The Indirect Authoring Paradigm – Bringing Hypertext into the Web

Hartmut Obendorf

Abstract


Building hypertext systems to provide the required functionality to write hypertexts has always been a goal of hypertext research. The parallel development of hypertext research prototypes and the World Wide Web has resulted in repeated attempts to replace the Web or offer world-wide all-purpose services to augment the Web with "missing" functionality. The paper argues that focusing on the development of tools that offer support to hypertext authors for specific tasks is a necessary first step for the introduction of sophisticated hypertext features into the Web. Following a brief history of interaction with the Web, we demonstrate why authoring tools for the Web are a critical target for efforts to extend the use of hypertexts in the Web. We introduce indirect authoring as a label for a shared characteristic of different approaches that try to reduce the complexity and cognitive overhead involved in authoring hypertext. Drawing on this analysis, we lay out some consequences for hypertext research. We provide pointers to projects that have started to experinment with indirect authoring, and list immediate research questions. Developing a diversity of task-oriented authoring tools to reduce the cognitive overhead for authoring hypertexts could change the face of the Web.

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