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Just Memex?[edit]

It is very noticable that this article is much more about MEMEX than about hyperlinks? Can someone add stuff on hypertexts themselves? Bit strange having html as a "see also"? --(talk to)BozMo 10:31, 23 May 2004 (UTC)

Most of what is here really should become a separate article about Memex since Memex is much more than an early form of electromechanical-microfilm hypertext concept. And there should also be a separate article on hypertext where there would only be a few lines and a link to the Memex article, within a history of the conceptual ancestors of "real" hypertext. But I am not going to write it since my domain of knowledge is the Office of the future (and how it was viewed in the past), and I am afraid I would goof up an hypertext article. AlainV 02:31, 2004 May 24 (UTC)

Definition is historically inaccurate[edit]

While it may be true in today's common usage to say that "a hypertext system is one for displaying information that contains references (called hyperlinks) to other information on the system," this is certainly not true historically. This, instead, is the limited sense of "hypertext" popularized by applications such as HyperCard, Storyspace, and the World Wide Web -- media organized as relatively-discrete nodes connected by (perhaps dynamic) links.

This definition was not that employed either at the term's coinage (by Theodor Holm Nelson) or by early pioneers of hypertext systems (such as Douglas Engelbart). Nelson defined hypertext as a subset of "hypermedia" (media that "branch or perform on request") and gave both link-based ("discrete hypertext") and level of detail-based ("stretchtext") examples. (The term was defined in 1965, in "A File Structure for the Complex, the Changing, and the Indeterminate." The examples were given in 1970, in "No More Teachers' Dirty Looks.") Engelbart used the term "hypertext" to refer to all the new document capabilities enabled by the fine-grained addressing of his oN-Line System (NLS). These included linking, but also dynamically-created views at mixed levels of detail, other new modes of navigation, and so on. (See, for example, Engelbart's "mother of all demos" in 1968.)

For more on the Nelson part of this history, see my short paper on the subject: What Hypertext Is (ACM Hypertext 2004).

Words tend to shift in meaning; the primary task of Wikipedia is to document how they are used today. Rp (talk) 12:49, 30 March 2009 (UTC)
Branch on request would be like a "dungon". There have been various ideas in "spaces" such as the aspen project or mictofilm that stopped where you asked --even papaers with footnotes. In a sense the card catalogue was a 'link', as was a string left in a book to mark your place but there was no document standard. The standard came when I proposed the function of a clickable word be added to the existing technologies of word processing. This ment that documents had a new punctuation (the "blue or underlined" word which opened another document (page or pages which was of unspecifyied length so one could simply scroll). The networked document standard was then implimented with http.

Relationship to HTTP noteworthy[edit]

It seems odd to me that the HyperText Transport Protocol is not mentioned in the article. I feel that a protocol designed to facilitate networked hypertext systems would be worthy of at least a link. Anyone disagree? - mjb 22:00, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I'm afraid I do. HTTP is used by browsers, but really doesn't have anything to do with hypertext as a concept. HTML documents are just as happy on a hard disk and can just as easily be held on an FTP server. None of these makes any difference to the hypertext aspect of the documents - that's all handled by HTML. --KayEss 07:33, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)
The browser is a bastardized version of the the concept in which the exitor does not edit but only views documents. This presumably because they want to sell editors seperatly or simply do not want people editing.

obviously there owuld need to be passwords or some kind of identy verification depending on which page you were editing.

Tim Sheridan — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:15, 24 October 2012 (UTC)

MediaWiki vs. Wikimedia[edit]

The article mentions Wikimedia (the foundation). In this context, shouldn't that be MediaWiki (the software) instead? --Steven Fisher 06:36, 7 Mar 2005 (UTC)


I'd like to propose that we archive this entire section. This is an old debate. The consensus in favor of Guide has been firmly established for some years. Some of the opinions expressed here are intemperate, a number of assertions are simply wrong, and the 2005 debate wandered into issues that now seem clearly irrelevant or plainly original research. MarkBernstein (talk) 16:35, 24 October 2012 (UTC)

``Guide was the first hypertext system for personal computers, but was not very successful.``

What is meant by "successful" in the above quote? You see "the first hypertext system for personal computers" is in effect equivalent to the Memex for personal use as dreamed by the visionary Vannevar Bush in 1945. Arguably, his dream had come true through Guide forty years later at last! So granted, it ought to be mentioned at least WHO on earth developed that damn stuff. You know what I mean, I hope. --KYPark 15:50, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Clickable text editor would have been very clever but I never bothered to build one because being contained on a single computor completely obfuscates the purpose. While a prototype for a stand alone computor would have been no problem for me to build it would only have fufilled a part of it's function to peacefully unite the world with liquid information in a common shared standard. I chose to request others build and test the device on existing networks.
Hyper text was in fact named in reference to the HyperCard program which was ther state of the art at the time but was not a document standard (only a database) and did not have links to other documents outside it's program. I invented and named "Hyper-text" as a network document standard. -- Tim Sheridan
The claim above is incorrect. The term "Hypertext: derives from Ted Nelson's papers in the 1960s. Early hypertext systems were built by Nelson, Shneiderman & Borning, Halasz & Trigg, van Dam et alia, Jan Walker, Peter Brown, and Doug Engelbart among others. All the above predate HyperCard. Tim Sheridan repeats his claim for priority here, but I don't recall seeing him at the first ACM Hypertext Conference in 1987, where I did see all the above. MarkBernstein (talk) 16:35, 24 October 2012 (UTC)
Well, Guide was a total joke---have you actually read about its gruesome technical details or seen what it looked like? There are lots of screenshots in old books on hypertext in university libraries. Plus OWL's policy of charging several hundred dollars per copy of Guide was an abysmally stupid idea. Apple had the right approach by bundling HyperCard (or at least, HyperCard Viewer) with all new Macintoshes.
Also, KYPark, your understanding of the Memex is clearly quite crude and immature. You might want to read the authoritative book on the Memex: James M. Nyce and Paul Kahn (eds.) From Memex to Hypertext: Vannevar Bush and the Mind's Machine (Academic Press, 1991). --Coolcaesar 19:22, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
  • Was Guide a total joke? [my title]

Last year, OWL [...] startled the hypertext community by creating a program that contained neither data nor hypertext links, but only an empty screen and the tools to create a hypertext environment. In bringing out Guide, it was as if OWL had published a book with a blank pages and thoughtfully included a pen.

Where established hypertext producers [...] supply both data and links, OWL decided to approach the other way around. Guide provides no set text to work from; data are user-supplied, as are the hypertext links. Using Guide is as close as you're likely to get to do-it-yourself hypertext.

Suppose you are writing with Guide's word processor and want to add a comment [hidden from] the text itself. Using [...] a "button," you key onto a word in the text to create a hypertext link to a blank screen; you write the comment there. When you finish the note, you return to the main screen and proceed with the next.

Suppose further that after storing the completed text to disk in Guide format, you start another, unrelated document. If If you decide [...] to establish a relationship between the two documents, you can create a hypertext link usig the tools provided in Guide. That link will give full access to both documents -- from either file.

While it certainly isn't hypermedia, neither is Guide limited to mere text, Charts, drawings, and even photos can be inserted into Guide files [...].

Among the many applications offered by Guide are outline processing, word processing, desktop publishing, free-form data bases, and educational training aids. The program's graphics capabilities even enable the user to create slide shows on screen, with pictures that take their cue from path established in the hypertext environment. The user may wander at will among the various screens, keying onto topics [...] of interest, bypassing those that are not.

While Guide incorporates many of the functions of the earlier large-scale hypertext systems, it is geared more toward the individual [...]. It could turn out to be a single-user version of Xanadu. -- TJB [my boldface]

-- Guide: Do-It-Yourself Hypertext? [a special column singly highlighted in:] T. J. Byers, Built by Association, PC World, April 1987 (Special Report: CD ROM Goes to Work), 5(4), 244-251. [This surprising article is one of References of Hypertext. --KYPark 08:10, 26 Apr 2005 (UTC)

  • OWL Crying in the Darkness! [my title]

[Panasonic OWL] developed "Guide", the world's first hypertext authoring system (predating the Web). [...].

It wasn't the first, but I remember when it came out, and they were making that claim back then, too, and never backed down from it. Here's a history that includes Owl (but not as the first): [broken]

Owl is credited in Tim Berners-Lee's book, "Weaving the Web". Tim approached them about modifying Guide to support the internet work he was thinking of, but it seems no-one there was interested. [my boldface]

-- --KYPark 08:10, 26 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Actually, the company was known as Office Workstations Limited before the European part became Panasonic OWL and the American part became InfoAccess (which was taken over by Stellent during the dot-com collapse). Also, Guide was initially created by Peter Brown, an academic, and then licensed by his university to OWL. I have his original paper about the original version of Guide lying around here somewhere. And yes, I have seen those fascinating issues of PC World from 1987 on microfilm.

It's important to look at the big picture and try to avoid writing Whiggish history. If you don't know why "Whiggish" is a bad word among historians (it's actually almost an insult when one accuses another of writing in that style), you have a lot of reading to do.

Getting back to my point, the fact that Guide did have some revolutionary features for its time (in the sense that OWL was the first to implement those features on the PC) still doesn't change the fact that it was always a niche product (in comparison to the mainstream apps of the mid-1980s like WordPerfect and Ventura Publisher). Of course, so was HyperCard, initially --- although HyperCard at least got a lot more attention and mindshare.

When you're researching computer history, it's important to look at not only the articles surrounding the release of a new product (which are often full of hype and lack the perspective that comes only with experience), but also the articles 3 or 5 or 7 years later to see whether the product flourished or died in the market. Try looking at articles on Guide from 1990 or 1992 or 1994 and see where Guide was then (I have). By 1993 it was just another high-end expensive electronic publishing product being paraded around at trade shows along with 10 other major competitors (along with Folio Views and eBT), while HyperCard had won the hearts of the PC masses.

--Coolcaesar 23:28, 26 Apr 2005 (UTC)

  • More about Peter Brown

Prof. Peter Brown (retired a few years ago) worked at the University of Kent, England, together with his wife Prof. Heather Brown, expert in the Office Document Architecture (ODA), de facto European standard competing with the American SGML. Berners-Lee may have been swinging between ODA and SGML. At least he knew much about the couple, including their interests.

That is to say, anyway, it seems (to me at least) that the history of hypertext used to be described overwhelmingly along the American paradigm. Simply this may be unfair if not untrue, mere "local effect," and violate NPOV! There may be another hidden European, especially British, paradigm or thread as well. A radical American conservatism or nationalism appears overriding and shadowing the hypertext landscape in reality.

Note that in the beginning few mentioned Herbert Wells, and now some mention even Paul Otlet, both still rather negatively, while the contemporary Vannevar Bush always positively. All were dreamers whose influence defies an easy objective evaluation. The truth is yet to come. Doug Engelbart and Ted Nelson may have been affected by Otlet and Wells much more than Bush, though no reference was made to them. Furthermore, we may better start from James Joyce and T. S. Eliot in the 1920s to know well why hypertext. Be advised that I am working hard preparing myself to show it up. Perhaps I would start like this:

``From the early 20th century, the idea of hypertext was eloquently and repeatedly motivated by "selection" of the right information from the messy mass publication rather than by publication to add up to such a mass...``

Let me make it simple and ask you why it is so hesitating to add some of the essential 6W's in describing history properly. The short passage I quoted in the beginning was below the minimum essential, I fear. Such a passage missing some 6W's is likely quite misleading as well as incomplete in itself, to be sure. To know Guide was one year earlier than HyperCard free of charge is to know it would be hard to compete after all even at a reasonable price. Such is exactly the case between Navigator and Internet Explorer. The strong eat the weak. This is the market! So I am so sorry though a copyleftist loving freewares and Richard Stallman. I love to see ideas rather than prices compete fair so that the weak but creative can survive.

In response to my suggestion to do Guide some 6W kinda favor, you have made it a little longer but done it more harm, I fear again. --KYPark 16:27, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I have no idea where you are going with your rambling and ungrammatical English. What do you mean by "6W's?" If you're talking about who, where, when, what, etc., you really need to do some reading about basic historiography---which is so much more than that.

Anyway, I do know about ODA, and the short-lived HyperODA project. I also know why ODA failed---because it was based on ASN.1. And yes, I do have multiple sources on file discussing ASN.1's failings in detail, including the NSF study from 1991 or 1992. There was also a project that attempted to implement ODA on top of SGML but that went nowhere.

The fact is, whether you like it or not, Engelbart and Nelson were not influenced by Otlet because they did not know about him. Engelbart has never mentioned Wells, though in his important 1962 paper he was careful to cite both Whorf and Bush. I think Nelson may have mentioned Wells somewhere in those rambling pigpens of paper he calls "books", but I'm not sure.

As for Bush, I vaguely recall that there has been a lot of speculation in the academic journals about whether Bush knew of Otlet's work, but no one has turned up any solid proof. A lot of people have pointed out, though, including Bush's biographer, G. Pascal Zachary, that Bush was an engineer by training. He despised the humanities and never talked to librarians (even though they could have helped him refine his ideas about the memex), so it is unlikely he would have gotten along with a lawyer-turned-proto-information-scientist like Otlet.

If you're trying to get at whether there was an alternate non-American hypertext research project (apart from the Web, of course, which soon became an American project when Berners-Lee moved to the U.S.), there's always videotex. If you look at some of the academic studies of videotex from the early 1980s, they encountered many of the problems in content structure that were later encountered in the mid-1990s by early Web site developers. The link maps often used by Web site developers to organize Web sites in development actually originated back then with the early videotex systems.

--Coolcaesar 18:30, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)

  • Wells and Otlet

Redikillus! Don't bother where I am going with my rambling and ungrammatical English. Simply regard 6W as a symbol of my invention if not convention, and as a matter of vocabulary rather than grammar. And please let me know how to say something better than I said disgusting you. But you don't have to discourage me from telling the hidden truth to undermine and deconstruct the local effect or alleged "Legacy" From Memex to Hypertext that you suggested to me at first.

Coolcaesar, you are too honest to deny that you are too patriotic to affirm neutrally what foreigners have done so well, I guess. So you look so jealous. I have no idea either where you are going with your rambling and unreasonable chauvinistic nationalism plus exclusivism comparable with Nazism. It was when the frantic Nazism was at its height that H. G. Wells proposed the ideas of World Encyclopedia and World Brain as a solution to the World Problem for the World Peace. He was struggling against evil nationalism and professionalism.

You would know that Wells has been well known all over the world, and far more influential than Otlet especially in the Anglo-American scene. But you might not know that both communicated with each other! So whose idea is original is rather obscure. Then the next question worthy of asking would be whether Bush, Engelbart, Nelson, and Berners-Lee, for example, were influenced by Wells regardless of Otlet in relation to the Web and hypertext. Obviously, you as well as all of them are not well prepared so far to answer this question.

Nevertheless, suppose they were unaware of the ideas of World Brain and World Encyclopedia based on the "world-wide network" as his ambitious and eloquent solution to the "World Problems" for the "World Peace." Then they suffer too painful lack of the right information for a well-done claim. On the other hand, suppose they were aware of it. Then they appear to suffer so deplorable lack of scientist and scholarly morality that they may well be suspected of intellectual piracy. The similarity and disparity between his (as well as Otlet's) and their ideas will turn out sooner or later.

Meanwhile, a striking parallelity may be noteworthy in terms of well-known British/less-known Belgian, between Wells/Otlet and Berners-Lee/Cailliau, known as the co-inventors of the World Wide Web, which looks like rewording of "world-wide network" as coined by Wells. Rewording is rewarding more often than not!

Let me tell you one more thing. As far as I know, Michael Lesk was the first computer/information scientist who accepted Wells as one of the pioneers in the Web and hypertext development, and W. B. Rayward was the first library/information scientist who claimed both Otlet and Wells as such. Coincidentally Lesk (American) and Rayward (Australian) stayed at University College London as a visiting professor. --KYPark 17:19, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I have no idea where you are going with this. Your incoherent reasoning is full of fallacies, speculation, and non sequiturs. For example, "rewording is rewarding" is the kind of childish inference that has been unfashionable ever since most intellectuals came to accept the general axiom that correlation does not equal causation. Correlation may support a "hunch" that starts a separate investigation into causation, but causation must always be separately proved. You have no understanding of even the essentials of logic.

To restate the point more bluntly, you are making the kind of bizarre inferences which are characteristic of the ramblings of schizophrenics (and yes, I have read extensively about them). I strongly advise you to seek medical assistance immediately. --Coolcaesar 17:57, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

  • Offensive words as a symptom or evidence of a radical

``I have no idea where you are going with this. Your incoherent reasoning is full of fallacies, speculation, and non sequiturs ... childish inference ... no understanding of even the essentials of logic ... bizarre inferences ... ramblings of schizophrenics ... I strongly advise you to seek medical assistance immediately.`` [AZ]

I should say, "AFTER YOU!"

I really mean it now beyond reasonable doubt. From the very beginning I have dared to guess or infer from your words that you are highly symptomatic of radical American nationalsim plus exclusivism such that you are too radical for NPOV! As you neither deny nor affirm it, it appears evident now that this should be the place for you AFTER YOU "seek medical assistance" as borrowed from your words. I believe that this should not remain the place for evil nationalist and professionalist brainwashing propaganda but neutral brainstorming discussion.

Instead of either denying or affirming proudly that you are such a radical, you have ridiculously offended me again and again. Yet it would be not too late for you to clear or give it up rather than shy away. I wish you to be a man of courage or virtus in ancient Greek.

You confuse designative or descriptive reference to something with argumentative or prescriptive inference from something. In contrast to right or wrong prescriptive inference, descriptive reference is either true or false such that the World Wide Web looks like rewording of "world-wide network," and that rewording is rewarding more often than not. And these references were suggested as likelihood rather than certainty. It is not a fallacy that "rewarding is rewarding." It describes or refers to a common reality of plagiarism where rewording is cause and rewarding is effect.

Meanwhile, I offered little inference of my own, though some may be implied between the lines in context. Nevertheless it is evil of you to blame me for "incoherent reasoning...full of fallacies, speculation, and non sequiturs." For I am not really responsible for such implications that you may unlimitedly infer (deduce/induce/abduce) at will from my explicit references. You could blame me if my references were false. Instead, however, you argue wrong as if I explicitly dictated a lot of wrong inference, most likely because my references clash with your radical black and white mindset, don't you?

This encyclopedia as well as the underlying World Wide Web, based on extensible nature of hypertext, is destined to contribute to global beyond local utilitarianism on the one hand, and to user-centrism on the other. In retropect there have been two mainstreams of hypertext development, namely, open integral utilitarianism and secret fragmentary commercialism which have been inherited to date. The former may be traced back to H. G. Wells and Vannevar Bush and roughly marked by the earlier stage of development, while the latter traced back to Douglas Engelbart and Ted Nelson and so marked by the later stage. Then the open, integral, non-commerical, user-centric, utilitarian WWW emerged overshadowing fragmentary commercialism.

That is to say, short-sighted, narrow-minded, commercial, dull and lazy men came in late (See: Hypertext '87 keynote address) to make it their own creativity and profession under the banner of hypertext that sounds a misnomer (See: Text retrieval section below). You are supposed to be one of them. See "the big picture" as borrowed from your words, that is, what hypertext is all about!

Anyway, it is up to Wikipedia readers all around the world, to judge which one is the loser of this game symptomatic of KO, while the other the winner of OK, though it is almost self-evident from our past experiences as well as this very context. --KYPark 16:12, 2 May 2005 (UTC)

Since you seem to be looking for a denial, I'll come right out and explicitly deny any pro-American bias as a historian. I do not see where you are going with your bizarre accusations that I am radical — I am a moderate both in politics and as a historian. Like most historians, I try to focus on the evidence.
It is a matter of fact, not personal bias, that the first people to actually develop working hypertext system were Americans. They were Douglas Engelbart (with NLS in 1966) and Ted Nelson (with HES in the winter and spring of 1969). Indeed, Nelson coined the term "hypertext" and publicized it.
I also do not see where you are going with your odd accusations of bias which make no sense in light of the overwhelming historical evidence that hypertext has always been a primarily American phenomenon. My suspicion is that you have a personal bias against the fact that only Americans had the appropriate educational, technological, philosophical, and economic foundation in the 1960s to make hypertext possible (as with many other technologies like the personal computer, the photocopier, and the Post-It). Even if videotex could be construed as a rather crude form of hypertext, videotex was not operational until about 1972.
Wells, Otlet, and Bush developed only certain underlying theoretical concepts, and perhaps engaged in some experiments (Otlet and Bush in particular), but failed to actually complete a full working system (in the sense of a working mechanical machine).
Frankly, I do not see why you are trying to structure the history of hypertext around some kind of grand dichotomy between utilitarianism and commercialism — an inference that is again unsupported by the evidence. Even if Wells and Bush were motivated by some degree of utilitarianism (I suppose one could draw a weak inference that they were reasoning from that philosophy from their writings), one can also argue that Nelson and Engelbart were motivated by utilitarianism as well. But Nelson and Engelbart were pragmatists who sought to act within the existing capitalist economic framework to make their visions come true, rather then simply proposing vague ideas and leaving the details to others.
Also, your theory that the Web seems to be the reassertion of some kind of utilitarian, non-commercial vision of hypertext is rather weak, considering that much of the success of the Web relative to previous versions of hypertext was the direct result of its ability to attract enormous amounts of venture capital (unlike Xanadu). I doubt that Netscape or Yahoo or Google or the whole dot-com mess would have happened without the venture capitalists that backed those private companies. Even today, the nonprofits that provide useful educational services on the Web (like Wikipedia and the Internet Archive) are directly dependent on the for-profit structure of the Internet (nearly all ISPs as well as makers of carrier-level Internet software and hardware are for-profit corporations). Most great free services on the Web, like blog hosts and interactive maps, are provided by for-profit corporations with the commercial motive of selling advertising or with the intent to use such services as loss leaders to build brand awareness.
Your theory is weakly true, I suppose, only in the sense that most Web standards (and Internet standards) are open and nonproprietary and mostly "shared" among all the for-profit and non-profit actors, while NLS, Xanadu, and HyperCard were proprietary technologies. But I don't see anything in Wells' and Bush's and Otlet's writings that speaks to that issue, because the development of standardization hadn't happened yet. Furthermore, the development of Web and Internet standards is largely subsidized by for-profit corporations, who pay the salaries of the "volunteers" that keep W3C and IETF running. --Coolcaesar 06:38, 4 May 2005 (UTC)
  • Is Wikipedia utilitarian or commercial?

Please answer the above question in a word. I cordially ask:

  1. The Wikipedian authority concerned.
  2. Coolcaesar and anyone out there.

Wikipedia is a great surprise or mutation that has sprung from the largest market where extreme commercialism and capitalism were dominating, where they definitely deferred something utilitarian like the French CNRS and the Russian VINITI, and preferred fragmentary for-profit information analysis centers that sooner or later failed in making profit enough for survival. Refer to the Roman Pucinski's proposal for a National Research Data Processing and Information Retrieval Center, the Arthur D. Little's counter-proposal, "Do not support large-scale centralization of mechanized document retrieval facilities...", and the Mansfield Amendment of 1973 that seriously affected Engelbart.

The utilitarian World Wide Web originated from the EU, allegedly if not practically independent from the US, and decisively conquered most of the fragmentary hypertext territory. It meant a completely new orientation and motivation for the next hypertext applications. Other utilitarian ones have evolved from the Web, including Google, CiteSeer, and Wikipedia. The impact appears to be much more devastating than the Sputnik in which case such apologism that space science and technology had been "a primarily American phenomenon" must not have been terribly convincing.

Hypertext looks like something better than nothing until the advent of CD-ROM, which was soon followed by the user-centric Guide and then HyperCard. Where there is digital text, there is hypertext however primitive. There is little surprise indeed. --KYPark 17:38, 5 May 2005 (UTC)


Again, your odd analysis is unconvincing, because your grasp on the basic facts is so poor. Many for-profit information services were already thriving by 1989, including Westlaw and LexisNexis. Also, even in 1989, American consumers were already being bombarded with advertisements for America Online and CompuServe. Plus there were the videotex experiments of the early 1980s like Viewtron.

CERN is located in Switzerland, which is not part of the European Union. Although it's true that CERN was the birthplace of the Web and the first Web design firm and Web directory were started by CERN employees, most of the other subsequent "firsts" occurred in the U.S., including the first newspaper to regularly publish to the Web (the Palo Alto Weekly), and the first college with a Web site (Honolulu Community College).

Also, by grouping Google with two nonprofit operations, Citeseer and Wikipedia, you seem to have forgotten that Google is a commercial, public for-profit corporation that just launched its IPO last year. Although its founders claim to be guided by the rule "Don't do evil," they are ultimately bound to act in the best interest of the shareholders like the officers of any other corporation.

At this point, I think I am inclined to give up this debate for now, because it is clear we cannot agree on any salient points. While I have enjoyed debating the history of hypertext with you, I do not think we will be reaching any agreement in the near future, and there are other areas of Wikipedia which I would prefer to focus on at this time. Perhaps when some other third party joins this debate then I will jump back in. --Coolcaesar 07:52, 6 May 2005 (UTC)

  • For-profit information services

I did not pretend a bird's-eye view on American information services, but simply focus on the fact that the American scientific information policy after the Sputnik shock preferred for-profit decentralization marked by information analysis centers to non-profit centralization. Westlaw and LexisNexis are out of scientific context. America Online and CompuServe are Internet Service Providers rather than information services proper, not to mention information analysis centers.

On the other hand, the Internet or the earlier is a non-profit centralization and outcome from that shock. Originally, however, it was designed as information infrastructure only for advanced research. For many years at first, it was mostly used for e-mails. Then the Gopher emerged as a true information service only to be overshadowed upon advent of the Web, which in addition soon drove the Internet open to the public. The Web based on hypertext has undermined and determined even the fate of the underlying Internet up to utilitarianism.

The primary feature of the Web in origin was as simple as to click on the reference number (or the keyword) in context to retrieve the so-referenced document on screen. Many people had spoken of hypertext, but few had thought of the vitality of reference numbers and nearby keywords in context as "associative trails" everywhere in sientific literature. --KYPark 17:45, 9 May 2005 (UTC)

  • Whose credit, CERN or Sir Berners-Lee?

Coolcaesar, you did tell the truth that "CERN is located in Switzerland, which is not part of the European Union." Nevertheless, while I was so careless in mistaking, you look so careful in misleading or suggesting as if CERN located in Switzerland were owned or run by her rather than by a number of European member countries, most of which are also the EU member countries.

You know the idea and creation of the Web used to be credited to one man, Sir Berners-Lee, rather than the CERN teamwork, though rather unusually. Then, my passage "The utilitarian World Wide Web originated from the EU..." is not too bad.

While the status and role of CERN is tricky anyway, what exactly do you mean by that hypersensitive passage otherwise than to try to upset the overall credibility of my words using my marginal mistakes? You are supposed to be so cunning and misleading, showing up your evil Machiavellism. --KYPark 17:24, 10 May 2005 (UTC)

Text retrieval[edit]

Text retrieval (TR) is simply cross-reference (XR) from text to text, hence hypertext (XT). That is, the ideas of TR, XR, XT, and the like largely overlap and closely resemble one another. XR splits into XR in context (XRIC) and XR out of context (XROC) in close analogy to KWIC and KWOC long ago, respectively. The narrow or common sense of hypertext implies XRIC, while the wide or true sense includes XROC as well. From the text retrieval point of view, hypertext as a new retrieval paradigm, objecting to XROC or subjecting itself mainly to XRIC, sounds like a self-defeating misnomer, because text retrieval and cross-reference well comprise both XROC and XRIC in themselves. Hypertext was coined in 1965 by Ted Nelson who used to object to the wide spectrum of text retrieval or cross-reference and subject it mainly to the narrow idea of transclusion, or simply quotation, aiming for text patchwork rather than retrieval. --KYPark 16:12, 2 May 2005 (UTC)

Now you really just went off the deep end. Those terms you are proposing --- XROC and XRIC --- are not in wide use anywhere (I just ran a Google search). Even granting that you are trying to define two new terms for the purpose of streamlining a discussion, your English is so hopelessly incoherent that I am not sure what you are trying to define them as. You really need to take a remedial English class. --Coolcaesar 06:04, 4 May 2005 (UTC)

I am created as equal as Ted Nelson (as well as C. S. Peirce) who used to dictate notoriously his own terminological invention beyond well-established convention, including hypertext, transclusion, docuverse, literary machine, and so on. Words are not given by God but invented by man one after another to add up to the millenia old convention. The English vocabulary is supposed to count 800 thousand -- a redundancy (from the Basic English perspective) of almost a hundred times the Basic English! So in principle I object to invention of new words as well as use of unusual ones.

Simply I split cross-reference (XR) as the key to text retrieval into XRIC and XROC with respect to context, triggered internally or externally, on the fly or behind the curtain, if you like. I may be the first to note such a dichotomy of text retrieval including hypertext. XRIC and XROC are mere shorthands so that you need not take them seriously but the ideas and perhaps words for which they stand as extension or refinement of KWIC and KWOC confined within document titles. Cross-references or hyperlinks do not necessarily fall on keywords but also on reference numbers and icons, for example. Thus the classic but crude ideas of KWIC and KWOC need to be extended or refined so as to be general enough. --KYPark 17:47, 5 May 2005 (UTC)

Virtual hypertext[edit]

Hypermedia Joyce Studies[edit]

  • Notes on Contributors [1]
  • Donald F. Theall, Joyce's Practice of Intertextuality: the Anticipation of Hypermedia and its Implications for Textual Analysis of Finnegans Wake [2]

--KYPark 19:29, 17 July 2005 (UTC)

Value of ON content and quality of reference[edit]

The content added from the ON reference remains in this article, but the reference has been removed. This action is disputed and a conversation is ongoing here. Uriah923 06:32, 2 September 2005 (UTC)


No Mention of BT's failed attempt to claim a prior patent on hyperlinks.

We can to diferenciating betwen hypertex(literature) and hypertex, becauste is diferent. -- 15:20, 13 June 2006 (UTC)

If you mean hypertext as literature and hypertext as technology, you are right that they are different concepts, but I see no point in creating a new article because they are tightly interrelated. --Coolcaesar 23:28, 13 June 2006 (UTC)

Suggestion: Give TabTalk its own page and tighten Hypertext page[edit]

The recent TabTalk addition is interesting and seems worth citing. But I think it would be better if moved to a separate TabTalk page to receive the current multi-paragraph description, along with a link in addition to the patent reference to support "No original research" criteria.

Then collapse the multi-paragraph TabTalk discussion to a sentence interleaved with the other synopsis of notable hypertext systems. Grlloyd 11:19, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

I just reviewed the relevant patent. TabTalk appears to be more of an advanced OS shell with partial hypertext features. But not very impressive; ZOG was doing the same thing and a whole lot more back in 1977. I am personally familiar with most of the technical literature on hypertext going back to the 60s and TabTalk was never mentioned at all. I don't think it's even worth wasting space on here.--Coolcaesar 04:52, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
I agree that it is not very impressive wrt other systems, and deserves at most a brief mention and footnote on hypertext page. But rather than delete the TabTalk addition, I think it's worth saving, particulary since it's not other cited in the literature that you or I are aware of, and has credible evidence of relevant commerial intent. The Hypertext article seems to be evolving a nice little history of the vision, technology evolution, and early attempts to disseminate hypertext technology vs. commerical products. We know the Web won; I think it's good to provide supporting detail if it rises above the "two students wrote a hypertext like system as a programming project in 1982 but no-one every used it or heard of it again". The patent, commercial intent and some evidence of acceptance in NASA (which was also the first user of HES) make me believe a TabTalk article is worthwhile. Having also found the patent and some supporting history ( circa 1995), I think it's worth the space Grlloyd 11:33, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
Well, the fact that it is not impressive (as you just conceded) means it is not worth mentioning here when there are so many other worthy systems that should be discussed here in more detail like Baylor's Virtual Notebook System (the one that pioneered the use of the term "page" among many other innovations). This is not the place for first publication of any synthesis or argument for the historical importance of TabTalk; that would be in violation of Wikipedia:No original research, a core Wikipedia policy. Under WP:NOR, TabTalk needs to be recognized somewhere else as important before it can be discussed here. Wikipedia only paraphrases and objectively reports on original research done elsewhere; it cannot be a first publisher of such research. See also Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not, which includes the famous section on "Wikipedia is not a soapbox." --Coolcaesar 22:03, 18 November 2006 (UTC)


I just cleaned the article up quite a bit, putting the information under appropriate headings and in a more readable, prose-like form. I tried not to lose or change information, however, I would not be surprised if this did happen during the process. Feel free to adjust this as necessary. My biggest problem was coming up with an easily-understandable, concise definition of the title term in the intro. Wrad 23:57, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Well, Wrad, judging from what happenend over the past week, it looks like Jstanley and then your own well-intentioned edits have created a vague, ambiguous, incomprehensible, and inaccurate mess which is actually much worse than what was there before. The longstanding definition, which I drafted back in 2004, looked like this: [3] Over time, various people kept fooling around with it and it got worse and worse until Jstanley really screwed it up on 12 April (I think he is a nonnative English speaker).

Anyway, to be specific, Wrad, about the issues I have with the current version:

  • What is "computer text"? Is it a textbook about how to use a computer? Text edited by a computer? Text written by a computer? (Think AI.) No one uses that phrase in the way you're using it, which means you would have to define it, and nesting definitions within definitions would contradict your goal of creating "an easily-understandable, concise definition of the title term."
  • What is "computer user interface innovation?" Shouldn't the correct syntax be "recent innovation in computer user interface design?"
  • There is confusion over the use of the definite article the and the indefinite article a/an in the fourth sentence. The sentence also uses "that" where most English writers would put "which."
  • The fifth sentence is completely incomprehensible. What hypertext documents don't contain hyperlinks? Wouldn't that be a conventional document then? Also, the subject and object are completely mixed up.
  • The sixth sentence is an incomprehensible mishmash of sentence fragments.

I think we should go back to my old definition. What do other people think?--Coolcaesar 06:46, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

I can see your point with #1, and as I said this particular sentence worried me. I would appreciate your help. The fifth sentence, though is actually pretty much exactly the same as before, we can't really "go back" on it. Other than that, the problems you mention are rather small punctuation and grammar problems, easily fixed. I think that your reading of the paragraph is a bit over-negative here. The fact is, it was pretty bad before. I don't think going back is the answer. This article has had a cleanup tag on it for about 5 months. Somebody needed to clean it up.

The problem with the old version was that it was broken up into four or five different paragraphs. It was also full of jargon and a bit wordy, I thought. I know what hypertext is, and I couldn't understand the old definition. Imagine what someone who didn't know would have thought on reading it.

Also, could you please watch your tone when proofreading? I don't think your naming names is appropriate, especially as your argument for their edits being "a vague, ambiguous, incomprehensible, and inaccurate mess which is actually much worse than what was there before" is extremely debatable given the sad state the article was in before their changes. Wrad 13:05, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

I made some adjustments as per your suggestions. I believe it is much better now.Wrad 14:23, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

I've got a question. The reference style in this article seems pretty varied. It starts with a parenthetical style in the intro, then moves to web links (which I changed to refs for the time being. No other parenthetical in-line citation exist in the article, but there is a nice list of references at the bottom. How can we make this more uniform? Wrad 21:40, 18 April 2007 (UTC)

Another problem: the "Invention of Hypertext" and "Applications" sections are really jumbled, even after some attempts to make them more chronological. Can anyone take a look at these and make them more comprehensible? Wrad 23:29, 18 April 2007 (UTC)

I agree with your cleanup work, and made a copyedit pass on "Early precursors" and "Memex" sections. The "Applications" section should probably be renamed "Hypertext before the Web" and link to Timeline of hypertext technology for context when it is copyedited. I'll take a crack at it over the next day or so unless someone else wishes to do so. --Grlloyd 23:14, 19 April 2007 (UTC)

I just removed the cleanup tag as the major problems seem to have been dealt with. Wrad 23:25, 19 April 2007 (UTC)

Well, the article as it now stands still has several problems, which indicate to me that you are not familiar with any of the technical literature on this subject (I have 25 binders of information on hypertext on file, but I am not posting any citations to that material on Wikipedia since I am reserving that for a planned book).

Here are the current problems:

  • Hypertext is not necessarily "clicked on." Although it's true that the mouse and the first working hypertext system were invented together by Engelbart, many hypertext systems did not use a mouse or mouse terminology. They used tablets, touch screens, or keyboard navigation. Even today, people surf the Web with a variety of devices for which mouse terminology is inappropriate, such as cell phones and screen readers. This is why the official HTML 4.01 standard refers to activating links,[4] and that's also the term which most Web designers and programmers use.
  • Linking, cross-referencing, and what else? There's no point in using etc. unless you are using it to terminate a fairly long list (four or five elements).
  • No serious user interface designer uses the term "user interfacing." I have read over a dozen textbooks on the subject of user interface design in the course of my research and I've never seen that neologism.
  • Your deletion of the reference to the belated rediscovery of Mendel's work at this edit [5] tells me that you have not read "As We May Think," which is pretty much mandatory reading for anyone aspiring to understand hypertext. Bush explicitly singles out Mendel in the essay's 7th paragraph: "Mendel's concept of the laws of genetics was lost to the world for a generation because his publication did not reach the few who were capable of grasping and extending it; and this sort of catastrophe is undoubtedly being repeated all about us, as truly significant attainments become lost in the mass of the inconsequential." [6]
  • "Gopher protocol" should be preceded by the definite article (there is only one such protocol).

I highly recommend taking a course on the history of computing if you can find one in your area. --Coolcaesar 07:50, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

Kindly refrain from personal attacks. Thank you. If you see errors, improve the article, rather than reverting edits or posting every last one of my mistakes here. Everyone makes them, so please be kind. Cleanup ain't easy, and somebody's foot always gets stepped on. Wrad 14:54, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

Sorry if I got a bit personal there (I forgot about the don't bite the newbies policy). I've stepped on enough toes as a novice editor that I have a personal rule of making only nonsubstantive editing changes to articles unless I am actually thoroughly familiar with the subject matter of the article; I encourage you to consider adhering to such a rule. For example, I did not study the sociology of the legal profession in law school (since I was too busy studying law). But obviously, to bring an ongoing edit war under control, the Lawyer article needed to be written from the point of view of people who study the structure of professions (sociologists), not lawyers (who study law). Before I attempted to clean up Lawyer, I read five major books on the sociology of the legal profession, did a temporary draft, integrated dozens of citations to those books into my draft, and ensured that several other editors approved of my draft before replacing the entire article with my version. Since then, I have added citations to dozens more books and periodical articles. And the Lawyer article has been remarkably stable for the past year and a half.
Obviously, I'm not saying you have to go to that level, but it would be nice if you read at least one good book on hypertext (I recommend Jakob Nielsen's excellent 1995 work) before trying to fix the hypertext article. Otherwise, you run the risk of inserting more errors while in the process of editing out errors (which, from my point of view, seems to be what is already going on). --Coolcaesar 05:44, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

Well, I just came back and looked over your suggestions. The first one, I think is fine, so I didn't change it. I make it pretty clear in the first sentence that 'clicking' is its most common form, not a comprehensive thing. Linking, cross-referencing I changed. I kept user interfacing because I've read it in plenty of places, so I don't really see a problem. The Mendel thing wasn't very well explained in the old version. I understand it better now that you've elaborated, but I don't know where it would fit or how important it actually is. Isn't it enough to say that work was duplicated? I changed gopher protocol. Wrad 02:55, 30 April 2007 (UTC)

In the spirit of the ongoing cleanup, I removed the qualification that complex hypertexts can be developed "with a computer network like the internet". Many complex hypertexts are not networked. In practice, the hypertextuality of Web hypertext has been often been limited (see Les Carr's HT04 paper), while stand-alone hypertexts like afternoon or The Victorian Web are richly linked. MarkBernstein 16:49, 30 April 2007 (UTC)

Mark, the longstanding passage I had originally drafted (before it was mangled this month) was: "The documents and applications can be local or can come from anywhere with the assistance of a computer network like the Internet." Somehow in the past month, it fell apart into the inaccurate sentence that you just fixed. Turning to Wrad's latest revisions, here is my newest critique:

  • The "sarcasm" quotes are inadequate to communicate that clicking is not the universal term. First of all, such a use of quotes is inappropriate in formal writing, including in the encyclopedic context; see scare quotes. A superior method would be to use the technically accurate (and commonly used) terms "activated" or "selected," then immediately follow with an explanation that the most common method of performing such an action is clicking. Again, Wrad, I strongly urge you to read a good book on the subject of this article. Unless you are physically disabled or you live 100 miles from civilization, you should be able to access a library without much difficulty. Practically any public library and community college library nowadays has several books on hypertext technology because of its importance. Otherwise Mark and I will have to keep correcting your misconceptions about hypertext one by one (and if I recall correctly, there is ArbCom precedent for situations where well-meaning users keep introducing inaccuracies into articles on subjects they do not understand).
  • I ran a search on Infotrac OneFile [7] for "user interfacing" (nearly all public libraries in English-speaking North America offer free remote access to OneFile to current library card holders). "User interfacing" is a rare but relatively old usage dating back as far as 1982; there were 60 hits among OneFile's 60 million articles. Practically all of the sources using it are written by or for electrical engineers or hard-core systems programmers (as opposed to applications programmers). As Wikipedia is supposed to be aimed at a general audience (including teenagers and non-geeks), I do not see any need to use obscure jargon which gets only 45,200 hits on Google versus the more common phrase "user interface" (which gets 133 million hits). Please keep in mind the famous Keep It Simple Stupid principle of engineering.
  • The Mendel example is important because (1) it is a concrete example of what is otherwise a highly abstract concept; (2) it actually influenced the flow of Bush's thoughts, and through him, Engelbart and Nelson, which makes it a small but significant motivating factor behind the development of hypertext; and (3) it is well-known among people who have taken biology courses in high school as well as anyone who has studied history of science at the college level. Most biology textbooks do devote a paragraph to the irony that Mendel's brilliant work was not widely known until his ideas were rediscovered after his death. --Coolcaesar 07:01, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

I'm just going to speak my mind here. The problems you see in your latest post would be best fixed by . . . you! If you want to change these little things, do it. Don't try to work through me. Even if I am convinced of what you say, as I am in many things, if I change it you'll see something else wrong with what I did and tell me I need to do more research (don't we all?). It would take you less than ten minutes to make these changes, whereas it has taken you weeks to try to get me to do it. Wrad 20:46, 8 May 2007 (UTC)

Well, at this point, I'm proposing that we go back to the version on 28 February 2006 [8], which in my opinion was much clearer and more technically accurate then the incoherent mess we have now. Any objections? --Coolcaesar 07:34, 15 May 2007 (UTC)
I respectfully suggest that you make incremental changes that you feel would improve the accuracy and clarity of the current baseline, as Wrad proposes. I believe that the majority of the changes improve the structure and flow of the older version (28 Feb 2007 per your link) which was marked 'cleanup required' for some time. In particular, I think updated structure helps organize the History section. The content is still fairly choppy (particularly History/Applications), but the subheads are helpful and each subhead can be incrementally rewritten while preserving significant historical links and context. --Grlloyd 18:58, 15 May 2007 (UTC)
As is already known, I am of the same opinion. Wrad 19:23, 15 May 2007 (UTC)
I disagree. The older version was both much clearer and accurate than the present version. Commencing a full rewrite of the article would be a huge drain on my time because the current version is so poorly written and inaccurate. Furthermore, I cannot do that rewrite myself because I am deliberately holding back research which I am reserving for my own long-planned book on the history of hypertext (which at my current rate will probably be completed around 2015). It would be easier to revert to the more factually accurate version and then try to rewrite from that baseline. --Coolcaesar 23:04, 14 July 2007 (UTC)

Coolcaesar: You used 171 words worth of bandwidth on this page, holding forth about the article's anachronistic use of the term "user interfacing." I fixed the problem by deleting three characters and inserting two. Pues ¡Ya no me chingas! ô¿ô 00:41, 20 July 2007 (UTC)

I posted set of edits to this article as well as memex to provide more specific quotes and conclusions from Michael Buckland's published research on electronic documentation retrieval and Bush's Memex. One edit replaced a "The Memex" section statement that Goldberg invented a Memex-like device with short paragraph in "Early Precursors" section which I tried to craft as a fair but short summary of Buckland's research. See also the "Criticism" section of memex. --Grlloyd 03:51, 12 August 2007 (UTC)


I added a bad paragraph, but then I did find the original source material. Reference to Buckland's criticism is valuable, but as originally presented, it was so out of context as to confuse the uninitiated more than enlighten. Just the omission of the date got me going, as 1992 is to a criticism of hypertext as 1450 is to a criticism of popular literacy.

5. "Associative trails." Bush had a low opinion of indexes and classification schemes:

"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 use 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." (Bush, 1945a, 106).

This account shows no awareness of the ability of indexing and classification systems to bring related material together through collocation and syndetic structure and indicates that Bush's understanding of information retrieval was severely incomplete. Bush declared, in effect, that retrieval should not function as conventional indexes do but as the human brain does, i.e. "as we may think." Bush thought that the creation of arbitrary associations between individual records was the basis of memory, so he wanted a "mem(ory-)ex", or "Memex instead of index." The result was a personalized, but superficial and inherently self-defeating design. Instead of indexing documents directly by their contents or characteristics, Bush proposed coding documents by their perceived relevance to some theme, such as the superiority of the short Turkish bow during the crusades. Documents perceived as relevant to the same theme were thereby linked to each other by a common coding, which provided a "trail" through the collection of documents. In effect, however, each trail is an indexing concept and the code for each trail is, in effect, an indexing term.

Relevance judgements, however, are notoriously inconsistent, situational, and likely to change as one's knowledge evolves. Since Bush's trails were based, not on the contents of the document but on perceived relevance of documents to trails, any individual's pattern of trails would be unlikely to be satisfactory for any other user. A personalized information system may be advantageous for an individual but has limited usefulness for others. Furthermore, perceptions of relevance are less stable than perceptions of subject content. For this reason conventional subject-based indexing remains tolerable, indeed preferable, in practice, because a system based directly on relevance, as in the Memex, could not change itself automatically to reflect continuously changing perceptions of relevance. The trails, being based on one individual's personal knowledge and perceptions of relevance, would be highly obsolescent. As a user's knowledge increased, perceptions of relevance would change, and the trails would need to be remade. Any given pattern of trails would remain appropriate only so long as the user did not learn anything from the use of the Memex--or in any other way.

I find that to be a rather large departure from the original quote. To my mind Bush is not directing his remark toward the ontology of information retrieval. It's rather a narrow remark about mechanical felicity. He begins by pointing out, in imprecise language, the artificiality of all collocation schemes. He is definitely beginning from the premise that index must exist relative to a (necessarily artificial) collocation order which defines the document retrieval path.

This is true up to a point. However, in electronic retrieval systems, the collocation order is now regarded as a low-level implementation detail. When a web server translates a URL path to a document path (if the file is served somewhat literally), most of the collocation takes place in the directory index structures implicit to the file system. URLs are regarded as distributed and hierarchical and not thought of as collocations at all.

I didn't immediately comprehend why Bush did not simply put forward that every document is simply granted a unique number (or hierarchical tupple) on inclusion to the information system. It is easy to accomplish this *within* a spool of microfilm. He seems to be thinking about problems associated with the interchange of spools. Well, you would need to duplicate a DNS-like system with a hierarchical numbering authority to ensure non-conflict. Does an index cover all the spools you might have or not have? That's a significant practical problem.

Nevertheless, I don't see the quote introduced by Buckland as reflecting on Bush's grasp of information retrieval in general. Bush is griping about an annoying practical problem which has subsequently been dealt with in the DNS/URL space. You have to have some system of reference in place to establish any kind of link from one document to another, or a position in another. It matters not whether you favour trails over indices. Bush's comment strikes me a gripe about the cumbersome nature of reference in general within the guise of a rigid collocation system.

The emergence of crowd-sourcing and folksonomies (ick, ick) challenge Buckland's assertions about "relevance judgements being notoriously inconsistent". Within the notorious inconsistency, (quasi) useful patterns nevertheless emerge. Here I think it is Buckland falling short of envisioning the automation required to extract those patterns on a practical basis, or the possibility of emergent categories as experienced on the Wikipedia.

I haven't studied the Bush material itself. How well did he manage to differentiate the mechanical issue of naming systems (potentially distributed) and document reference from his envisioned information structures within that system? I don't find Buckland's criticism particularly illuminating, but it does point the way to some important questions. I should point out my own bias that conceptual innovators tend to find themselves oscillating between theoretical modes of perception and pragmatic modes of perception, not yet being able to properly differentiate quite where the line belongs. It becomes much easier in retrospect to differentiate collocation orders from hierarchical naming systems. MaxEnt 01:27, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

MaxEnt: this is a fascinating analysis. I'm just back from Hypertext '07, and a paper along these lines, reconciling details of Goldberg, Bush, and the original Xanadu "tumbler" scheme in terms of the now-familiar framework of DNS and hierarchical filesystems would certainly be well received by Hypertext '08. That said, in Wikipedia we're getting right up to the edge of original research. I'd suggest taking one more pass at the Goldberg/Bush passage, with an eye to tightening it, removing extraneous detail, and trying to say something about the Xanadu tumblers scheme which does, I think, belong in this context. My main concern is that the precursors shouldn't overshadow the pioneers! MarkBernstein 20:11, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

Hypertext Fiction Link[edit]

Recent pruning of the external links to Hypertext Fiction included removing links to Eastgate_Systems. I think that's wrong. I'm an employee of Eastgate, but I'm also past program chair of the Hypertext Conference (twice), and I'm program chair of WikiSym 2008, and in this context I'd appreciate extension of assumption of good faith to this discussion. Eastgate has been publishing hypertext fiction since 1990, and its catalog includes the majority of titles discussed in books about literary hypertext, taught in courses on hypertext fiction, and examined in conferences and monographs. I'd prefer links to specific works of hypertext fiction in this place, but understand the desire for a concise list. Concision means trimming the list as much as possible, but not more. (I'd prefer to discuss this by email if discussion is necessary) 18:44, 4 November 2007 (UTC)

I agree that the link to Eastgate's published hypertext fiction, nonfiction and poetry is historical and relevant, but the stand-alone external "Eastgate" link did not make that clear. I added a brief next note (catalog of published hypertext fiction, nonfiction and poetry) which I hope may help settle the disagreement. --Grlloyd 20:46, 5 November 2007 (UTC)


I'm fairly well acquainted with the new media literature its history, but I'm skeptical of the "Tutor-Tech's" claim to be the first hypermedia authoring tool. It was not part of Hypertext '87. I don't believe it was cited in Conklin's 1986 review article. It has not been widely discussed in histories of hypertext if, in fact, it has been discussed at all. The claim to priority is especially doubtful, since HES, FRESS, NLS/AUGMENT, and perhaps early versions of TIES and NOTECARDS were earlier. Broadly speaking, I think PLATO might be considered a sort of early hypertext tool.

For the present, I propose to edit the entry simply to remove the mistaken claim to priority. I think the best course for the poster, assuming he or she knows about Tutor-Tech, might be to write a short paper on the system and its contributions and publish it in the ACM Hypertext Conference or, perhaps, in a history of science conference, and then to come back and amend the encyclopedic history to incorporate it. MarkBernstein (talk) 13:36, 4 May 2010 (UTC)

I agree with Mark's suggestion that PLATO should be included in a hypertext timeline both for its adoption and use in higher education and for it's influence on LOTUS NOTES developed by Ray Ozzie, Tim Halvorsen, and Len Kawell, all of whom had worked at CERL ref and [50th Anniversary of PLATO conference June 2-3 2010 featuring Ray Ozzie and others ]. --Grlloyd (talk) 21:12, 4 May 2010 (UTC)

Early Systems[edit]

Miichael Iantosca recently added the following reference to the history section:

In July, 1992, IBM researcher Michael Iantosca published an invention disclosure, A Fully Digital GML Based Authoring and Delivery System for Hypermedia (PO891-0201), based on a fully functional prototype of the IBM BookManager electronic book browser introducing new media elements, such as video and audio players, into electronic hypertext books based on generalized markup language(GML).

While this is not necessarily out of place, does this particular system merit inclusion here? The other systems described in this section, for better or worse, all had either widespread influence or attained a vast audience. BookManager didn't. Almost everything mentioned here post-1987 had a flagship paper at the ACM Hypertext Conference. I don't recall that BookManager did, though I might be confounding it with Bell Labs' Superbook. I don't recall hearing a paper on this, for example, at the 1992 European Conference on Hypertext and Hypermedia in Milano. A number of other hypertext systems of this era are not mentioned here either -- PLATO, Microcosm, NoteCards, HAM, Ntergaid, Hyperties, Aquanet, HyperSet, Scripted Paths, Trellis, Gateway, and Symbolics Document Examiner spring to mind, and I'm sure I'm forgetting some very famous and influential papers here.

So, rather than adding an isolated system (though no doubt a very fine one), perhaps we should add a review of early hypertext systems? MarkBernstein (talk) 14:13, 27 July 2011 (UTC)

The Iantosca publication should not be in the article unless it can be described in relation to its notable effect on the topic. Binksternet (talk) 14:22, 27 July 2011 (UTC)

Just for the record, this is a fully verifiable invention disclosure - possibly the earliest formally on file with the US Patent Office (cited) documenting prior art on the expansion of hypertext to hypermedia electronic books and book browsers using hypertext embedded media players. The disclosure was made public and published in IBM's widely distributed IBM Technical Disclosure Bulletin, Volume 35 Number 2 prior the emergence of the first web browser. That journal was widely read - far more so than papers presented at technical conferences of the day. Before there was a web, BookManager – based on IBM’s GML – the precursor to IBM’s invention of SGML - was the by far the most prominent electronic book browser deployed worldwide with massive electronic libraries for I/T shops; it was used heavily in every large and mid-range IT shop worldwide. In fact, BookManager is still in use today in virtually every large IBM large systems (z/OS) shops worldwide. — Preceding unsigned comment added by MikeIantosca (talkcontribs) 23:24, 27 July 2011 (UTC)

Great! Then it should be just a matter of research to find out whether the invention or its disclosure were influential in the topic. What's needed is to find somebody saying that Iantosca's GML-based system was influential or notable. Binksternet (talk) 23:46, 27 July 2011 (UTC)

If presentation of a paper at a conference is a required criteria for accurate historical recognition of a formally filed, widely published and widely read invention disclosure, then you’ll need to disqualify far more than this entry. I contend history should reflect fact, not only what is popular and newsworthy. — Preceding unsigned comment added by MikeIantosca (talkcontribs) 23:50, 27 July 2011 (UTC)

A few more relevant facts: The IBM BookManager product preceded all of the referenced citations by many years dating back to the very early 1980’s. It was originally built on and for mainframe computers - IBM VM, and IBM MVS operating systems specifically. IBM BookManager provided a unique state-of-the art commercial digital book library management system and electronic hypertext book browser solution with advanced search ranking technology and hypertext (based on IBM's SCRIPT/VS and GML) long before PC and MS DOS were viable platforms on which to support such technology and long before MS Windows and Apple. Commercial editions of IBM BookManager were ported to the DOS operating system with editions for Windows and OS/2 after those systems emerged (BookManager/2 and BookManager/Windows). Of all of the early electronic hypertext book systems, IBM BookManager was by far one of the earliest, if not the earliest, and most successful of them all; it was and continues to be used commercially to publish hundreds of thousands of electronic books by organizations worldwide to this very day. Try a Google search on any of the other works previously referenced and then do a Google search on IBM BookManager; the others cited are dwarfed by comparison. Anyone that doesn't think that GML and BookManger was an extremely significant milestone didn't grow up in I/T in the 70's and 80's or are too young to be aware of that history.

However, I fear the reviewers here miss the inventive contribution and the specific significance of the cited invention. IBM BookManager was only the vehicle; the referenced invention isn’t simply another basic hypertext document system or reader as most of the others are, it was specifically about the earliest introduction of hypertext embedded media players in readers (aka - like Flash) only months after PCs could barely play video. At the time of implementation the widely demonstrated system (in the US) used Intel’s pre-release technology to pipe the video from videodisc player to the embedded video widget launched by GML hypertext semantics. To be more specific on chronology, the invention was programmed by IBM Haifa Research Lab circa 1989; the reference invention disclosure was filed in the US patent office 1991; the invention disclosure was later published in a widely respected IBM Journal in July 1992.

Several of the other referenced systems followed substantially later - some by years. Upon reading the history of the previously referenced works none appear to cite hypertext launch of embedded video and audio widgets as prior art anywhere as early as this invention disclosure, if at all. That is the main point of the invention and the post - I contend it was a first. If someone can provide a link to any invention disclosure earlier than 1992 that specifically cites the hypertext embedding of media players in electronic hypertext books I would be obliged. — Preceding unsigned comment added by MikeIantosca (talkcontribs) 03:40, 28 July 2011 (UTC)

I really don't want in any way to criticize or to fail to honor this IBM system, which I'm sure was (or is) very fine. But I'd urge you to step back here and look, with some perspective, at the history of hypertext and the lines of influence amongst systems and among scientists. I attended all the early Hypertext conferences, and I don't recall seeing this system demonstrated, discussed, or cited. My memory may be faulty here, but in these years I read nearly every paper accepted by the hypertext conference, and for several of these conferences I read every paper submitted to the conference.
Hypertext links to audio and video are mentioned, as I recall, in Computer Lib and are surely implicit in Literary Machines. Malcolm, Poltrock, and Schuler's influential 1991 paper on "Industrial Strength Hypermedia" assumes links to audio and video segments, as well as to live data visualizations. Barry Arons' "Hyperspeech" describes an audio-only hypertext system. Garzotto, Paolini, and Schwabe are already extending HDM to "active media" in order, for example, to implicitly link a musical recording to a score or to commentary. John B. Smith's "Artifact-Based Collaboration" system supports video with what appears, in modern parlance, to have been a plug-in architecture. Jay Bolter's ECHT 92 keynote discussed "Virtual Reality and the Future of Hypertext", Simon Gibbs' keynote was "Video Nodes and Video Webs: Uses of Video in Hypermedia". Zellweger and Buchanan have a 1992 paper on hypertexts presenting multiple simultaneous media streams with scripted links among them. The 1992 Microcosm paper (Hall, Davis, et al) reports that the ten "fully aware Microcosm viewers" implemented at that time included text. bitmaps, video, and audio. Storyspace had primitive video links by 1991-2, as did Voyager's Expanded Books. I'm not sure what video facilities Intermedia had, but I'm pretty sure they did something with video as well. In any case, video integration is more properly a concern of [hypermedia] if that page is to continue to be separate from this one.
The history of hypertext patents in 1992 was not entirely beneficial. Roughly coincident with the IBM filing, the Chicago Tribute attempted to patent the concept of hypermedia (5,241,671).
I continue to think that a broad historical survey would be better than a race to add our own favorite work piecemeal. Nearly all the early literature is now readily accessible in the ACM Digital Library, and most of the participants in the research of that era remain active and are easily located. MarkBernstein (talk) 15:33, 28 July 2011 (UTC)
I concur with MarkBernstein's cogent analysis. I am familiar with most of the pre-Web hypertext academic literature and don't recall seeing anything about IBM BookManager. --Coolcaesar (talk) 05:31, 29 July 2011 (UTC)

That is because BookManager was widely used by literally hundreds of thousands of industry professionals for many years since the early 80's as an actual product for I/T shops, thus you'd not find anything about it in academic literature. I suggest we not limit our sights what was only done in academia as legitimate works - I believe that would be exceptionally narrow. That said...Mark's points are well taken. Because it wasn't presented at a major conference at the time and was only published as a US patent disclosure and published in an industry technical journal, we may never know who, if anyone, was influenced by it and thus cannot make any definitive claim that it had any significant impact in the overall evolution on the subject unless someone comes forward. However, it was clearly among the earliest actual coded implementations and there is no evidence whatsoever of any patent disclosures using those specific techniques filed prior to it. The said it was filed as a defensive disclosure and the a patent never sought - it instead went to publish status. Had the patent been sought it would have not been sought for hypermedia but for much narrower and specific art and I believe the defensive submission helped the industry by putting put prior art officially on record at the US patent office. Yes, there were theories that preceded it but there wasn’t anything as specific as that implementation filed in the patent office before it. Extensive searches for prior art was performed by patent attorneys and no prior art was found at the time (folks need to remember the era – there was no web to search in 1991 and prior art searches were generally limited to what was already filed with the patent office). So in conclusion I withdraw my arguments for inclusion. However, I believe that it would be appropriate to cite it among its peers on early systems if such an additional section should ever be added as Mark suggested. — Preceding unsigned comment added by MikeIantosca (talkcontribs) 11:43, 29 July 2011 (UTC)


I've removed a long discussion of Tim Sheridan's reported contribution to the invention of hypertext. I was at Hypertext 87, and have been part of the program committee for most of the subsequent hypertext conferences, and I'm quite familiar with the literature. I've never heard of this work. I don't believe it's every been cited. The section was poorly sourced. It may have been a hoax, or simply original research, or perhaps an axe being ground.

I've also removed, more reluctantly, a paragraph about Christoph Alexander. It's an interesting observation, but this sort of heavily cross-referenced writing was not unheard-of even in 1977; see the literature on "programmed instruction" for examples, as well as early fiction of Coover, Fowler, and (cited here) Borges. Moreover, my impression is that the Alexander book's cultural influence came in two waves; first, a period of professional interest centered rather tightly in Latin America and Southern France, and then -- much later -- a burst of interest in broader tech circles thanks to the Gang of Four and their book Design Patterns. The first appearance of patterns in the hypertext literature was a Daniel Schwabe paper in '96 or '97, followed by my "Patterns of Hypertext" paper in '98. MarkBernstein (talk) 14:44, 26 July 2012 (UTC)

I removed once again the uncited paragraph about Sheridan. I defer to those more knowledgeable than I on the topic, but I am certainly able to confirm that there is no existing literature about Tim Sheridan. He is not appropriate to this article. Binksternet (talk) 15:52, 26 July 2012 (UTC)

redirection from 'hypotext'[edit]

hi, just wanted to point out that the redirection to this page from 'hypotext' is inaccurate. Heterodiamond (talk) 17:34, 20 April 2013 (UTC)

Forms of Hypertext[edit]

Barsa143 introduced a section of "Forms Of Hypertext", proposing a division among axial, arborescent, and network structures. Rhododendrites reverted this for WP:OR and WP:V.

The scheme is unreferenced, and perhaps even Barsa143 thought it was OR, but good references would not be hard to find. This is, in fact, the topic of this year's Engelbart Award paper from Hypertext '13:

David Millard, Charlie Hargood, Michael Jewell, Mark Weal. Canyons, Deltas and Plains: Towards a Unified Sculptural Model of Location-Based Hypertext. Proc. ACM Hypertext 2013 Paris, France, May 2013.

The underlying analysis is quite old; see, for example, H. van Dyk Parunak’s

Parunak, H. VanDyke. “Hypercubes Grow on Trees (and Other Observations From the Land of Hypersets).” Hypertext’93 (1993): 73-81.

and Landow's rhetoric of arrival and departure:

Landow, George P. “Relationally Encoded Links and the Rhetoric of Hypertext.” Hypertext 87, Chapel Hill, 1987.

I might also mention

Bernstein, Mark. “Patterns of Hypertext.” Hypertext ‘98, Pittsburgh, PA, 1998.

The tripartite scheme is too simple, and privileges simple hypertexts (axial is more often called annotative and arborescent is usually simply called tree), but it's not entirely silly. On the whole, it's better to add citations to a badly source passage than simply to delete it as OR. This might be WP:UNDUE, but surely the structure of hypertext is a reasonable topic for an article about hypertext, especially as structural questions have been prominent in research from the beginning. MarkBernstein (talk) 18:51, 4 September 2013 (UTC)

Those appear to be good sources, but... Good references would not be hard to find backing up that there are three forms of hypertext? And that those are the three reflected in the article? And that such a model/theory reflects the consensus of scholarship on hypertext rather than the particular ideas put forth by one or two people? It sounds like you're saying they're good ideas and based on some sound theory, but you disagree with aspects of them yourself (the tripartite scheme as well as the terms, which in the article are currently stated as though they are universally accepted). If those sources do not themselves state that the three forms of hypertext are axial, arborescent, and networked, and if instead those three are an interpretation or model that Barsa143 based on existing literature [insightful and/or educated as it may be], then it's certainly OR.
That being said, I agree that the structure of hypertext makes sense to include and have not looked at the sources you mention. I also agree that adding sources is preferable to deleting. Maybe you could replace what's there (or modify it) to give a better overview of the different positions of such structure. Or perhaps you (or Barsa143) are in a position to at the very least add a source and attribution to what's there now (as one perspective, of what it sounds like are many)?
I don't mean to sound pedantic, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone else cuts it again. The section screams OR right now. --Rhododendrites (talk) 01:15, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
Let's see if we can salvage something, Why not add some of these refs for starters, and see what we can fix up?MarkBernstein (talk) 02:50, 5 September 2013 (UTC)

Proposed revisions to edits by User:Sofia Koutsouveli on 17 March 2014[edit]

I just noticed that User:Sofia Koutsouveli inserted two major inaccuracies on 17 March 2014 that have not been corrected:

1. Actually, the Memex could not implement hypertext, as is obvious to anyone who has read the relevant works by Michael Buckland and G. Pascal Zachary. 2. Xanadu wasn't a model, it was supposed to be a full-fledged business and technological enterprise. It is clear from Nelson's own books that he wanted to be what Thomas Hughes would call a system builder.

Any objections before I fix this? --Coolcaesar (talk) 05:21, 26 April 2015 (UTC)

i know and think highly of Buckland's book. I'd try to express Buckland's point with some care and tact, though. Point 2 is correct, but Xanadu was also a model, and that model was influential. MarkBernstein (talk) 09:27, 31 May 2015 (UTC)

Lead section: last paragraph deleted[edit]

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.

This information deleted from the lead section is in need of clarification, I think. Why should highlights or paragraphs be omitted ever? What is a highlight? What does "hyper-structured" mean? What is a hypertext node? Embedded how? Control the display of what? No context or sources are given, and therefore the relevance of this information is not clear. Half of it seems to be jargon. —Coconutporkpie (talk) 05:18, 31 May 2015 (UTC)

The article on History of hypertext should be merged back into this article[edit]

See Talk:History of hypertext. --Coolcaesar (talk) 12:16, 11 August 2015 (UTC)

Reader-centric research[edit]

In the Hypertext Fiction section, there is mention of Marshall McLuhan and paradigm shifts. I would like to suggest an edit point to some research completed by Ray Siemens et. al ("HCI-Book? Perspectives on E-Book Research 2006-2008")[1] that reader research is still in its infancy and requires significant development. Pointing to that article and including a citation would, I think, be productive for alerting interested readers to new modes of research. Thenewpulp (talk) 22:17, 20 January 2017 (UTC)

  • Note - The above editor has a conflict of interest - see this diff. I am unsure why they have not chosen to disclose that the edit they are suggesting is a reference to a book authored by the person who is paying them to edit. Regards Exemplo347 (talk) 01:21, 21 January 2017 (UTC)
The COI issue has been addressed. Please consult my Wikipedia profile page. Thank you. Thenewpulp (talk) 22:36, 2 February 2017 (UTC)


  1. ^ Siemens, Ray; Dobson, Teresa (2011). "HCI-Book? Perspectives on E-Book Research 2006-2008". Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada/Cahiers de la Société Bibliographique du Canada. 49 (1): 39. |access-date= requires |url= (help)

Reader-Centric Research[edit]

Hello, I would like to recommend an addition to the paragraph that discusses Marshall McLuhan and ends with "hypertext links." Please find it below:

Importantly, this development puts the reader, rather than the author, at the center of the paradigm made available by hypertexts. Yet “the figure of the reader in much editorial theory often remains abstract and even mystified” in modern scholarship.”[1]

Note: I am a Wikipedian-in-Residence and further information about this position can be found at my Profile page. Thenewpulp (talk) 21:26, 2 February 2017 (UTC)

This seems appropriate; I've gone ahead and added your request. Mehmuffin (talk) 19:11, 28 June 2017 (UTC)


  1. ^ Siemens, Ray; Dobson, Teresa (2011). "HCI-Book? Perspectives on E-Book Research 2006-2008". Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada/Cahiers de la Société Bibliographique du Canada. 49 (1): 39. |access-date= requires |url= (help)

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We're missing gopher[edit]

Gopher (protocol) pre-dated the WWW in announcement by less than a year, but in wide deployment by several years, and had a strong influence on the information-architecture approach and the adoption pattern of the WWW. Organizations that had gopher servers already had an arranged document tree, managed by system administrators capable of quickly and easily making this content available via an additional protocol, after addition of some (technically optional) HTML index pages. I was actually professionally in this field during the transition, and remember the process (internally where I worked, and across thousands of university, government, and other servers) very well. Our article on gopher already has some sources that can be used in this article, but it'll be worth digging for some that go more into the gopher–WWW relationship.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  22:16, 4 June 2018 (UTC)