The Wonders of Hypertext

The key to the Web’s success lies in its ability to present information in a non-linear format. Though a user may begin with a given starting point (often known as a home page), where to go from there is up to the whim of that user. Order becomes irrelevant, at least in the tradition sense of reading a book from one end to another. Because the Web allows you to click and choose your next subject, you can skip over entire sections of information while nesting through others in great depth. This ability to “surf the ‘Net,” exploring the Internet with no defined end point or order, is known as hypernavigation, and the form in which it appears on the Web is commonly referred to as hypertext.

Hypertext was first conceived of nearly 50 years ago when futurist and FDR technology policy advisor Bush (left) published his article, As We May Think in the July 1945 issue of The Atlantic Monthly. In the piece, he discussed how society and technology must cope with the ever-increasing scientific advances in post-War America. Among other things, he predicted the invention of a curious device known as a Memex (or Memory Extender), a data storage device “in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility.” Electronic “links” would allow the Memex user to connect different points of information together, so he or she could go from one page of a book to another, or from one page to an entirely different publication or subject.



September 27, 2010. Uncategorized.

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