Hypertext is text displayed on a computer display or other electronic device with references (hyperlinks) to other text that the reader can immediately access, usually 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. It enables an easy-to-use and flexible connection and sharing of information over the Internet.
The English prefix hyper- comes from the Greek prefix "ὑπερ-" and means "over" or "beyond"; it has a common origin with the prefix "super-" which comes from Latin. It signifies the overcoming of the previous linear constraints of written text. The term "hypertext" is often used where the term "hypermedia" might seem appropriate. In 1992, author Ted Nelson – who coined both terms in 1963 – wrote:
By now the word "hypertext" has become generally accepted for branching and responding text, but the corresponding word "hypermedia", meaning complexes of branching and responding graphics, movies and sound – as well as text – is much less used. Instead they use the strange term "interactive multimedia": this is four syllables longer, and does not express the idea of extending hypertext.— Nelson, Literary Machines, 1992
Types and uses of hypertext 
Hypertext documents can either be static (prepared and stored in advance) or dynamic (continually changing in response to user input, such as dynamic web pages). Static hypertext can be used to cross-reference collections of data in documents, software applications, or books on CDs. A well-constructed system can also incorporate other user-interface conventions, such as menus and command lines. Links used in a hypertext document usually replace the current piece of hypertext with the destination document. A less known and used feature is StretchText, which expands or contracts the content in place giving more control to the reader in determining the level of detail of the displayed document. Hypertext can develop very complex and dynamic systems of linking and cross-referencing. The most famous implementation of hypertext is the World Wide Web, first deployed in 1992.
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. This was a microfiche that stopped where you told it to, but not a punctuation nor a network document standard.
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 (text editing) 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' (meaning editing) interface to the public for the first time, in what has come to be known as "The Mother of All Demos". The word processor had been born.
The first hypermedia application was the Aspen Movie Map in 1977. This allowed users to choose which way they wanted to drive in a virtual cityscape.
In 1980, Tim Berners-Lee created ENQUIRE, an early hypertext database system somewhat like a wiki but without hypertext punctuation, which was not invented until 1987. The early 1980s also saw a number of experimental "hyperediting" functions in word processors and hypermedia programs, many of whose features and terminology were later analogous to the World Wide 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 databases and new media. The first ACM Hypertext (hyperediting and databases) academic conference took place in November 1987, in Chapel Hill NC, where many other applications, including the branched literature writing software Storyspace, were also demonstrated.
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 1990, Tim Berners-Lee, then a scientist at CERN, proposed and later prototyped a new hypertext project in response to a request for a simple, immediate, information-sharing facility, to be used among physicists working at CERN and other academic institutions. He called the project "WorldWideWeb".
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. Potentially, HyperText provides a single user-interface to many large classes of stored information such as reports, notes, data-bases, computer documentation and on-line systems help. We propose the implementation of a simple scheme to incorporate several different servers of machine-stored information already available at CERN, including an analysis of the requirements for information access needs by experiments... A program which provides access to the hypertext world we call a browser. ― T. 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.
As new web browsers were released, traffic on the World Wide Web quickly exploded from only 500 known web servers in 1993 to over 10,000 in 1994. As a result, all previous 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.
- FRESS – a 1970s multi-user successor to the Hypertext Editing System.
- ZOG – a 1970s hypertext system developed at Carnegie Mellon University.
- Electronic Document System – an early 1980s text and graphic editor for interactive hypertexts such as equipment repair manuals and computer-aided instruction.
- Information Presentation Facility – used to display online help in IBM operating systems.
- Intermedia – a mid-1980s program for group web-authoring and information sharing.
- KMS – a 1980s successor to ZOG developed as a commercial product.
- Storyspace – a mid-1980s program for hypertext narrative.
- Texinfo – the GNU help system.
- XML with the XLink extension – a newer hypertext markup language that extends and expands capabilities introduced by HTML.
- Wikis – aim to compensate for the lack of integrated editors in most Web browsers. Various wiki software have slightly different conventions for formatting, usually simpler than HTML.
- Adobe's Portable Document Format – a widely used publication format for electronic documents including links.
- Windows Help
- PaperKiller – a document editor specifically designed for hypertext. Started in 1996 as IPer (educational project for ED-Media 1997).
- Amigaguide – released on the Commodore Amiga Workbench 1990.
Academic conferences 
Among the top academic conferences for new research in hypertext is the annual ACM Conference on Hypertext and Hypermedia. Although not exclusively about hypertext, the World Wide Web series of conferences, organized by IW3C2, include many papers of interest. There is a list on the Web with links to all conferences in the series.
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.
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" 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.
Critics and theorists 
- Tim Berners-Lee
- Jay David Bolter
- Vannevar Bush
- Robert Coover
- J. Yellowlees Douglas
- N. Katherine Hayles
- Michael Joyce
- George Landow
- Lev Manovich
- Stuart Moulthrop
- Ted Nelson
- Paul Otlet
- Pierre Lévy
See also 
- Timeline of hypertext technology
- HTML (HyperText Markup Language)
- "Internet". West's Encyclopedia of American Law (definition) (2 ed.). Free Online Law Dictionary. July 15, 2009. Retrieved November 25, 2008.
- Hypertext and creative writing, The Association for Computing Machinery.
- Joyce, MI, Did Ted Nelson first use the word "hypertext" (sic), meaning fast editing" at Vassar College?, Vassar
- Hawisher, Gail E., Paul LeBlanc, Charles Moran, and Cynthia L. Selfe (1996). Computers and the Teaching of Writing in American Higher Education, 1979–1994: A History Ablex Publishing, Norwood NJ, p. 213
- WorldWideWeb: Proposal for a HyperText Project, The World Wide Web consortium.
- SIGWEB Hypertext Conference, ACM.
- "Conferences", IW3C2.
- Parrish, Jeremy. "When SCUMM Ruled the Earth". 1UP.com. Retrieved 2008-05-02.
- ¿Es el hipertexto una bendición o un…? [Is hypertext a blessing or a…?] (in Castilian), Biblum literaria, Jul 2008.
- The Game of Reading an Electronic Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, CA: U Calgary.
- Green 2001, p. 15.
- Green, Lelia (2001), Technoculture: From Alphabet to Cybersex, Allen & Unwin Ep, ISBN 978‐1‐86508048‐2.
Further reading 
- Barnet, Belinda (2004), Lost In The Archive: Vision, Artefact And Loss In The Evolution of Hypertext (PhD thesis), University of New South Wales.
- Bolter, Jay David (2001). Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. ISBN 0-8058-2919-9.
- Buckland, Michael (2006). Emanuel Goldberg and His Knowledge Machine. Libraries Unlimited. ISBN 0-313-31332-6.
- Byers, T. J. (April 1987). "Built by association". PC World 5: 244–51.
- Cicconi, Sergio (1999). "Hypertextuality". Mediapolis (Berlino & New York: Ed. Sam Inkinen & De Gruyter): 21–43.
- Conklin, J. (1987). "Hypertext: An Introduction and Survey". Computer 20 (9): 17–41. doi:10.1109/MC.1987.1663693.
- Crane, Gregory (1988). "Extending the boundaries of instruction and research". T.H.E. Journal (Technological Horizons in Education) (Macintosh Special Issue): 51–54.
- Engelbart, Douglas C (1962). Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework. AFOSR-3233 Summary Report, SRI Project No. 3579.
- Ensslin, Astrid (2007). Canonizing Hypertext: Explorations and Constructions. London: Continuum. ISBN 0-8264-9558-3.
- Heim, Michael (1987). Electric Language: A Philosophical Study of Word Processing. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-07746-7.
- Landow, George (2006). Hypertext 3.0 Critical Theory and New Media in an Era of Globalization: Critical Theory and New Media in a Global Era (Parallax, Re-Visions of Culture and Society). Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-8257-5.
- Nelson, Theodor H. (September 1965). "Complex information processing: a file structure for the complex, the changing and the indeterminate". ACM/CSC-ER Proceedings of the 1965 20th national conference.
- Nelson, Theodor H. (September 1970). "No More Teachers’ Dirty Looks". Computer Decisions.
- ——— (1973). "A Conceptual framework for man-machine everything". AFIPS Conference Proceedings 42. pp. M22–23.
- Nelson, Theodor H. (1992). Literary Machines 93.1. Sausalito, CA: Mindful Press. ISBN 0-89347-062-7.
- van Dam, Andries (July 1988). "Hypertext: '87 keynote address". Communications of the ACM 31 (7): 887–95. doi:10.1145/48511.48519.
- Yankelovich, Nicole; Landow, George P; Cody, David (1987). "Creating hypermedia materials for English literature students". SIGCUE Outlook 20 (3).
|Look up hypertext in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Hypertext: Behind the Hype, Eric digests.
- Reviving Advanced Hypertext, Use IT (whether and how concepts from hypertext research can be used on the Web).