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"I remembered too that night which is at the middle of the Thousand and One Nights when Scheherazade (through a magical oversight of the copyist) begins to relate word for word the story of the Thousand and One Nights, establishing the risk of coming once again to the night when she must repeat it, and thus on to infinity…" --"The Garden of Forking Paths" (1941) Jorge Luis Borges

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Hypertext is digital text in which the reader may navigate related information through embedded hyperlinks.

The hypertext pages are interconnected by hyperlinks, typically activated by a mouse click, keypress sequence or by touching the screen. Apart from text, hypertext is sometimes used to describe tables, images and other presentational content forms with hyperlinks. Hypertext is the underlying concept defining the structure of the World Wide Web, with pages often written in the Hypertext Markup Language (aka HTML). It enables an easy-to-use and flexible connection and sharing of information over the Internet.

Note how hypertext is not just flat text with highlights or paragraphs omitted during display, but rather, the text is hyper-structured with hyperlinks or other structures embedded inside a page, including hidden search words, to control the display and connection with other pages or hypertext nodes.



History of hypertext

In 1941, Jorge Luis Borges created a hypertext style novel - The Garden of Forking Paths.

In 1945, Vannevar Bush wrote an article in The Atlantic Monthly called "As We May Think", about a futuristic proto-hypertext device he called a Memex.

In 1963, Ted Nelson coined the terms 'hypertext' and 'hypermedia' in a model he developed for creating and using linked content (first published reference 1965. He later worked with Andries van Dam to develop the Hypertext Editing System in 1967 at Brown University. Douglas Engelbart independently began working on his NLS system in 1962 at Stanford Research Institute, although delays in obtaining funding, personnel, and equipment meant that its key features were not completed until 1968. In December of that year, Engelbart demonstrated a hypertext interface to the public for the first time, in what has come to be known as "The Mother of All Demos".

The first hypermedia application was the Aspen Movie Map in 1977. In 1980, Tim Berners-Lee created ENQUIRE, an early hypertext database system somewhat like a wiki. The early 1980s also saw a number of experimental hypertext and hypermedia programs, many of whose features and terminology were later integrated into the Web. Guide, the first significant hypertext system for personal computers, was developed by Peter J. Brown at UKC in 1982.

In August 1987, Apple Computer released HyperCard for the Macintosh line at the MacWorld convention. Its impact, combined with interest in Peter J. Brown's GUIDE (marketed by OWL and released earlier that year) and Brown University's Intermedia, led to broad interest in and enthusiasm for hypertext and new media. The first ACM Hypertext academic conference took place in November 1987, in Chapel Hill NC, where many other applications, including the hypertext literature writing software Storyspace were also demoed

Meanwhile Nelson, who had been working on and advocating his Xanadu system for over two decades, along with the commercial success of HyperCard, stirred Autodesk to invest in his revolutionary ideas. The project continued at Autodesk for four years, but no product was released.

In the early 1990s, Berners-Lee, then a scientist at CERN, invented the World Wide Web to meet the demand for simple and immediate information-sharing among physicists working at CERN and different universities or institutes all over the world.

"HyperText is a way to link and access information of various kinds as a web of nodes in which the user can browse at will. It provides a single user-interface to large classes of information (reports, notes, data-bases, computer documentation and on-line help). We propose a simple scheme incorporating servers already available at CERN... A program which provides access to the hypertext world we call a browser... "

Tim Berners-Lee , R. Cailliau. 12 November 1990, CERN In 1992, Lynx was born as an early Internet web browser. Its ability to provide hypertext links within documents that could reach into documents anywhere on the Internet began the creation of the Web on the Internet. After the release of web browsers for both the PC and Macintosh environments, traffic on the World Wide Web quickly exploded from only 500 known web servers in 1993 to over 10,000 in 1994. Thus, all earlier hypertext systems were overshadowed by the success of the Web, even though it originally lacked many features of those earlier systems, such as an easy way to edit what you were reading, typed links, backlinks, transclusion, and source tracking.

Hypertext fiction

Hypertext fiction

Hypertext writing has developed its own style of fiction, coinciding with the growth and proliferation of hypertext development software and the emergence of electronic networks. Two software programs specifically designed for literary hypertext, Storyspace and Intermedia became available in the 1990s.

Storyspace 2.0, a professional level hypertext development tool, is available from Eastgate Systems, which has also published many notable works of electronic literature, including Michael Joyce's afternoon, a story, Shelley Jackson's Patchwork Girl, Stuart Moulthrop's Victory Garden, Bill Bly's "We Descend", Deena Larsen's "Samplers", and Judy Malloy's its name was Penelope, Forward Anywhere. Other works include Julio Cortázar's Rayuela and Milorad Pavić's Dictionary of the Khazars. The first Italian hypertextual novel by Lorenzo Miglioli, "Ra-Dio", was written using Storyspace.

On the other hand, always concerning the Italian production, the hypertext s000t000d by Filippo Rosso (2002), was intended to lead the reader (with the help of a three-dimensional map) in a web page interface, and was written in html and php.

An advantage of writing a narrative using hypertext technology is that the meaning of the story can be conveyed through a sense of spatiality and perspective that is arguably unique to digitally networked environments. An author's creative use of nodes, the self-contained units of meaning in a hypertextual narrative, can play with the reader's orientation and add meaning to the text.

One of the most successful computer games of all time, Myst, was first written in Hypercard. The game was constructed as a series of Ages, each Age consisting of a separate Hypercard stack. The full stack of the game consists of over 2500 cards. In some ways Myst redefined interactive fiction, using puzzles and exploration as a replacement for hypertextual narrative.

Critics of hypertext claim that it inhibits the old, linear, reader experience by creating several different tracks to read on, and that this in turn contributes to a postmodernist fragmentation of worlds. In some cases, hypertext may be detrimental to the development of appealing stories (in the case of hypertext Gamebooks), where ease of linking fragments may lead to non-cohesive or incomprehensible narratives. However, they do see value in its ability to present several different views on the same subject in a simple way. This echoes the arguments of 'medium theorists' like Marshall McLuhan who look at the social and psychological impacts of the media. New media can become so dominant in public culture that they effectively create a "paradigm shift"Template:Sfn as people have shifted their perceptions, understanding of the world and ways of interacting with the world and each other in relation to new technologies and media. So hypertext signifies a change from linear, structured and hierarchical forms of representing and understanding the world into fractured, decentralized and changeable media based on the technological concept of hypertext links.

Forms of hypertext

There are various forms of hypertext, each of which are structured differently. Below are four of the existing forms of hypertext:

axial hypertexts are the most simple in structure. They are situated along an axis in a linear style. These hypertexts have a straight path from beginning to end and are fairly easy for the reader to follow. An example of an axial hypertext is The Virtual Disappearance of Miriam.

arborescent hypertexts are more complex than the axial form. They have a branching structure which resembles a tree. These hypertexts have one beginning but many possible endings. The ending that the reader finishes on depends on their decisions whilst reading the text. This is much like gamebook novels that allow readers to choose their own ending.

networked hypertexts are more complex still than the two previous forms of hypertext. They consist of an interconnected system of nodes with no dominant axis of orientation. Unlike the arborescent form, networked hypertexts do not have any designated beginning or any designated endings. An example of a networked hypertext is Shelley Jackson's Patchwork Girl.

layered hypertext consist of two layers of linked pages. Each layer is doubly linked sequentially and a page in the top layer is doubly linked with a corresponding page in the bottom layer. The top layer contains plain text, the bottom multimedia layer provides photo's, sounds and video. In the Dutch historical novel De man met de hoed designed as layered hypertext in 2006 by Eisjen Schaaf, Pauline van de Ven en Paul Vitányi, the structure is proposed to enhance the atmosphere of the time, to enrich the text with research and family archive material and to enable readers to insert memories of their own while preserving tension and storyline.

See also

Critics and theorists

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Hypertext" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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