HUMAN '21: Proceedings of the 4th Workshop on Human Factors in Hypertext

Full Citation in the ACM Digital Library

SESSION: Opening Keynote

Session details: Opening Keynote

Still Crazy After All These Years. 60 Years of Hypertext and Counting?

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web. But the notion of hypertext as a form of non-sequential writing dates back to the early 1960s. Hypertext and hypermedia systems as useful tools for creative thought have almost been forgotten along with several other flavors of pioneering systems. Even the Web went through several stages from a cross-platform information medium, to e-commerce, to Web 2.0, to the mobile Web, to the so-called Social Networks. Today, several trending online platforms are successful despite the fact that they are mobile-only or even app-only without providing decent cross-linking mechanisms to content on other servers. According to business goals it seems to be mandatory to make users spend as much time as possible on their own pages and let them swipe through endless content streams. The keynote will present some of the lost cyberspaces to revive the original motivation for future development. The urgent and complex problems of the world can only be tackled collectively with a powerful, and connected online medium for personal benefit and collective commons.

SESSION: Gamified Systems and Historical Demo

Session details: Gamified Systems and Historical Demo

Modelling Gamified Systems with Event Storming Augmented by Spatial Hypertext

Gamification is a widely used way of increasing motivation and fun in the use of systems that are not games. By outlining critical aspects in developing gamified systems, we adapted the modelling technique event storming in the context of a special case study where a gamified, collaborative platform was developed. For this purpose, the relationship of event storming and spatial hypertext has been worked out and an event storming extension has been introduced based on spatial hypertext principles. With respect to the case study and further insights in the academic context, we discuss how the emerging nature of event storming could benefit from a specialized spatial hypertext tool.

Don't Dream It, See It: A Live Demo of The Microcosm Hypertext System

Here we revisit hypertexts as found before the Web became its current established form. One such system from that time is 'Microcosm', which was initially developed at the University of Southampton in UK from the late-1980s to the late-1990s. Microcosm grew out of experiments with videodisc technology and Hypercard by Southampton's Multimedia Research Group, under Wendy Hall. This work was part of the challenge of creating an interactive digital version of the Mountbatten Archive [17] that the University had recently acquired. By 1988, that earlier work had grown into the 'Microcosm' hypertext system in 1988 [15, p.xiii]. The first formal technical description came in a publication at ECHT'90 [9], whilst the results of teaching using Microcosm were reported on the next year [14]. The original system ran as a discrete app on the Windows OS and was not networked. Although the latter had been an original design intent [15, p.133] limitations of the erstwhile Windows platform meant the networked aspects could not be implemented [15, p.139]. An interesting feature of Microcosm was that it offered ways to hook into the window tool bars of then-current MS Office, to assist with the creation of links (though copies of the code for these extensions have yet to be re-discovered). As well as providing a means to view data via hypertext links, Microcosm allowed its users to make discrete data 'applications'. That might be a teaching course or a company knowledge base. Once authored, an application could be distributed for use by any user with a Microcosm installation. The client could install multiple applications for different, discrete, use. Despite constraints on early networking plans, the Microcosm team were active in the Open Hypertext System concept (ECHT'92[6], ECHT'94[7]). Such ideas offered the potential for sharing information between different hypertext systems, as use across different systems as opposed to sharing between same system clients was a general limitation at that time. From its initial academic beginnings, the program was spun out from the University into a commercial company (Multicosm Ltd), which sold the program to both public and private sector clients as well as for academic use. The most complete coverage of Microcosm's story is in the 1996 book Rethinking Hypermedia: The Microcosm Approach [15], written when Microcosm was still an active product. A new, Microcosm 'TNG', version was proposed [10] [15, p.154] but whilst the company continued on with other products, work on the Microcosm program ceased towards the end of the 1990s. That last part of the story is, as yet, undocumented. Now some 25 years later, the most interesting aspects for today's viewer are Microcosm's linkbase stack and its ability to link into video at a time stamp, something unusual at that time. As was common in full hypertext systems pre-Web, Microcosm stored its links externally in a link base and not in the content. Microcosm leveraged that architecture by offering the ability to attach a number of discrete link bases, of both deliberately authored links or to generate calculated links from selected texted. By adjusting the ordering of the linkbases within the stack, the user experience could be varied in the way the active application responded. Meanwhile, the ability to define links targets on a discrete area of a running video might seem trivial now, but at the time was not a common feature, and reflected the project's multimedia roots.

SESSION: News Recommendations and Closing Keynote

Session details: News Recommendations and Closing Keynote

A User Centered News Recommendation System

Spending an uncontrolled quantity and quality of time on digital information sites is affecting our well-being and can lead to serious problems in the long term. In this paper, we present a sequential recommendation framework that uses deep reinforcement learning to capture the users' short and long-term interests, with a proposed use case of blending social news with recommended micro-learning informative news items that can help users derive useful outcomes out of their presence online.


Storyspace, introduced at the first ACM Workshop on Hypertext in 1987, was developed as a hypertext system for exploring creative writing and for writing instruction. Uniquely among systems of that era, Storyspace continues in use today, and Storyspace documents remain conveniently accessible. The technical and theoretical forces that shaped Storyspace continue to be interesting today.