You've Got Hypertext

M. C. Schraefel, Leslie Carr, David De Roure, Wendy Hall


The paper considers possible "future everyday hypertext systems". To ground the discussion, we look first at the functional and conceptual definitions of hypertext that have evolved in the hypertext research community. We then consider these definitions against the Web, the best known current everyday hypertext, but one that the hypertext community has regarded as only partially a hypertext system at best. We propose, however, that a full, rich hypertext is alive and well and living in an equally successful everyday system: that system is email. We look at how email meets the criteria, both functionally and conceptually, for rich hypertext. We then use email-as-hypertext as our touchstone for assessing future hypertext systems. In particular, we consider the newest system on the Web event horizon, the Semantic Web, and show how the potential hypertextness of the Semantic Web has been anticipated by pre- and co-Web hypertext research systems. We consider how, if informed by the attributes of our email model, the Semantic Web may be able to break away from the limited hypertext model of the Web to become a rich, everyday hypertext system like email. We present three current hypertext research efforts that use the Semantic Web platform to show how these may be seen to embody such email-like hypertext qualities.

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