Predecessors of Hypertext Structures - Informatics for Humanists

Predecessors of hypertext structures

The very first theoretical description of an information system based on the principle of hypertextual representation of information was proposed by the American engineer Vannevar Bush in 1945, although the term was not known to him at the time. Bush described the device he called "Memex" (from the English Mettek - Memory Extender is a memory extender) in which each individual will be able to store his books, records and other information objects that arise during his interaction with the surrounding peace. The device is such that at any time, any of the objects of this information store " can be obtained almost instantaneously and without any restrictions. Such a device, as V. Bush wrote, will become an expanded individual addition to his memory. As the basic functional characteristic of this device, Bush indicated its ability to arbitrarily connect two any elements stored in it.

An example of how you can work in the environment of the "Memex" device is given in an article by W. Bush, which he calls "How we can think" ( As We May Think ). Bush writes: "Suppose that the owner of" Memex "will be interested in the question of the origin and properties of such medieval weapons as bow and arrows. In particular, he is looking for an explanation for the fact why the short Turkish bow clearly outperformed in its fighting characteristics the English longbow, which was manifested during the Crusaders' battles during the Crusades. In his notebook there is a list of books and articles in which material on this issue can be found. First he addresses to encyclopedic publications, finds there relevant articles that contain useful information, but all of it is presented in a very condensed form. Then he turns to historical textbooks, finds information on the issue of interest to them in these books and links it to the one found earlier. So he studies different publications and compiles a sequence of information fragments, which he chose. He can in some cases include in these fragments his own comments and comments, which he appends both as independent elements - the branches of the sequence, and including these comments directly into the text of any of the selected fragments. When he finds out that the physical properties of the stretching of materials from which weapons were made at that time are directly related to the issue under investigation, he can compose a new (lateral) sequence of related texts found in the textbook on the resistance of materials and in tables of physical constants . All this can lead to the joining of author's materials devoted to the comparative analysis of the collected data, etc. So he gradually "thrashes the way," "paves the way," the path among the array of information available to him. "

The device described by W. Bush has never been implemented, since at that time he did not have at his disposal an adequate technology for solving such a problem. Therefore, almost all similar ideas and developments in this field in the precomputer period of the development of mankind have not received a full-fledged development. The hypertext principle of organizing information was most fully realized only thanks to the invention and the widespread dissemination of computers and, especially, as a result of the emergence of computer networks and their main modern representative - the Internet. The appearance of the reference systems Guide (1985) and HyperCard (1987) is considered to be a milestone in the history of the formation of computer hypertext technologies ). The spread of the Internet and, in particular, the appearance in 1992 of the first public graphical Internet browser "Mosaic" ( Mosaic ) brought this phenomenon to the level of mass recognition and required special study.

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