidirectional sources containing the counter-arguments. hypertext model which provides opera-
reference links, and keyworded links and Like most of the serious workers on tions for creating, modifying, and access-
nodes. Unlike NLS, it imposed no limits hypertext, the Intermedia team is espe- ing nodes and links. It maintains a
on the sizes of nodes. On graphics termi- cially concerned with providing the user complete version histor!* of each node in
nals, multiple windows and vector with ways of managing the increased com- the hyperdocument, and provides rapid
graphics were supported. plexity of the hypertext environment. For access to any version of a hyperdocument.
The third project, the Electronic Docu- example, they contend that multiple links It provides distributed access over a com-
ment system, was a hypermedia system emanating from the same point in a docu- puter network, synchronization for mul-
emphasizing color raster graphics and ment may confuse the reader. Their alter- tiuser access, a complex network
navigation aids. native is to have a single link icon in the versioning scheme, and transaction-based
As part of Brown’s overall effort to material (text or graphics) which can be crash recovery_.
bring graphics-based workstations into quickly queried via the mouse to show the The inte-face layer provides several
effective* use within the classroom, the specific outgoing links, their names, and browsers: A graph browser provides a pic-
Intermedia system is being developed as a their destination nodes.” They also pro- torial view ;lf a subgraph of nodes and
framewtjrk for a collection of tools that pose a construct called a )veb IO implement links; a docanlenl brotc,ser supports the
- allow authors 10 crcatc links to documents context-dependent link display. Every link browsing of hierarchical structures of
a of various media such as text, timelines, belongs to one or more webs and is only nodes and links; and a node browser
1 diagrams and other computer-generated visible when one of those webs is active. To accesses an individual node in a hyper-
le images, video documentaries, and music. view documents with the links that belong document. Other browsers include oftrib-
Two courses, one on cell biology and one to a particular web, a user opens a web and ure browsers, version browsers, node
on English literature, have been taught then opens one or more of its documents. dij/erences browsers, and d e m o n
using the system. Current applications Although other webs may also reference browsers. (See Figure 9.)
include InterText, a text processor; the document, only the links which were In Neptune, each end of a link has an
Jnd InterDraw, a graphics editor; Interval, a made in the current web are displayed. As oiiset within its node, whether that node
igh timeline editor that allows users interac- a result, the user does not have to sift is textual or graphical. The link attach-
l

:tly tively to organize information in time and through the connections made in many ment may refer to a particular version of
ds, date sequences; Int_erSpec, a viewer for different contexts. a node, or it may refer to.the current ver-
-/en sections of 3D objects; and InterPix, a The IntermediGproject?s also studying sion. The HAM provides IWO mechanisms
:I). scanned-image viewer. Under develop- ways of providing an effective bro\vser for that are useful for building application
:ed ment are a video editor, a 2D animation a network that can include hundreds or layers: Nodes and links may have an
*‘or editor, and more complex methods for even thousands of nodes. The Intermedia un!imited number ofattribute/value pairs;
AS filtering the corpus and creating and browser has two kinds of displays: a global ar,d special high-speed predicates are
traversing trails. ~nup, which shows the entire hypcrdocu- included for querying the values of these
Intermedia is being developed both as a ment and allows navigation within it; and prjrs in theentire hyperdocument, allo\\-
of tool for professors to organize and present a local map, which presents a view cen-
_.’ their lesson material via computer and as tered on a single document and displaying
he ‘- an interactive medium for students to its links and nearest neighbors in the web.
Id study the matcrials and add their own In addition. a display can show nodes and
ia annotations and reports. links at several levels of detail. For exam-

R Scptcmbcr 1987 29
j%specks =(1859)-

Contemporary Thought:
Oarkin’s On tie Origin
of *ties by Means of
Natural Sekchfl, o f t i e
Preservation o f Favoured
Races in-tie Sruggk for We<
made several points thal hat I
major Impact on
nlnetrenlh-century lhoupht
(1) That biOlOQlCal types
or species do not have a ked,
Slatit existence but edsl in
permzmcnt states ol c h a n g e
and rlbq

Figure 8. The Intermedia System. This figure illustrates materials from an Infermedia corpus catled “Bio 106: Cell Biology in
Conlexl.” Three folder windows containing hierarchically organized documents of different types are open in fhc upper left
side of the display. An IntcrText document (lower let1 side) and an InterVal document (upper right side) are currently open, as
well as an IntcrDraw documcnl containing a scanned electronmicrograph (lower middle). This image has been linked to a cor-
responding three-dimensional image displayed in an InterSpect document (lower right). The “lower tracking map” (center)
shows the links emanaling from the current document. Authors or browsers can manipulate the three-dimensional imnge, edit
lexl and graphics, follow links or create links at any time in this environmenf. (The electronmicrograph of Micromonas was
published in the Joltrnol oJPhycology and is reprinted with the permission of the Editor.)

ing higher level applications 10 define their example, a program is a box that contains A to box B appears within A as a bos
own accessing mechanisms on the graph. some boxes that provide input and output whichsh6ws B. But a port is more than
The HAM also provides a demon mecha- variables, and other b&es that specify just a view of rhe destination box, because
nism chat invokes arbitrary code when a behavior. The system also supports alter- the destination box can be changed
specific HAM event occurs. nate views of some boxes: A box which through any of the porls which lead to it,
specifies a graphics routine can also show and the changes willbe reflected in all of
diSes.w’s Boxer. Boxer” is a highly that graphic display. these ports.
interacIive programming languagespecif- Since Boxer is a programming language, Hicrsrchy is more nalurally expressed in
icall! tailored IO be easy for noncomputcr it Ire315 cross-reference links in a special Boxer than in many of the o:her hypertext
specialists co learn. Boxer uses a box to tvay. Rather than using mousable icons as systems. Boxes are nested within each
rcpresenr a unit of information in the sys- links, Boxer uses a specialized box, called other Iwo-dimensionally. and arc fillcrcd
tem. In Boxer, one box cm contain other a “ p o r t , ” \vhich giws a direct view imo rhc 10 reduce rhc level of clutter on the screen.
- boxes, or data such as ICXI or graphics. For desrination. For example, a port from box This system oi representation has the

30 COMPUTER

-
NCDtUnt OOCUmCnU: Crwh IrowIer

NeDtUne Documl

Context3 becificatio
CSW Paper

[Kc6861 KdQ, R.H.. chang. E. and Bhatela, R. Venlon modeling concepts for
MufUmedla content
computer-tided derlgn dtiua. Proc. ACM SlCMOD ‘86.
(May 1986) 379-386. -
The name hypertext Is actually a misnomer for many of
several Wtems. lncludlng Augment, Xanad IMeytLl Meyrow~ N
NeV-unc+md and the Oectronlc Document Syste , . Intermedla: The Archttecture and ConsQuctlon of an
Object-Oriented HypenIJCdla System and Clgplicationr Framework.
contents of a node to text. In general the content of a
Proc. KM OOPSLA’86, (Nov 1986) 186-201.
can be tikrtrary dlgltal data whose Interpretadon may )nc
or digked speech.
[NclKl~~~ Nelson, T.H. Mrrory Mathfnrs.
T.H. Nelson. SwarKhmore. PA.. 1981.

CRMN11 I Robertson. C., McOacken. 0. and Newell, A. The 2OC approach to


man-machlne communication.
lnrrrnoclonol)ournolof Mon-Uocblnt StudIts. 1 4 , 461-488. 1981.

in Figure 9. Neptune browsers. Three browsers from Neptune are illustrated. A pictorial view of a network of nodes and links is
It shown in the Graph Browser (the upper window). The lower righf window and the lower pane of the Document Browser arc
1, as viewers for lest nodes. Icons reprcscnfing link affachmrnfs are shown embedded wifhin fhc fexf in each of fhe nodes.
:or-
)
gdit
ts

advantage of showing a natural hierarchy tigate more general hypertext design /ions, which can be defined implicitly b)
of nodes: The windows of lower-level issues. I9 Much of the interactive feel of a predicate (called an absrracr collenion)
! box nodes are nested directly within their par- CREF reflects the style of use and pro- or explicitly by a list (called a sroric collec-
than ents. In;most hypertext systems, no gramming of the Symbol& Lisp machine, lion). At any rime, the selectedcollectiijh
lause attempt is made to display the parent-child on which it was built. Chunks of text. appears as a continuous length of text with
mged relationship once the nodes are opened as called segments, constitute the nodes in the the segment boundaries marked by named
to it, windows. system. Segments are arranged in linear horizontal lines (such as “Segment 1,”
aLI of series, and can have key\vords and various “Segment 2.” etc.). This view can be
Pirman’s CREF. The Cross-Referenced kinds of links to other segments. The edited as if it were a sin& document.
cd in Editing Facility (CREF) is a prototype of notion of a linear set of segments is naru- One way of forming an abstract collec-
Ti f a specialized text and graphics editor ral to the protocol analysis problem, since tion is by selecting segments using a
et which was developed originally as a tool the first srcp with such protocols is to seg- boolean predicate over keywords. To
.crfb- for use in analyzing the transcripts from mcnt them into the cpisodcs of the cxpcr- cslcntl lhc power of this keyword f;icilily.
.--cccn , psychological cspcrimcnts (known aspro- imcntal s e s s i o n . CREF allows the user to dcrinc a type hicr-
the rocols), but which was also used to inves- CREF organizes segments into co//ec- archy on the keywords. For example, if

TER September 1987 31


.
I
. .

“card 105” is defined as a type of (i.e., a features of the experimental hypertext


childof) “card,” then collections based on technologies. Indeed, this area of invcsti-
the keyword “card” will also contain seg- gation may become an important fifth cat-
ments which have only “card 105” as a egory for hypertext systems of the future.
keyword. special support for txewablr links. which The history of hypertext presented here
CREF supports four kinds of links: will give it the flavor of a programming suggests that the concept and the advan-
rejerences links cross-reference among language. HyperCards will be bundled tages of hypertext were clear several
segments; summarizes links impose hier- with the system software in new Macin- decades ago, but that widespread interest
archy (a summary is a segment which has toshes. in hypertext was delayed until the support-
one or more summarizes links to other seg ing technology was cheap and readily
nents); supersedes links implement ver- MCC’s PlaneText. PlaneText, devcl- available. This suggestion may be mislead-
sioning by copying the superseded segment oped in the MCC Software Technology ing. Many of the “elders” of the field feel
and freezing it; and precedes links riace a Program (STP), is a very recent addition that something else has changed as well.
linear ordering on segments. to the family of general hypertext sys- They feel that today computer users eas-
Finally, CREF allows multiple analysts tems. l PlaneText is based on the Unix file ily accept the role of the computer as a tool
to compose different 0zeorierabout a pro- system and the Sun SunView window for processing ideas, words, and symbols
tocol, using the same segmented data. manager. Each node is a Unix file. Links (in addition lo numbers and mere data),
Each theory imposts its own structure on appear as names in curly brackets (I}) and as a vchiclc of intcrhuman communi-
the data, and has its own collections, dia- whose display can be turned on and off. cation. Those theorists who gave presen-
grams, keywords, and annotations. This Links are implemented as pointers saved tations of their hypertext systems 20 years
mode of selection is similar to the notion in separate files, so that the linked files ago, using expensive state of the art hard-
of contexts or webs used in other systems. themselves are not changed by creating ware, report that the computer science
hypertext references between them. This community showed little interest. This
Hyperfexl on rhe Mucintosh. At least design allows for the smooth integration lack of interest seemed to stem as much
two programs have been written for the of hypertext into the rest of the Unix-based from a lack of understanding of the basic
Apple Macintosh that provide hypertext computational environment, including concepts of hypertext as from a lack of
facilities: FileVision and Guide. such tools as Mail and News. It allows for hardware resources.
File\‘ision is primarily oriented to the hypertext annotation of standard If this is so, then the recent upsurge in
graphics nodes and to applications which source code files. In addition, the Unix file interest in hypertext may signal that the
can exploit visual indexing. The advertis- directory system serves as a “free” mech- computer community is now ready IO con-
ing for FileVision describes applications anism for creating hierarchical structures sider its technology as much a tool for
that encourage visual indexing. For exam- among nodes. l * communication and augmenting the
ple, in the database for a travel agency, the PlaneText supports color graphics human intellect as for analysis and infor-
map of a region may contain icons for the nodes which can be freely linked into a mation processing. Hypertext is certainly
main-cities in that region. The user clicks hyperdocument. a large step in that direction.
on the icon for a city to obtain a display of
a map of that city. The map of the city may Summary. The systems in this section
have icons for the major landmarks in the were presented in terms of four broad cat-
city. The user clicks on one of these icons egories: macro literary systems, problem The Essence of
to obtain a display of data about the land- exploration systems, structured browsing Hypertext
mark, or perhaps even to obtain a picture systems, and general hypertext technol-
of the landmark itself. ogy. Table 1 summarizes this discussion It is tempting to describe the essence of
Guide is a more recent program which and provides a breakdown of the various hypertext as its ability to perform high-
is based on an earlier Unix version devel- features which current hypertext systems speed, branching transactions on textual
oped in England.” It does not provide the can include. chunks. But this is a little like describing
graphics capabilities of FileVision One additional area of research cur- the essence of a great meal by listing its
(graphics are supported but cannot con- rently is the development of systems which ingredients. Perhaps a better description
tain links), but it does support textual’ aid the entire process of design, particu- would focus on hypertext as a computer-
hypertext data very well. Guide uses three larly the informal upstream aspects. Such based medium for thinking and commu-
kinds of links: replacemenl /inks, which systems require the features of hypertext n i c a t i o n .
cause the text in the current window to be problem exploration and structured - The tinking process does not build new
completely rep&d by the text pointed to browsing systems as well as the advanced -ideas one at a time, starting with nothing
by the link; note links, which display the and turning out each idea as a finished
destination text in a pop-up window; and -11 is perhaps loo early IO s a y . h o w e v e r . h o w pearl. Thinking seems rather to proceed on
P4rneTc.u will rank in Ihe world of hypcrlexl, since ;I several fronts at one, developing and
reference links, which bring up a ne\y win-
will only be publicly available rrom the pjrlicipanl
dow with the destination text. Guide is companies in the hICC;Sof~warc Technology Pro-
rejecting ideas at different lcvcls and on
now available for PCs as well. gram. For mote informalion call Bill SwLcrbcry x different points in parallel, each idea
hlCC. (512) 343-097s.
As this article goes to press, there is news depending on and contributing to the
that Apple will soon have its own hyper- ‘7hc use of an existing Ircc-slruc!uring mechanism others.
text system, called HypcrCards. Hyper- limits any hypwexl sy$lcm IO only being able IO ban- The recording and communication of
dlc J single hwarchical vrwurc. Single hicrarrhisal
Cards will bc similar in some ways to organirnllonr may be too limucd for some advanced
such cntwir!cd lines of thought is challcng-
Xerox PARC’S NotcCards. It will provide applicalions. ing because communication is in practice

32 COhlPUTER
. ;-;.
-. _’
.’

.I “.
. -:- ,:

However, not all link traversals can be


ertext
IVCSli-
:h cat-
.
i
,
a serial process and is, in any case, limited
by the bandwidth of human linguistic
processing. Spoken communication of
instantaneous. Perhaps as important as
rapid response is providing cues to the user
‘Jt c:, parallel themes must mark items with about the possible delay that a given query
y-.”
Jh stresses, pauses, and intonations which the than the nodes. The links form the “glue” or traversal might entail. For example,
dr listener must remember as the speaker that holds the nodes together, but the some visual feature of the link icon could
:vezl develops other lines of argument. Graphi- emphasis is on the contents of the nodes. indicate whether the destination node is in
terest cal forms can use lists, figures, and tables From a computer science viewpoint, the memory, on the disk, somewhere else on
@port- ‘to present ideas in a less than strictly lin- essence of hypertext is precisely that it is a the network, or archived off line.
.adily ear form. These visual props allow the hybrid that cuts across traditional bound-
ilead- reader/viewer to monitor the items which aries. Hypertext is a durubuse mqthod, Properties oJlinks. Links can be used
d feel he must understand together. One of the providing a novel way of directly access- for several functions. These include the
well. challenges of good writing, especially good ir,g data. This method is quite different following:
i eas- technical writing, is to present several par- from the traditional use of queries. At the l They can connect a document refcr-

I tool allel lines of a story or an argument in a same time, hypertext is a represenfalion encc IO the document itself.
lbols way that weaves them together coherently. scheme, a kind of semantic network which l They can connect a comment or anno-

ata), Traditional flat text binds us to writing mixes informal textual material with more tation to the text about which it is written.
luni- and reading paragraphs in a mostly linear formal and mechanized operations and l They can provide organizational

:sen- succession. There arc tricks for signaIling processes. Finally, hypertext is an inrerfuce information (for instance, establish the
icars branching in the flow of thought when mod&y that features “control buttons” relationship between two pieces of text or
lard- necessary: Parenthetical comments, foot- (link icons) which can be arbitrarily between a table of contents entry and its
cnce notes, intersectional references (such as embedded within the content material by section).
This “see Chapter 4”), bibliographic refer- the user. These are not separate applica- l They can connect two successive

nuch ences, and sidebars all allow the author to tions of hypertext: They arc metaphors for pieces of text, or a piece of text and all of
2asic say “here is a related thought, in case you a functionality that is an essential union of its immediate successors.
.k of are interested.” There arealso many rhe- all three. l They can connect entries in a table or

torical devices for indicating that ideas figure to longer descriptions, or to other
;e in belong together as a set but are being The power of linking. In the next two tables or figures.
the presented in linear sequence. But these are sections of this article, I will explore links Links can have names and types. They
Jon- rough rools at best, and often do not pro- and nodes in more detail as the basic build- can have a rich set of properties. Some sys-
for. vide the degree of precision or the speed ing blocks of hypertext. tems allow the display of links to be turned
tt and convenience of access that we would on and off (that is, removed from the dis-
for. __ like. Linkjollowing. The most distinguishing play so that the document appears as ordi-
Ully Hypertext allows and even encourages characteristic of hypertext is its machine nary text).
the wrirer to make such references, and support for the tracing of references. But The introduction of links into a text sys-
allows the readers to make their own deci- what qualif::s a particular reference- tem means that an additional set of
sions about which links to follow and in tracing device as a link? How much effort mechanisms must be added for creating
what order. In this sense, hypertext eases is permissible on the part of a user who is new links, deleting links, l changing link
the restrictions on the thinker and writer. attempting to trace a reference? The names or attributes, listing links, CIC.
It dots not force a strict decision about accepted lower limit of refcrcncing sup-
whether any given idea is either within the port can be specified as follows: To qualify Rejerentiul links. There are two
sof flow of a paper’s stream of thought or out- as hypertext, a system should require no methods for explicitly linking two points
gh- side of it. Hypertext also allows annota- more than a couple of keystrokes (or in hypertext-by reference and by organ-
aal tions on a text to be saved separately from mouse movements) from the user to follow ization. The reference method is a nonhi-
‘ng the reference document, yet still be tightly a single link. In other words, the interface erarchical method. It uses referential links
its bound to the referent. In this sense, the must provide links which act like “magic that connect points or regions in the text.
on “linked-ness” of hypertext provides much buttons” to transport the user quickly and Referential links are the kind of link that
“r- of its power: It is the machine processible easily to a new place in the hyper- most clearly distinguishes hypertext. They
u- links which extend the text beyond the sin- document. generally have two ends, and are usually
gle dimension of linear flow. Another essential characteristic of directed, although most systems support
CW At the same time, some applications hypertext is the speed with which th+sys- “backward” movement along the link.
ng demonstrate that the “node-ness” of tern responds to referencing requests. Only The origination of the link is called the
ed hypertext is also very powerful. Particu- the briefest delay should occur (one or two “link source,” and usually acts as the
Xl lariy when hypertext is used as a thinking, seconds at most). Much design work goes rejerence. The source can logically be
a.d writing, or design tool, a natural cor- into this feature in most systems. One rea- either a single point or a region of tesl. At
In respondence can emerge between the son for this concern is that the reader often the other end. the “destination” ofrhc link
ra objects in the world and the nodes in the does not know if he wants to pursue a link usually functions as the rejpren/, and can
1e hypertext database. By taking advantage reference until he has had a cursory look
of this object-oriented aspect, a hypertext at the referenced node. If making this ‘Link dclction is problematical. For example. what

‘f - user can build flexible networks which judgement takes too long, the user may should the policy be lo: nodes which art slrandcd
when all their links have been dclcwd? Should they be
2 model his problem (or solution). In this become frustrated and not bother with the placed in “node limbo” umil the user dcudcs u t3l IO
:e application the links arc less important hypertext links. do with them?

R September I987 33
1
. . : -- ,

from its neighboring material within the


same node raises a tough implementation
issue-how lo display the selected region
to the user. It must be highlighted some-
how, using reverse video, fonts, or color,
A but each of these options poses difficulties
in keeping overlapping regions clearly
kl dlksjdf dkf a1 lclrldfj rrlkdfj
rljrrd asdlkIj;l fjrlkja rl;kjd jl highlighted. The Intermedia designers pro-
pose to draw a light box around regions
and a darker box around region/region
overlaps, thus shoying a single level of
WC vklnrd; vkluv cvolcw.m k o i
ionolf flkd. overlapping”; however, this technique is
not effective if there are more than two
sov VI voinrek voicwd. vicnm
aio vim”8 lvdrll vinocrn vi dinv
overlapping regions.
war alkr 111 relubc rcbicr uvrcbx Another difficulty posed by link regions
rhkrkb ‘Ikdrlkt,d djnvuln’ dfol is how to show the name of the link. Unlike
rew cv ebnwe iubvi cvubw viu
iuhrdibn dcncwin niouc dsiub a link point, a link region has no obvious
indri iourk dk d# iuwi. -
position for a title, unless it is placed
arbitrarily at the beginning oi end of the
L B region.
Bgb rdkj dlkjx kcwoj vodiu od roi Link regions can also be difficult to
rlkcid rdoi rionrl dsia.fl sol dir of
I roijsdi sdoijrd oid8 d i o r of dsoi manipulate. Designers must devise a sys-
rdoi ldoir rdoids droijrd doi dsoids tem for copying, moving, modifying, and
I s oiordj twos sdoie dioicwnrxon
oridoiw roidn. deleting the region and the substrings
within it. The movement of regions
Ywe WC d coid soinvcoiz zxoid di
rdoia aroinv aoidrna oianaois dnoi involves logistical dilemmas which are not
rcrndoia a aoindr roid oid odno easy to resolve: For example, when one
roir roidnroinao o oirdo dcioiod
aoiaal. moves a major portion of the text in a des-
tination region lo someplace else in the
node, should the link destination move
with it or stay with what remains? Also,
,
designers must make special provisions for
- Figure 10. An example of a link with a point source and a region destination. The deleting, moving, or copying the defining
source of the link is a token in the lext of document A which contains a textual end points of a region.
identifier (“xxxx”). The identifier may be (1) the name of the destination node (in
this case it would be “B”), (2) the name of the link, or (3) an arbitrary string which Organizational links. Like reference
is neither the name of the link nor the destination node. The destination of this link links, organizational links establish
is node B which is a region. The link has an internal name (5327) which is normally explicit links between points in hypertext.
visible to the user. Organizational links differ from rcferen-
lial links in that lhcy implcmcnt hicr;lrchi-
cal information.
Organizational links connect a parent
node with‘ its children and thus form a
strict tree subgraph within the hypertext
network graph. They correspond to the IS-
also be either a point or a region. (See Fig- ure 10 illustrates the most common form A (or superconcept) links of semantic net
ure 10.) of hypertext link, in which the source is a theory, and thus operate quite differently
A linkpoint is some icon indicating the point and the destination is a region. This than referential links.’ For example,
presence of the link. It usually shows the example typifies many of the link applica- rather than appearing as explicit high-
link’s name and perhaps also its type. Or tions listed above, because it shows how a lighted tokens in each node, organiza-
it may show the name and/or type of the -chunk of text-a region-is written about tional links are often traversed by a
destination node. In systemssuch asNep- %r referenced by some smaller chunk of separate mechanism at the node control
tune which support links with both point text, often a sentence. Since most readers level (i.e., special goto-parent, goro-jifst-
source and point destination, the icon also are accustomed to single point references child, and golo-nexl-sibling commands).
indicates which type of linb is indicated, In to sentences (i.e., footnotes), they have no In other cases, there are organizational
some systems, the display of links can be problem accepting a link with a point nodes (such as tot nodes in Tcxtner and
supprcsscd. so that the documents appear source. There can be regions in graphics as FilcBoses in NotcCards) which record the
linear. well-either bordered regions or collcc- organizational structure.
A fink region is a set of contiguous Cons of graphic objecrs in a figure.
-- characters which is displayed as a single Link regions can pose difficult design
unit. In Figure 10, the link destination is problems. They arc casiesl to implemcnr
a link region, namely, an entire node. Fig- as whole nodes. since setting a region OTT

34 COMPUTER
tin the Keyword links. In addition to the several ways. Links can connect more than
station explicit linking performed by referential two nodes to form clusterlinks. Such clus-
reee, and organizational links, there is a kind of ter links can be useful for referring to
implicit linking that occurs through the use several annotations with a single link, and
C of keywords. This type of linking is yet to for providing specialized organizational
CUlliES be fully explored. (73 percent) of which connected FileBoxes structures among nodes. Indeed, the tot
Aearly One of the chief advantages of text stor- to each other or to individual notecards, nodes of Textnet and the FileBoxes of
rs pro- age on a computer is the ability to search 261 (7.5 percent) of which were nonhier- NoteCards are both forms of clusIer links.
egions large and complex documents and sets of archical referential links, and the One useful way to extend the basic link
region documents for substrings and key- remainder of which were mail links (used is to place attribute/value pairs on links
,vel of words. l Naturally, this ability is also a by the system to tic mail messages to other and IO query the network for them. The
ique is valuable aspect of hypertext. Indeed, most nodes). This example, for what if is worth, Neptune system, for example, has an
.n two users of large hyperdocuments insist on suggests that hierarchical structure is very architecture that is optimized for this func-
having some mechanism for scanning their important in organizing a hypertext net- tion. Coupled with specialized routines in
tgions content, either for selected keywords work, and that referential links are impor- the daIabase interpreter (the HA1\1), these
Jnlike (which can apply to nodes, links, or tant but less common. aIIribute lists allow users to customize
lvious regions) or for arbitrary embedded strings. One advantage of a strictly tree-oriented links in several ways, including devising
llaced From a funcIiona1 standpoint, link fol- system is that the command language for their own type system for links and per-
of Ihe lowing and search are similar: Each is a navigation is very simple: From any node, forming high-speed queries on the types.
way to access destination nodes that are of the most one can do is go to the parent, a It is also possible to perform procedural
ult to possible interest. Link following usually sibling, or a child. This simplicity also attachments on alink so that traversing the
a sys- yields a single node, whereas search can diminishes the disorientation problem, link also performs some user-specified side
:, and yield many; hence, a keyword is a kind of since a simpler cognitive model of the effect, such as customizing the appearance
Irings implicit computed link. The value of this information space will suffice. of the destination node. This ability is
.gions insight is that it may allow design of a Of course, the great disadvantage of any provided in Neptune and Boxer.
ie not hypertext interface which is consistent hierarchy is that its structure is a function
n one across all link-tracing activities. of the few specific criteria thaI were used Hypertext nodes. Although the essence
a des- in creating it. For example, if one wishes of hypertext is its machine-supponed link-
n the To tree or nor to Iree. Some hypertext to investigate what sea-based life forms ing, the nodes contribute significantly IO
:110vr systems (for example, Emacs INFO) sup- have in common with land-based life defining the operations that a hyperrext
11, port only hierarchical structures, others forms, one may find that the traditional system can perform. Most users of hyper-
1s (such as Xanadu and Hyperties) provide classification of life forms into the plant text favor using nodes which express a sin-
~I&~ no specificsupport for hierarchical struc- and animal kingdoms breaks up the infor- gle concept or idea, and are thus much
tures, and others (such as Textnet and mation in the wrong way. The creator of smaller than traditional files. When nodes
NoIeCardsj support both kinds of a hierarchical organization must anticipate are used in Ihis fashion, hypcrIcxI
rcnce struclures. the most important crireria for later access introduces an intermediate level of
blish One could question just how sufficient to the information. One solution to this machine support between characrers and
‘text. strictly hierarchical structures are, and for dilemma is to allow the informaIion ele- files, a level which has the vaguely seman-
crcn- which applications they are sufficient and mcnIs IO be sIrucIured into mulIiple hier- tic aspect of being oricnIcd IO the cxprcs-
trchi- for which they are not. On the one hand, archies, thus allowing the world I O be sion of ideas. Bur this sizing is compleIely
abstraction is a fundamental cognitive “sliced up” into several orthogonal ar the discretion of the hypertext writer,
arent process, and hierarchical structures are the decompositions. Any hypertext system and Ihe process of determining how to
I-m a most natural structures for organizing which has hierarchy nodes, such as Text- modularize a document into nodes is an
rtext levels of abstraction. On the other hand, net (tot nodes) and NoteCards (FileBox art, because its impact on the reader is not
:c IS- cases obviously exist where cross- nodes), can perform this operation quite well understood.”
ic net hierarchical links are required. Frank easily. These are the only systems which
enIly Halasz, one of the developers of explicitly claim to support multiple hierar- The rnodulorizotion ofideos. Hb-pertext
nple, NoteCards, has gathered statistics on the chies. Indeed, one early user of NoteCards invites the writer to modularize ideas into
Tigh- hypefspuce of a single representative used the system in doing the research and units in a way IhaI allows (1) an individual
Gza- NoteCards user; this person had 1577 writing for a major project paper; he idea to be referenced elsewhere, and (2)
7y a nodes (cards) in all, 502 of whi& were File- imposed one organization on the data and alrernative Successors of a unir IO b e
:Irol Boxes (hierarchical nodes). Connecting his writings while doing the research, and offered to the reader (for instance, more
‘irsr- these nodes were a total of 3460 links, 2521 then quite a differenr (yer coexistent) detail, an example, bibliographic refer-
&). organization on the same maIerial IO pro- ences, or the logical successor). But the
inal duce his paper. As a generalization, it writer must also reckon \viIh the fact IhaI
7hcrc 1s some con~r~verry owr Ihc rela~ivc mcriu of
and kcy\vord reuieval PS opposed IO full WI search. On the seems thar engineering-orienIcd hypcrIext a hypcrIexI node, unlike a texIua1 para-
i the one hand, keyword rclricval is only as good as Ihe skill users prefer hierarchical organizations, graph, tends to be a stricr unit which does
and lhoroughncss of Ihe person sclwing Ihe key- whereas arts- or humanities-oriented users not blend seamlessly with its neighbors.
words. On Ihe olhcr hand. full 1~x1 search does no1
find all the rclcvan\ documcnls. nor does ir always find prefer cross-referencing 0rganizaIions. Some hypertext systems (Norecards,
only~hcrclcvan~documcncs. Ilrshor~omingsarcduc CREF, Boxer. FRES, NLS) nllow nodrs IO
in par* 10 fhc commonness Of synotlyms in English. In
addIllon, full ICX~ search can be compulalionally pro- Euetlsions IO basic links. CerIain fea- be viewed Iogether as if they were one big
hibuisc in large nelworks. tures of the link enable it to be extended in node, and this op:ion is essential for some

ER Seprember 1967 35
,. :.
applications (for example, writing and Scntisrrrr&reti Nodes.’ So far I have
.reading prose). But the boundaries around ‘spoken of the hypertext node as a struc-
nodes are always discrete and require tureless “blank slate” into which one
sometimes difficult judgcments about how might put a word or a whole document.
10 cleave the subject matter into suitable ment hierarchically (i.e., as an outline) at For some applications, there is growing
chunks. the same time that one adds new sections interesr in semistrucfured nodes-typed
The process of identifying a semanti- and embellishes existing ones. People nodes which contain labelled fields and
cally based unit, such as an idea or con- don? think in terms of “screenfulls”; they spaces for field values. The purpose of
cept, with a syntactic unit, such as a think in terms of ideas, facts, and evi- providing a template for node contents is
paragraph or hypertext node, is not unique dence. Hypertext, via the notion of nodes to assist the user in being complete and IO
to hypertext. Manuals of style notwith- as individual expressions of ideas, provide assist the computer in processing the
standing, traditional text has rather loose a vehicle which respects this way of think- nodes. The less that ihecontent of a node
conventions for modularizing text into ing and working. is undifferentiated natural language (for
paragraphs. This looseness is acceptable example, English) text, the more likely that
because paragraph boundaries have a rela- Typed nodes. Some hypertext systems the computer can do some kinds of limited
tively minor effect on the flow of the read- sort nodes into different types. These processing and inference on the textual
ing. Paragraph boundaries are sometimes lypednodes can be extremely useful, par- subchunks. This notion is closely related
provided just IO break up the text and give ticularly if one is considering giving them to Malone’s notion of semistructured
the eye a reference point. Thus, decisions some internal structure, since the types can information systems.” ~
about the distribution of sentences among be used IO differentiate the various struc- To continue wirh the example of the
paragraphs is not always critical. tural forms. Design Journal, we have developed a
Hypertext, on the other hand, can For example, in our research in the model for the internal structure of deci-
enforce a rather stern information hiding. MCCSoftwareTechnologyProgram,we sions. The model is named ISAAC. It
In some systems, the only clue a user has have been implementing a hypertext inter- assumes that therearc four major compo-
as to the contenrs of a destination node is face for a design environment called the nents 10 a design decision:
the name of the link (or the name of the Design Journal. The Design Journal is (1) an issue. including a short name
node, if that is provided instead). The intended 10 provide an active scratchpad for the issue and a short paragraph
writer is no longer making all the decisions in which the designer can deli5erate about describing it in general terms;
about the flow of the text. The reader can design decisions and rationale, both (2) a set of olfernarives, each of which
and must constantly decide which links IO individually and in on-line design meet- resolves the issue in a different way,
pursue. In this sense, hypertext imposes on ings, and in which he can integrate the each having a name and short
both the writer and the reader the need for design itself with this less formal kind of description, and each potentially
more process awareness, since either one information. For lhis purpose we have linked to the design documents or ele-
has the option of branching in the flow of provided a set of four typed nodes for the ments that implement the alternative;
the text. Thus hypertext is best suited for designer to use -noles, goals/consfrainrs, (3) an analysis of the competing alter-
applicarions which require these kinds of ani/octs, and decisions. Nofes arc used for natives, including the specific criteria
judgcments an)-way, and hypcrlcxt mcrcly cvcrything from reminders, such as “Ask being used IO evaluate them, rhe
offers a way 10 act directly on these judge- Bill for advice on Module X,” to specific trade-off analysis among these alter-
menrs and see [he results quickly and problems and ideas relating 10 the design. natives, and links to any data that the
graphically. Goals/constraints are for the initial analysis diaws upon; and
requirements as well as discovered con- (4) a commifmenf IO one of the alter-
ldeosus objects. While difficult to docu- straints within the design. Artifacts are for
ment, there is something very compelling the elements of the output: The Design. natives (however tentatively) or co a
about reifying the expression ofideas into And decisions are for capturing the branch vector of preferences over the alter-
discrete objects [o be linked, moved, and points in the design process, the alterna- natives, and a subjective rating about
changed as independent entities. Alan Ka) tives considered by the designer, and some the correctness or confidence of this
and Adele Goldberg” observed of of the rationale for any commitment (how- commitment.
Small[alk that ir is able to give objects a ever remalive) that has been made. The Without getting into the details of the
perceptual dimension by allocating to designer captures assumptions in [he form underlying theory, I merely wish 10 stress
them a rectangular piece of screen real of decisions with only one alternative. Our here that the internal structure of ISAAC
estate. This feature offers enhanced prototype of the Design Journal uses color suggests that the author of an IStiC deci-
retrieval and recognition over computer- to distinguish between note types in the sion is engaged in a+ch more structured
processed flat documents, because 10 a browser, and we have found this to be a activity than just “writing down the deci-
much greater degree abstract objects are very effective interface. sion,” and the reader is likewise guided by
directly associated with perceptual Hypertext systems that use typed nodes the regularity of the ISAAC structure.
objects --rhe windows and icons on the generally provide a specialized color, size. Of course, it may not be clear why \ve do
screen. or iconic form for each node type. The dis- not treat each of [hc elements lisred above
Paragraphs, sections. and chaprers in a tinguishing fearures help the user differen- as its own typed hypertest node. The rea-
book, viewed through a standard text edi- tiate at a glance rhe broad classes of typed son is that the parts of an ISAAC frame
tor or word processor, don’t stand out as nodes that he is working wirh. Systems are much more rightly bound logether
first-class entities. This is particularly such as NoteCards, Intermedia, and IBIS than ISAAC frames are bound IO each
apparent when one can view one’s docu- make cstensivc USC of typed nodes. other. For example, we could not have an

36 COXIPUTER

-
have analysis part without an alternatives part; importance of hypenelt is simply that
illUC- yet if we treat them as separate hypertext references are machine-supported. Like
I f!,, nodes, we have failed to build this con- hyperlext, traditional literature is richly
straint into the structure. The general issue interlinked and is hierarchically organircd.
‘-4 here is that some information elemeqts One problem with composite nodes is In traditional literature. the medium of
:yped must always occur together, while others that as the member nodes grow and change print for the most part resfricts the flow of
i and may occur together or not, depending on the aggregation can become misleading or reading IO folicw the tlow of linearly
se of how related they are in a given context and incorrect. A user who encounters this arranged passages. However, the process
nts is how important it is to present them as a problem is in the same predicament as a of following side links is iundamental even
nd to cluster distinct from “surrounding” infor- writer who has rewritten a section of a in the mediumof print. In fact, library and
: the mation elements. This problem is recur- paper so thoroughly that the section title information science consist principally of
node siVe: /.n element that is atomic at one level is no longer accurate. This “semantic the investigation of side links. Anyone
: (for may turn Out on closer inspection to con- drift” can be difficult to catch. who has done research knows that a con-
y that lain many components, some of which are siderable portion of that effort lies in
nited clustered together. Analog\’ to semantic networks. The idea obtaining referenced works, looking up
xtual In hypertext this tension presents itself of building a directed graph of informal cross-references, looking up ccrms in a dic-
lated as the twin notions of scmistructurcd textual elements is similar lo the Al con- tionary or glossary, checking tables and
.urcd nodes and composite nodes. cept of semonlic nerbvofks. A semantic figures, and making noles on notecards.
Composite nodes. Another mechanism network is a knowledge representalion Even in simple reading one is constantl)
f the for aggregating related information in scheme consisting of a directed graph in negotiating references to other chapters or
ed a hypertext is the composife node. Several which concepts are represented as nodes, sections (via the table of contents or refer-
deci- related hypertext nodes are “glued” and the relationships between concepts are ences embedded in the test), index entries,
c. It together and the collection is treated as a represented as the links between them. footnotes, bibliographic references, side-
mpo- single node, with its own name, types, ver- What distinguishes a semamic network as bars, figures, and tables. Often a text
sions, etc. Composite nodes are most use- an AI representation scheme is fhat con- invites the reader to skip a section if he is
ne ful for situations in which the separate cepts in the representation are indexed by not interested in greater technical detail.
,h items in a bulleted list or the entries in a their semantic content rather than by some But there are problems with the rradi-
table are distinct nodes but also cohere into arbitrary (for example, alphabetical) tional methods.
hicb a higher level structure (such as the list or ordering. One benefit of semantic net- l Most references can? be traced back-
:y table). This practice can, however, under- works is that they are natural to use, since wards: A reader can nor easily find where
mine the fundamental association of one related concepts tend to cluster together in a specific book or article is referenced in
interface object (window) per database the network. Similarly, an incompletely or a document, nor can the aurhor of a paper
ele- object (node), and rhus must be managed inconsistently defined concept is easy to find out who has referenced the paper.
;..
.e; well to avoid complicating the hypertext spot since a meaningful context is provided l As the rcadcr winds his way down vnr-
;‘“r_ idiom unduly. by those neighboring concepts IO which it ious refercncc trails, he must keep track of
tria is
A composite node facility allows a alreadY linked. which documents he has visited and which
group of nodes to be treated as a single The analogy to hypertext is straightfor- he is done with.
:r- node. The composite node can be moved ward: Hypertext nodes can be thought of l The rcadcr must squeeze annotations
the and resized. and closes up to a suitable icon as representing single concepts or ideas, into the margins or place rhem in a sepa-
reflecting its contents. The subnodes are internode links as representing the seman- rate document.
er- separable and rearrangeable through a tic interdependencies among these ideas, l Finally, following a referential trail
a subedit mode. The most flexible means of and the process of building a hypertext net- among paper documents requires subsran-
r- displaying a composite node is to use a work as a kind of informal knowledge tial physical effort and delays, even if the
out constraint language (such as that devel- engineering. The difference is that Al reader is working at a well-stocked library.
:is oped by Symbolics for Constraint Frames) knowledge engineers are usually striving to If the documents are on linc, the job is eas-
which describes the subnodes as panes in build representations which can be ier and faster, but no less tedious.
the composite node window and specifies mechanically interpreted, whereas the goal
the
the interpane relationships as dynamic of the hypertext writer is often to capture New possibilities for authoring and design.
-ess an interwoven collection of ideas without
constraints on size and configuration. Hypertext mayoffer new Ilays for authors
;4C
Composite nodes can be an effective regarda their-machine interpretability. and designers to work. Authoring is
Xi-
means of managing the problem of having The work on semantic networks also sug- usually viewed as a word- and sentence-
red
a large number of named objects in one’s gests some natural extensions to hypertext, level activity. Clearly the \\ord processor l
tci-
environment. Pirman described the prob- such as typed nodes, semistructured nodes
: by (frames), and inheritance hierarchies of
lem this way:
In this sari of system. there is a never-ending node and link types.
do tension bctwecn trying 10 name everything (in
>V? which case, the number of named lhings can
2 grow quickly and rhescr can become quickly
ne unmanageable) or to name as little as Dossi- The advantages and
blc (in wvilich cm, ~hmgs thn! look J iot o f
tcr
trouble to COIISI~UCI can bc I~rd IO rctricvc
uses of hype&t
ch if one acciden[ally drops the poinrers [O
an rhem).lY Interrextual references are not new. The

.R Scptcmbcr 1987 37
.*I
, r

is a good tool for authoring at this level. if the text is moved, even to anolher
However; authoring obviously has much document, the linkinformation still
to do with structuring of ideas, order of provides direct access to the
presentation, and conceptual exploration. reference;
Few authors simply sit down and pour out mcmex. First he runs through an cncyclopc- ruskstucking: the user is supported in
a finished text, and not all editing is just dir, finds an interesting but sketchy article. having several paths of inquiry active
“wordsmithing”and polishing. In a broad leaves it projected. Next, in a history, he finds and displayed on the screen at the
sense, authoring is the design o/u docu- another pertinent hem, and ties the two same time, such that any given path
together. Thus he goes, building a trail of
menf. The unit of this level of authoring is many items. Occasionally he inserts a com- can be unwound to theoriginal task;
the idea or concept, and this level of work ment of his own. either linking it into the collaboration: several authors can
can be effectively supported by hypertext, main :rail or joining it by a side trail to a par- collaborate, with the document and
since the idea can be expressed in a node. ticular item. When it bccomu evident that the comments about the document being
elastic properties of available materials had
As the writer thinks of new ideas, he can a great deal to do with the bow, he branches tightly interwoven (the cxploratio-, of
develop them in their own ,lodes, and then off on a side trail which takes him through this feature has just begun).
link them to existing ideas, or leave them textbooks on elasticity and tables of physical
isolated if it is loo early to make such constants. He inserts a page of longhand
analysis of his own. Thus he builds a (perma-
associations. Thespecialized refinements
nent] trail of his interest through the maze of The disadvantages of
of a hypertext environment assist the
movement from an unstructured network
materials available IO him.* h y p e r t e x t
As we have seen, Bush’s notion of the
to the final polished document. “trail” was a feature of Trigs’s Testnet, There are two classes of problems with
allowing the hypertext author to establish hypertext: problems with the current
New possibilities for reading and
a mostly linear path through the docu- implementations and problems that seem
retrieval. Hypertext may also offer new
ment(s). The main (default) trail is well 10 be endemic to hypertext. The problems
possibilities for accessing large or complex
marked, and the casual reader can read the in the first class include delays in the dis-
information sources. A linear (nonhyper-
text in that order without troubling with play of referenced material, restrictions on
text) document can only be easily read in
the side trails. names and other proper:ies of links, lack
-the order in which the text flows in the
of browsers or deficiencies in browsers,
book. The essential advantage of non- Summary. We can summarize the opera- etc. The following section outlines two
linear text is the ability to organize text in
tional advantages of hypertext as: problems that are more challenging than
different ways depending on differing
ease of tracing references: machine these implementation shortcomings, and
viewpoints. Shasha provides the following
support for link tracing means that all that may in fact ultimately limit the useful-
description of this advantage:
references are equally easy to follow ness of hypertext: disorientation and cog-
Suppose you are a touris. interested in visit- nitive overhead.
ing museums in a foreign city. You may be forward to their referent, or back-
interested in visual arrs. You may want tosee ward to their reference;
museums in your local area. You may only ease of crearing new references: users Gttling “lost in space.” Along with the
bc inrcrcstcd in incxpcnsivc muscums. You can grow their own networks, or sim- power to organize information much more
ccrrainly want 10 make sure the museums you complexly comes the problem of having to
consider arc open when you want IO visit
ply annotate someone else’s docu-
them. Now your guidebook may be arranged ment with a comment (without know (1) where you are in the network and
by subject, by name of museum, by location. changing the referenced document); (2) how to get to some other place that you
and so on. The rroublc is: if you are inrercsted infortuorion slrucluring: both hierar- know (or think) exists in the network. I call
in any arrangcmcnt other than the one it uses, chical and nonhierarchical organiza- this the “disorientation problem.” Of
you may have IO do a lot of searching. You
tions can be imposed on unstructured course, one also has a disorientation prob-
are not likely IO find all the visual arts
museums in one secrion of a guidebook that information; even multiple hierar- lem in traditional linear text documents,
has been organized by district. You maycarry chies can organize thesame material; but in a linear text, the reader has only two
several guidebooks. each organized by a global views: browsers provide table- options: He can search for the desired text
criterion you may be inrcrcsred in. The num- earlier in the .tcxt or later in the text.
of-contents style views, supporting
ber of such guidebooks is a measure of the
need for a n o n l i n e a r texi s y s t e m . ” easier restructuring of large or com- Hypertext offers more degrees of freedom,
plex documents; global and local more dimensions in which one can move,
Another advantage is that it is quite nat- (node or page) views can be mixed and hence a greater potential for the user
ural in a hypertext environment IO suspend effectively; to become lost or disoriented. In a ner\vork
reading temporarily along one ,line of cusfouCzed documenrs: text segments of 1000 nodes, information can ea_sily
investigation while one looks into some can-& threaded together in many become hard to find or even forgoTten
detail, example, or related topic. Bush ways, allowing the same document to altogether. (See Figure i 1.)
described an appealing scenario in his 1945 serve multiple functions; There are two major technological solu-
article: rnodularily of infornlarion: since the tions for coping with disorientation-
The owner of the mcmcs. lcr us say, is same test segment can be referenced graphical browsers and qucry/scarch
inlcrcslcd in the origin and propcrtics of the from scverai places. ideas can be m e c h a n i s m s . Bro\rscrs rely on the
bow and arrow. Specifically hc is srudying expressed with less overlap and dupli- extremely highly developed visuospatial
why the shorr Turkish bow was apparently
superior IO rhe Enghsh long bow in [he skir-
cation; processing of the human visual system. By
mishes of lhc Crusades. He has dozens of consislency Of inforn~ofion: rcfer- placing nodes and links in a two- or thrce-
possibly pcrlincni books 2nd articles in his cnccs arccnlbcddcd in their test. and dirncnsionnl spasc, providing them with

38 COLIPIJTER
_ .
1 *
t
.: other
.. II still
Ihe

flC.,_

e
H-&e
path
task;
; can
t and
oeing
on of

with
-rent
,eem
lems
: dis-
1s on
lack
sers,
IWO
han
and
!f

the
lore
gto
3nd
JOU
call Figure 11. Tangled web of links. This experimental implementation of a global map in the Infermedia system shows lhe diffi-
Of culty of providing users with spatial cues once a linked corpus contains more than a few doien documents. This global map
Db- only represents about one tenth of the documents in a corpus designed for a survey of English literature course.
IIS.
‘WO
ext
:xt.
m,
ve, properties useful in visual differentiation large hyperdocument, one is by definition standard database search and query tcch-
XT (color, size, shape, texture), and maintain- disoriented. In addition, an adequate vir- niques to locating the node or nodes which
trk ing cert@n similarities to our physical envi- tuality is very difficult IO maintain for a the user is seeking. This is usua!J done by
ily tinment”(for example, no two objects large or complex hypertext network. Such using boolean operations IO apply some
en occupy the same space, things only move parameters as (1) large numbers of nodes, combination of keyword search, full string
if moved, etc.), browser designers are able (2) large numbers of links, (3) frequent search, and logical predicates on other
:u- 10 crcaie quite viable virtual spatial envi- changes in the nerwork, (4) slow or awk- attributes (such as author, time of crea-
ronments. Users orient themselves by vis- ward response to user control inputs, (5) lion, Iypc, c1c.) of nodes or links. Simi-
zh ual cuts, just as when fhcy arc walking or insufficicnr visual diffcrcnriation among larly, one can fihcr (or ellide) informaGon
he driving through a familiar city. However, nodes and/or links, and (6) nonvisually so thal the user is presented with a manage-
the:e is no narural topology for an infor- oriented users combine IO make it pracri- able level of complexity and detail, and can
j.__ malion space, except perhaps that higher tally impossible IO abolish rhe disoricnta- shifr the view o r the dclnil suppression
e- lcvcl conccprs go a[ rhc top or on the left [ion problem with a browser alone. w h i t e navigafing rhrough ~hc ncf\vork.
:h side, so until one is familiar with a given One solurion 10 this dilemma is IO apply Howcvcr, much research remains IO bc

9 September 1987 39
.

done on effective and standardized how do you decide if following the side for. But-1 also intended something more:
methods for eliision. path is worth the distraction? Does the that the reader come away from this rrti-
label appearing in the link tell you enough de excited, eager IO try using hypertext for
The cognitive task scheduling problem. to decide? This dilemma could be called himself, and aware that he is at the btgin-
The other fundamental problem with “informational myopia.“The problem is ning of something big, something like the
using hypertext is that it is difficult to that, even if the system response time is invention of the wheel, but something that
become accustomed to the additional men- instantaneous (which it rarely is), you still has enough rough edges that no one is
tal overhead required to create, name, and experience a defmite distraction, a “cog- really sure that it will fulfill its promise.
keep track of links. I call this “cognirive nitive loading,” when you pause to con- To that end, I mention one more book
overhead.” Suppose you are writing about sider whether to pursue theside path. This that might be considered to belong to the
X, and a related thought about Ycomes to problem can be eased by (1) having the literature on hypertext. Neuromoncer2’ is
mind and seems important enough to cap- cross-referenced node appear very rapidly a novel about a time in the distant future
ture. Ideally, hypertext allows you to sim- (which is tI-.e approach of KMS), (2) when the ultimate computer interface has
ply “press a button” (using some mouse providing an instantaneous one- to three- been perfected: One simply plugs one’s
or keyboard action) and a new, empty line explanation of the side reference in a brain into the machine and experiences the
hypertext window pops onto the screen. pop-up window (which is the approach of computer data directly as perceptual enti-
You record Yin this new window, then Intermedia), and (3) having a graphical ties. Other computers look like boxes
you press another button, the Y window browser which shows the local subnetwork floating in three-dimensional space, and
disappears, and you are in the Xwindow into which the link lcads. passwords appear as various” kinds of
right where you were when Yoccurred to These problems are not new with hyper- doors and locks. The user is completely
you. text, nor are they mere byproducts o f immersed in a virtual world, the “operat-
Unfortunately, the situation is a bit computer-supported work. People who ing system,” and can move around and
more complex than this scenario implies. think for a living-writers, scientists, take different forms simply by willing it.
If Y has just occurred to you, it may still artists, designers, etc.-must contend with This is the ultimate hypertext system.
be hazy and tentative; the smallest inter- the fact that the brain can create ideas The basic idea of hypertext, after all, is
ruption could cause you to lose it. Coming fasrcr than the hand can write them or the that ideas correspond to perceptual
up with a good word or short phrase to mouth can speak them. There is always a objects, and one manipulates ideas and
summarize Y may not be easy. You have balance between relining thecurrent idea, their relationships by directly manipulat-
to consider not just what is descriptive but returning to a previous idea to refine it, ing windows and icons. Current technol-
also what will be suggestive for the reader and attending to any of the vague “proto- ogy limits the representation of these
when he encounters the link to Ywithin X. ideas” which are hovering at the edge of objects to static boxes on a CRT screen,
In addition, you must determine whether consciousness. Hypertext simply offers a but one can easily predict that advances in
you should name the link to Y to suggest sufficiently sophisticated “pencil” IO animation, color, 3D displays, sound,
the contents of Yor to show Y’s relation- begin to engage the richness, variety, and etc.-in short, Nelson’s hypermedia-will
ship to X. Some systems (for example, interrelatedness of creative thought. This keep making the display more active and
NoteCards) provide that links can have aspect of hypertext has advantages when realistic, the data reprcsentcd richer and
both a type (such as “idea”) and a label this richness is needed and drawbacks more detailed, and the input more natural
(such as “subsume A in 5”). Coming up when it is not. and direct. Thus, hypcrtcxt, far from
with good names for both can impose even To summarize, then, the problems with being an end in itself, is just a crude first
more load on an author srruggling with an hypertext are step toward the time when the computer is
uncertain point. (One way to reduce this disorientation: the tendency to lose a direct and powerful extension of the
problem is for the authoring system IO sup- one’s sense of location and direction human mind, just as Vannevar Bush envi-
port immediate recording of the substance in a nonlinear document; and sioned when he introduced his Mcmex
of the idea, deferring the creation and cognitive overheud: the additional four decades ago.0
labeling of the link and/or the node unril effort and concentration necessary to
after the thought has been captured.) maintain several tasks or trails at one
Beyond that, you must also consider if time. Acknowledgements
you have provided sufficient links to Y
These problems may be at least partially
before returning to work on X. Perhaps I wish IO thank Les Bclady, Bill Curtis. Susan
resolvable through improvements in per-
there are better ways to link Y to the net- Gerhan. Raymondc Cuindon, Eric Gullichscn.
formance and interface design of hyper- Frank Halasz. Peter Marks, and Andy van Dam
work of thoughts than at the point in X
text systems, and through research on for their rhoughtful reading of previous drafts.
_ wher+_Y came to mind.
information filtering techniques.
Th? problem of cognitive overhead also
occurs in the process of reading hypertext, References
which tends to present the reader with a n this article, 1 have reviewed exist-
lar_ee number of choices about ‘which links ing hypertext systems, the opportu- 1. T.H. Nelson. “Gclting II Our of Our Sys-
(cm.” Injorrfraiio~l Rclrrcvul: 11 Crllrctrl
IO follow and which IO lcnvc alone. Thcsc nities and problems of hypcrtcxt, and I\‘cv;cw. C. Schcchlcr, c d . . ‘I‘hompron
Clioiccs cngcndcr a certain ovcrhcad of some of the top-level design issues of Books. Wash., D.C., 1967.
melalcvel decision making, an overhead building hypertext systems. It has been my 2. V. Bush, “As WC Xlny Think.” ,4llanrir
thar is absent when the author has alread) intention to give the reader a clear sense of ,Voonrh/~. July 1945. pp.lOl-109.
made many of thcsc choices for you. A t what hypertext is, what its strengths and 3. D.C. Engclbart. “A Conccplual Frnmc-
the moment that you cncountcr a link, wcakncsscs arc. and what it can bc used work f o r the Augmcnr~lion or ,Man’s

40 COMPUTER
I; .. .. .
: _, :_-.

more: Intcllcct ,” in V&as in In/wmolion Hon- 20. P.J. Brown, “interactive Docutncma~ion.”
dliq, Vol. I, Spartan Books, London, in Softwore: Practice o n d E x p e r i -
is arri-
1963. ence. March 1986. pp. 291-299.
y”/! for
4. D.C. Engclbart and W.K. English, “A 21. D. Shasha. “When Does Non-Linear Text
.- Research Center for Augmenting Human Help? fiperr Dotobase Systems, Proc. 01
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,;hat Part 1. The Thompson Book Company, 109-121.
*one is WashingI&, D.C.. 1968. 22. A. Kay and A. Goldberg, “Personal
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Word: A Complctc LitcrarySystem.“fFJP pp. 31-41.
: book Proc., October 1980, pp. 1013-1023.
E. Jeffrey Conklin is a m:mber of the rcscarc:
to the
23. T.W’. M a l o n e CI al. “Jntelligent staff and GE’s liaison to the Software Technol
6. R.H. Trigg, A Network-basedApproach IO Information-Sharing Systems,” Communi- ogy Program ht the Microzlectronicr and Corn
:ei’ is 7ex1 Handling jar Ihe Online Scientijic colionr o/ fhe ACM, M a y 1987. pp. puler Technology Corporation (MCC). Hi
future Communily, PhD. Thesis, University of 39042. research centers on constructing informatior
cc has Maryland, 1983. 24. W.Cibson. Neuromoncer. Ace Science Fit- syrtcms for the capture and USC of dcsigr
one’s 7. H. Rittcl and M. Webbcr, “Dilemmas in a lion. 1984. rationale.
General Theory of Planning,” PO/icy Conklin Received his BA from Ant&h Col-
:es the
Sciences, Vol. 4, 1973. A more detailed version of this article,
lege and his MS and PhD from the Universit)
.I enti- of Massachusetts at Amherst.
8. D.G. Lowe, “Cooperative Structuring of including an extended bibliography, is avail-
boxes I n f o r m a t i o n : The Rcprcscntatio? of able from the author. To obtain a copy, cir-
:, and Reasoning and Dcbatc,” in In/‘/. 1. ofMon- cle number 181 on the Rcadcr Service Card Readers may write to Conklin at MCCSofr-
ds of Machine Sludics,” Vol. 23, 1985, pp. at the back of the magazine. wareTechnology Program, P.O. Box 20019J.
97-111. Austin, TX 78720; (512) 3.t3-0978.
Aetely
?erat- 9. J.B Smith et al, “WE: A Writing Environ-
ment for Professionals,” Technical Report
3 and 86-025, Department of Computer Science,
ing it. University of North Carolina at Chapel
stem. Hill, August 1986.
all, is 10. W. Hershey, “Idea Processors,” BYTE.
.ptual June 1985, p. 337.
s and 11. D. McCracken and R.M. Akscyn, “Expe-
rience with the ZOG Human-computer
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Studies, Vol. 21, 1984, pp. 293-310.
User-Oriented Content-Based
these 12. B. Shneidcrman and J. Morariu, “The
Interactive Encyclopedia System (TIES),”
Text and Image Handling
:c_ . Department of Computer Science, Univer- MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHKOLOGY
und, sity of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742,
June 1986. Cambridge, MA March ZI- 24, 1988 n

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13. J.H. Walker. “The Document Examiner.”
General Theme: Information rctricval sysrcms for full-test a,ltl mixed
: and SIGGRAPH’ Video Re,ic.v. Edited Compi-
. and lation from CHI’85: iiumon Fuclors in
media databases handling:
tural Computing System, 19F5. l techniques designed to reduce m darn entry and control
‘ram 14. F.G. Halasr. T.P. Moran, and T.H. Trigg, imprecision in full-text database 9 “friendly” cni-user inrcrf3ccs
first “NoteCards in a Nutshell,” Proc. ojrhc searching 9 new media
ACM Con/. on llurnon Focrors in Cotnpul-
:cr is
&?.S.vsrems, Toronto, Canada, April 1987. SpeciGc Themes:
* the IS. N.L. Garrett, K.E. Smith, and N. Mcy-
:nvi-
A) Linguistic processing and interrogation of full-text databases.
rowitz. “Intermedia: Issues, Strategies, and
mex Tactics in the Design of a Hypermedia
B) Automatic thesaurus construction.
Document System,” in Proc. Con/. on C) Expert system techniques for rctricving information in full-tcxr and
Compufer-Supporfed Cooperafive Work, multimedia databases.
MCC Software Technology Program, Aus- D) Friendly user interfaces to classical information retrieval svstcms.
tin, Texas, 1986. E) Specialized machines and system architecture designed fir treating full-
16. N. Yankelovich, N. Meyrowitz, and A. van text data, including managing and accessing widely distributed databases.
Dam, “Reading and Writing the Elcc-
Jsan tronic Book,” Computer, October 1985.
F) Automatic database construction using scanning techniques, optical
ircn, 17. N. Delislc and M. Schwartz, “Neptune: A
character readers, output document preparation, ctc . . .
Iam Hypertext System for CAD Applications.” G) ScwapplicaZjons and pcrspcctivcs suggested by emerging new
IfIS. Proc. o_f ACM SIGMOD Inr’l Con/. on technologies.
Management of Dafa, Washington, D.C.,
May2830, 1986, pp. 132-143. (Alsoavail- DEADLCI’ES:
able as SIGhlOD Record Vol. IS, No. 2,
SEPTE.\IBER 30. 1987: Inrmtion ofsvbmi~?iqapnpcr.
June 1986).
OCTOBER 30. 1487: Four copier sioufdbe r&&l/! rhc Conjrrrnrc Sn-rrrnn’nr.
16. A. diScssa. “A Principled Design f o r a n
DECE.\IBER 16. 1987: Arcrpranrr nortjicarion.
Intcgrntcd Compufational Environment,”
Humon-Computer Inferoaion, V o l . 1,
Lawrence Erlbaum. 1985, pp. l-47.
T‘..- 19. K.M.Pitman. “CREF: An Editing Facility
f o r Xtanaging S t r u c t u r e d Text,” A.I.
nC- Memo No. 829, M.J.T. A.1. Laboratory,
n’s Cambridge, .Mass.. February 1985.
Submit papers LO, or for more information:
ER September 1987 RIAO 88 Confcrcncc Scnicc Of&c. MIT. Bldg. 7. J1m. 111, Cambridge. \I.-\ 02 139 USA

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