All Notes on
The Pioneers and 1st Generation Hypertext
2nd Generation Systems, 7 Issues for the Next
Generation Systems, and the Web;
OHS and Microcosm
OHS on the Web: Webcosm
– The Course will be supported by a reading list
– Students should read all the papers; attending the lectures will get you
the inside track from one of the key players
Some key questions you should
ask yourself as you study:
What is hypertext? Nodes and Links with blue stuff to click on?
What application areas has hypertext been applied to?
What is open hypertext, and why did it only really develop in the
Is the World Wide Web open hypertext?
Why has the World Wide Web been such a success?
To what extent has the vision of the original pioneers been
What are the pro's and con's of separating structure from content,
and how does this apply on the web?
What are the best tools for the job? (what job?)
What is the future for hypertext?
What are the outstanding research issues?
The Pioneers: Bush 1
As We May Think. Atlalntic Monthly 1945
“The difficulty seems to be, not so much that we publish unduly in
view of the extent and variety of present-day interests, but rather
that publication has been extended far beyond our present ability
to make real use of the record”
Bush tackled this problem in terms of current
technology - Microfilm and Photocells and
typewriters (and voice recognition?!)
On Microfilm: “Compression is important, however, when it
comes to costs. The material for the microfilm Britannica would
cost a nickel, and it could be mailed anywhere for a cent”
The Pioneers: Bush 2
“The real heart of the matter of selection, however, goes deeper than a lag in
the adoption of mechanisms by libraries, or a lack of development of
devices for their use. Our ineptitude in getting at the record is largely
caused by the artificiality of systems of indexing. When data of any sort
are placed in storage, they are filed alphabetically or numerically, and
information is found (when it is) by tracing it down from subclass to
subclass. It can be in only one place, unless duplicates are used; one has to
have rules as to which path will locate it, and the rules are cumbersome.
Having found one item, moreover, one has to emerge from the system and
re-enter on a new path.
The human mind does not work that way. It operates by association. With one
item in its grasp, it snaps instantly to the next that is suggested by the
association of thoughts, in accordance with some intricate web of trails
carried by the cells of the brain. It has other characteristics, of course;
trails that are not frequently followed are prone to fade, items are not
fully permanent, memory is transitory. Yet the speed of action, the
intricacy of trails, the detail of mental pictures, is awe-inspiring beyond all
else in nature.”
The Pioneers: Bush 3
A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records,
and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be
consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged
intimate supplement to his memory.
It consists of a desk, and while it can presumably be operated from a
distance, it is primarily the piece of furniture at which he works.
On the top are slanting translucent screens, on which material can
be projected for convenient reading. There is a keyboard, and sets
of buttons and levers. Otherwise it looks like an ordinary desk.
In one end is the stored material. The matter of bulk is well taken
care of by improved microfilm. Only a small part of the interior of
the memex is devoted to storage, the rest to mechanism. Yet if the
user inserted 5000 pages of material a day it would take him
hundreds of years to fill the repository, so he can be profligate and
enter material freely.
The Pioneers: Engelbart 1
a new stage of human evolution, characterized
by "automated external symbol manipulation”
augmentation of Man's Intellect
1968 saw the realisation of NLS
– “placing in computer store all of our specifications, plans,
designs, programs, documentation, reports, memos, bibliography
and reference notes, etc., and doing all of our scratch work,
planning, designing, debugging, etc., and a good deal of our
intercommunication, 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
The Pioneers: Engelbart 2
Files in NLS were structured into a hierarchy of
segments called "statements”
Any number of reference links could be established
between statements within and between files
NLS provided viewing filters for the file structure:
– clip the level (depth) of hierarchy displayed
– truncate the number of items displayed at any level
– write customized filters (in a "high-level content analysis
NLS also introduced the concept of multiperson
The Pioneers: Engelbart 3
NLS evolved to NLS/Augment marketed as a commercial
network system by McDonnell-Douglas.
emphasis on creating a consistent environment for
The system included
– many forms of computer-supported communication,
asynchronous (e.g. email with links to all documents,
journaling of ideas and exchanges, bulletin boards)
synchronous (e.g. several terminals sharing the same display,
– facilities for document production and control,
– organisational and project information management (e.g. a
shared calendar subsystem),
– software engineering.
The Pioneers: Nelson 1
PROJECT XANADU MISSION STATEMENT:
WITH INTERCOMPARISON AND RE-USE
Since 1960, we have fought for a world of deep electronic
documents-- with side-by-side intercomparison and frictionless
re-use of copyrighted material.
We have an exact and simple structure. Our model handles
automatic version management and rights management through
Today's popular software simulates paper. The World Wide Web
(another imitation of paper) trivializes our original hypertext
model with one-way ever-breaking links and no management of
version or contents.
WE FIGHT ON.
The Pioneers: Nelson 2
Intercomparison of parallel documents
World-wide anarchic publishing
Links that don't break
Transpublishing-- a new copyright zone
The Pioneers: Nelson 3
two types of connection
– profuse and unbreakable *deep links* to embody the
arbitrary connections that may be made by many
authors throughout the world (content links);
– a system of visible, principled re-use, showing the
origins and context of quotations, excerpts and
anthologized materials, and content transiting
between versions (transclusions).
The Pioneers: Nelson 4
Transclusion is what quotation, copying and cross-referencing
they are ways that people have had to *imitate* transclusion, which
is the true abstract relationship that paper cannot show.
Transclusions are not copies and they are not instances, but *the
same thing knowably and visibly in more than once place*.
While copies and cross-reference are workarounds in place of
transclusion, aliases and caches are *forms* of transclusion.
Not distinguishing between links and transclusions is causing misery
everywhere, for instance in lawsuits against having one's page
brought into someone else's frame (a form of transclusion) which
the lawyers refer to as "linking"-- hopelessly confounding a key
Note also that the famous "trails" of Vannevar Bush's memex
system were to be built from transclusions, not links
1987 - Conklin
In 1987 Conklin produced “A Survey of Hypertext”
This article attempted for the first time to define the
scope of this area of computing.
– The concept of hypertext is quite simple: windows on the
screen are associated with objects in a data base and links are
provided between these objects, both graphically (i.e. as
labelled icons) and in the data base (i.e. as pointers). [....] So
what is all the fuss about? Why are some people willing to
make such extravagant claims about "idea processing" and "a
basis for global scientific literature"?
– there is growing interest in the extension of hypertext to the more
general concept of hypermedia , in which the elements which are
networked together can be text, graphics, digitized speech, audio
recordings, pictures, animation, film clips, and presumably tastes,
odors, and tactile sensations. At this point little has been done to
explore the design and engineering issues of these additional modalities
Conklin 1: Macro Literary
the study of technologies to support large on-
line libraries in which inter-document links are
machine supported – all publishing, reading,
collaboration, and criticism takes place within
– e.g. Memex
– e.g. NLS/Augment
– e.g. Nelson's Xanadu (?)
– Now the Web would fit in this area
Conklin 2: problem exploration
tools to support early unstructured thinking on a
problem, in which many disconnected ideas come
to mind, such as early authoring and outlining
("idea processors"), problem solving, and
programming and design;
– e.g. Goldstein and Bobrow's PIE 1980. Software
Development had contexts and layers
– e.g. Issue Based Information Systems (IBIS (73), g-
IBIS (86)) - had typed links
– e.g. UNC's Writing Environemnet (WE)(86) allows
construction of linear text from network of nodes
Conklin 3: browsing systems
similar to macro literary systems, but smaller
scale – systems for teaching, reference, and
public information, where speed of access and
ease of use is crucial;
– e.g. CMU's ZOG (84) and Knowledge Systems' KMS
(next, back and menu of cross-ref links)
– e.g. Shneiderman's Hyperties (86) Ran under DOS
– e.g. Symbolics Document Examiner (85) A
sophisticated programmable Help System
Conklin 4: general hypertext
general purpose systems designed to allow
experimentation with a range of hypertext applications –
most commonly applied to reading, writing, collaboration
– e.g. Xerox PARC's NoteCards (87) Intended to help information
analysts build conceptual models. Benefited from Xerox Model D
screens and use of Lisp interface for extensibility
– e.g. Brown University's Intermedia (85). A framework with a
collection of tools. Allowed more than one Web of links.
– e.g. Tektronix Neptune (1986) based on HAM. Versioning was a
major feature. Used for CAD.
– e.g. Guide from OWL (1986) Used Apple Mac and Windows 2.0 A
folding editor metaphor
– e.g. Hypercard. (1987) A Stack of Cards metaphor. Appletalk
object and event based programming language.
Conklin: The Essence of
– The power to chunk information
– importance of speed of link resolution
– How many ends?
– End as region or node?
– Reference by name or by value
– display characteristics?
Conklin: The Essence of
Trees (strict hierarchies) or networks of links
Clusters of Links (webs/linkbases?)
Clusters of Nodes (Composites)
Authoring and Annotating!
Browsers (meaning node level)
Conklin: disadvantages of
disorientation: the tendency to lose one's sense
of location and direction in a non-linear
document; “Lost in Hyperspace”
cognitive overhead: the additional effort and
concentration necessary to maintain several
tasks or trails at one time.