Computer Hypertext - Informatics for the Humanities

Computer Hypertext

The beginning of a wide distribution of means for creating hypertext materials is usually associated with the creation of a special software program called Apple , which was called HyperCard and was part of the software that was installed free of charge on every computer of the Macintosh system from 1987 onwards. The primary information item in the HyperCard was a computer analogue of the information storage card in the database. Several cards, united by some principle, constitute the so-called informational stack (from English stack - a heap , pile, storage). A lot of such stacks form a computer analogue of a book depository, or an archive. In fact, only one technological method can be considered as a hypertext in this whole system: the possibility of creating a special icon in any place of an information card - an icon that refers to the text of another card.

This feature was implemented in the HyperCard with system using the special tool for creating links between cards - the HyperTalk subroutine, the main operator of which was the command goto. The very principle of storing information in the form of a stack required that at least two function buttons-icons-were present on each card-go to the next card and go back , to the previous card. In general, such transitions could disrupt the initial sequence of reading cards on the stack, which gave the entire system the visibility of hypertext. Simplicity and ease of formation of connections between cards in the HyperCard system made it possible for the link icon to be installed anywhere in the card and link this card to any other card in accordance with the intention and desire of the author. Therefore, the system HyperCard is considered to be the first computer-based hypertext system in which the opportunity to quickly create context-dependent links was realized, which subsequently found wide application in computer reference and training programs using the principle hypertext.

Currently in the computer field, the term hypertext refer equally to different objects:

1) This is the name of a special method for constructing information systems that provide direct access to data while preserving the natural (or special preinstalled) logical links between them;

2) This is a specific system for presenting hypermedia information (text and multimedia) in the form of a network of interconnected information units;

3) This is a special universal computer program interface, the distinctive features of which are its interactivity and extremely high degree of adaptability in relation to the psychology of the user.

At its core, hypertext is close to the methods of constructing and using databases, which include the possibility of direct access to all elements, as well as the mechanisms for their operative restructuring.

Hypertext is a form of information organization that is identical to semantic networks that combine poorly formalized or not formalized multimodal - text and multimedia - information units with algorithmically organized, rigidly defined processes of their structuring.

From a formal point of view, any hypertext is based on a specifically organized database, which consists of two types of information-significant objects: hypertext nodes (English hypernode ) , in which some relatively completed information can be submitted, and hyperlinks hyperlink ) , establishing the semantic and structural relations in an explicit form between these relatively informationally independent units. Information nodes can be information carriers of any size and any perception modality (any document, whole book, separate section, paragraph, sentence, picture or fragment, animation, video, etc.).

The formalization of a hypertext structure is usually accomplished by mapping it in the form of a oriented graph , in which the points (or circles), information nodes are designated, and arrows are the links between them (hyperlinks). An example of such an image in comparison with a more traditional ( tree-like ) data display scheme is shown in Fig. 5.1.

A schematic representation of a hypertext space in the form of an oriented graph (a) and a tree of dependencies (b)

Fig. 5.1. A schematic representation of a hypertext space in the form of an oriented graph (a) and a dependency tree strong> (b)

Information hypertext nodes usually represent some kind of conceptual statement or express one specific idea. This information can be differently structured and structured depending on its functional semantics (for example, approval, explanation, reference information, developing and detailing a statement, illustrative information, experimental results, observations, factual information and conclusions, information of an applied nature and its semantic-syntactic description).

Information nodes form a single hypertext space thanks to the links between them, which are established a priori by the authors of hypertext in accordance with some of their own conceptual representations via the hyperlink (hypertext links) system. The node that is the source for some link is called in the English-speaking tradition of the node-addressee, or referential information node. A node in which a link leads is called in the English-speaking tradition the destination node of the link, or referent ( significative node ) . Any fragment of the information node can be associated with another node, its part or with its own another fragment with the help of so-called anchors (English < strong> anchor ) , or special tokens that are not visible to the reader, which are placed in the right parts of the text (picture, diagram, audio, video and m.).

The content of the information node or its fragment is displayed on the computer screen by activating a hyperlink (link). They can be unidirectional (leading from one information node to another) or bidirectional (providing the movement between two related information fragments in both directions). Until the appearance of a modern type of Internet browser - Internet browsers - this difference between the types of hyperlinks was very much used in educational computer systems, at the moment all hyperlinks on the Internet are bidirectional, because the ability to return to any of several previous stages of browsing the web page is laid out in the browser itself.

Hyperlinks can also be classified according to their structural and functional role in the general hypertext space system as referential links (for establishing cross-citation ratios) and how to link hierarchical (to establish a parent-child relationship). This classification is now very actively used for the most effective system of organizing information search on the Internet in all the most famous search engines.

Thus, the hypertext principle becomes applicable to virtually any type of information that is naturally related or linked purposefully by the authors of hypertext.

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