Hypertexts

This is the 15th ACM conference on hypertext and hypermedia, but no-one has published a research hypertext at the conference.

In a bold experiment, for the first time we are calling for hypertext submissions of research results. Part of the conference's mission is to create an incubator which fosters and reflects on non-linear writing, and this new step will tackle directly a key intellectual question for our field: how do non-traditional, hypertext structurings of scholarly materials enhance the scientific communication process? As the hypertext community, we are uniquely poised to analyze this question.

In short, we invite you to submit your hypertext research as hypertext.

As this is a new initiative, we've provided a brief introduction, notes on review criteria, and submission guidelines. In the resources section you'll find some hypertext design ideas, example hypertexts, hypertext tools and research papers published on scholarly hypertext and hypertext argumentation.

Introduction: Research Hypertexts

Research Hypertexts — also called scholarly hypertexts — are distinct from other literary genres such as poetry and fiction which have produced more widespread hypertext examples. As a researcher, you want on the one hand to offer readers the benefits of hypertext (e.g. choosing their own paths and seeing different kinds of structures), while on the other hand wanting enough control over the reader's experience to ensure that your reasoning and arguments are experienced in a coherent manner, and have maximum persuasive impact. It is this tension which makes Research Hypertexts such an interesting challenge.

Review criteria

Hypertext submissions raise interesting new issues when it comes to peer review:

  • Quality of the contribution.
    The same standards of scholarship apply to hypertexts as to paper. If the reviewer cannot rate the submission highly on the standard dimensions of quality used by HT reviewers, the submission fails. Cool design is not a replacement for substance.
  • Quality of design.
    That being said, we do of course want to encourage design excellence, and just as a paper increases its chances of acceptance if it is engagingly written, so will your hypertext. Moreover, content and form may be hard to separate.
  • No size limit.
    We are not going to restrict a hypertext submission to the same arbitrary word count as can be fitted onto 8 ACM-styled pages. Such a restriction would make the hypertext a derivative cousin to paper, when we want to encourage the breaking of new ground. Removing the size limit will be an inducement for some to move to a hypertext submission (but clearly, you present more at the possible cost of dilution, and reviewer patience). Reviewers will be asked to give the same time to reviewing hypertexts as they would spend on a paper submission, but you may be good enough to communicate more persuasively in that timeframe, or entice the reviewer to read more.
  • Archival versions.
    The ACM SIGWEB website will archive accepted hypertexts, and the entry in the ACM DL will point clearly to this as the full and definitive version.

Submissions

  • Computing platform.
    While we anticipate (perhaps wrongly) that web browsers will be the most common client, if special 'player' software is needed, this must be provided, or freely downloadable. If not a self-contained hypertext which can be viewed offline, it is acceptable to require the reader to be online (e.g. if your work is a server-based weblog). The submission must have a coversheet with the usual title, abstract and contact details, plus any user instructions for installation. The hypertext may be submitted as an attachment or URL.
  • External links.
    If links to external resources are provided, it is your decision whether you risk these not being accessible. Consider supplying local versions of critical resources (e.g. as screenshots, web archives, or Acrobat documents).
  • Bugs.
    It is your responsibility to ensure that the hypertext is bug-free. Broken links or media equate to typos or printing errors in a paper, and risk impeding your message.
  • Single file submissions.
    Please submit a single file to the conference website. Hypertexts requiring multiple files should be submitted as a Zip archive.

Hypertext resources

Research hypertexts are a fresh challenge which we hope you'll seize. Perhaps you've never seen examples of how to use hypertext to communicate research ideas, in which case consider some of the hypertext design ideas, and see how these and other devices are used in example hypertexts. Or perhaps you've never tried a hypertext writing tool before: we've listed some hypertext tools that you can use to design your work. Finally, you'll get broader perspectives from some of the research papers published on scholarly hypertext and hypertext argumentation.

Design ideas: the spectrum of hypertextuality

Here are some suggestions about ways you might go about writing a hypertext submission.

  • Think about it for 5 seconds — you could easily augment your traditional document with helpful navigational links within the document, and to references, software, websites and people you cite.
  • Think a little harder. Maybe there are two audiences who will be interested in your work. Might they prefer two gateways and paths, starting from the common ground that they will understand, and on which you are building?
  • Or perhaps you have several lines of attack to make your point. Could they be lifted out and made into explicit paths through the narrative, crossing each other at relevant points?
  • What about maps to summarise the essential structure of not only your document (useful) but your argument? We know that people can grasp an argument more quickly when they see the structure.
  • Worried about your reader not encountering all of your writing? Provide a core backbonewhich takes them on a mandatory path, but with optional sidepaths for the curious. Show which nodes have yet to be visited so they know when there's nothing new to see.
  • For the even more adventurous, lead your reader to revisit a node which they will read with fresh eyes since their first encounter.
  • Present your arguments as configurations of smaller nodes which can be displayed/animated in more flexible ways than as a single chunk of text.
  • Define thematic regions of the hypertext which can now refer to each other as macro-structures.
  • Model the literature as a semantic network to support a literature review.
  • Define patterns of moves which the reader will come to recognise as meaningful units.
  • Provide novel visualizations or other services to make the structure of an argument or literature review clearer, or amenable to interactive analysis.
  • Play with spatial, associative and semantic hypertext conventions to strike different tones and texture the manner in which you make your points. (What's the rhetorical and persuasive difference between a semantically-typed link, a spatial juxtaposition, and an associative web-style link?)

Research/scholarly hypertexts

  • A selection of non-fiction hypertexts is published by Eastgate. Of specific relevance is Socrates in the Labyrinth by David Kolb which tackles head on the question of argumentation using hypertext
  • E-Literacies by Nancy Kaplan. "I have twisted the language to contrive the title of this essay because I want to interrogate the future of literacy, both its electronic formations (if indeed these differ from its pre-electronic ones) and its social origins and effects. Hence: I am using the unpronounceable locution e-literacies in two different ways..."
  • Hypertext 2.0 by George Landow "explores changing ideas in hypertext fiction, hypertext rhetoric, and in the practice of hypertext reading and writing." Another example is his Victorian Web.
  • Hypertext as Subversive by David Kolb. "The text experiments with different modes of criticism. One part discusses Kwinter's opinions in a traditional quotation and comment method. Another part plays with hypertext links to place Kwinter's opinions into a larger space of options. In addition, there is an experiment involving links to pages elsewhere on the web."
  • The Shadow of an Informand: An Experiment in Hypertext Rhetoric by Stuart Moulthrop. "Why aren't you reading this document in a hypertext system? Or to put this in more directly relevant terms: How is it that the hypertext research community carries on its communications primarily in print? What does this preference imply, both about our organizations and about the systems we develop and study?"

Hypertext tools

    Free software

    • Blogging tools: Freely available blogging (weblogging) tools and blog hosting services are emerging as a popular way to create web hypertexts with server support for managing links and designing consistent layouts.
    • Compendium: "A hypertext concept mapping tool to construct networks and freeform arrangements of nodes; nodes can contain arbitrary amounts of text; drag&drop multimedia and web links into maps; roll-over nodes pop up images; transclusions assist hypertextual structures and navigation; HTML export linearises networks and preserves transclusive links; XML export can be processed by other tools." Free application for authoring and viewing.
    • VKB: "The Visual Knowledge Builder (VKB) is a second generation spatial hypertext system." You may want to use VKB's spatial interface to take the reader on a journey through juxtapositions of nodes and interlinked spaces.

    Products

    • Storyspace: "Storyspace is a hypertext writing environment that is especially well suited to large, complex, and challenging hypertexts. Storyspace focuses on the process of writing, making it easy and pleasant to link, revise, and reorganize. Storyspace is available for Windows and Macintosh computers". Full features detailed on website.
    • Tinderbox: "Tinderbox is a personal content management assistant. It stores your notes, ideas, and plans. It can help you organize and understand them. And Tinderbox helps you share ideas through Web journals and web logs." Full features detailed on website.

Selected research papers

Contact Information

For further details, or to submit a hypertext, please contact the hypertexts chair: Simon Buckingham Shum, sbs@acm.org

Hypertext submissions:
Past Deadline (March 12, 2004)

Simon Buckingham Shum
sbs@acm.org