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In computing, a hypertext system is one for displaying information that contains references (called hyperlinks or simply links) to other information on the system, and for easily publishing, updating and searching for the information. The most well-known hypertext system is the World Wide Web. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypertext

Mainstream and Subcultures

The relationship between mainstream, "hegemonic" culture and the subcultures that split off from it mirrors the relationship of a linear, dominant narrative strain to the skein of other paths that could be pursued by the reader of hypertext. In other words, the way power is distributed in society relates to the way meaning is distributed in a hypertext narrative. In Subculture, The Meaning of Style, Dick Hebdige describes hegemony and the battle for subcultural meaning that resides beneath it. -- (A. G.) for feedmag.com

From Gutenberg to Hypertext

As George Landow suggests in Hypertext and Critical Theory, we are currently undergoing a "revolution in human thought." Simultaneous paradigm shifts in apparently diverse disciplines are converging, creating a new conceptual system based in "multilinearity, nodes, links, and networks" rather than "centre, margin, hierarchy, and linearity." --Chris Dunning via http://www.island.net/~chrisbo/landow2.htm


Hypermedia is a term used as a logical extension of the term hypertext, in which audio, video, plain text, and non-linear hyperlinks intertwine to create a generally non-linear medium of information. This contrasts with multimedia, which, although often capable of random access in terms of the physical medium, is essentially linear in nature.

The World Wide Web is a classic example of hypermedia, whereas a movie on a DVD is an example of standard multimedia. Of course, the lines between the two can (and often do) blur depending on how a particular technological medium is implemented. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypermedia [Jul 2004]

Ted Nelson

1963 - Ted Nelson coined the term Hypertext — the linking of information and a system for viewing it — in 1963 (its actual invention is thought to be by Vannevar Bush in 1945).

Vannevar Bush

1945 Vannevar Bush foresees the invention of hypertext
Vannevar Bush, American nuclear physicist and futurist, recognized the information explosion that few recognized was in progress even then. The technological and scientific advances made during the recent world war did much to hasten the coming of the information revolution. Bush realized that if a way were not soon found to search for information following the thread of an idea across many publications, books, and documents, the vast store of knowledge amassed by humanity would become all but inaccessible, and therefore of little use to anybody except narrowly defined specialists in a particular field. The idea of hypermedia was born.

Tim Berners-Lee

In 1989, Berners-Lee submitted a proposal at CERN to develop an information system that would create a web of information. Initially, his proposal received no reply, but he began working on his idea anyway. In 1990, he wrote the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP)—the language computers would use to communicate hypertext documents over the Internet and designed a scheme to give documents addresses on the Internet. Berners-Lee called this address a Universal Resource Identifier (URI). (This is now usually known as a URL—Uniform Resource Locator.) By the end of the year he had also written a client program (browser) to retrieve and view hypertext documents. He called this client "WorldWideWeb." Hypertext pages were formatted using the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) that Berners-Lee had written. He also wrote the first web server. A web server is the software that stores web pages on a computer and makes them available to be accessed by others. Berners-Lee set up the first web server known as "info.cern.ch." at CERN. -- http://www.ibiblio.org/pioneers/lee.html


Backlinking [called trackback in blogspace] crudely approximates the two-way linking feature of an early hypertext system invented by Ted Nelson called Xanadu. Nelson coined the term Hypertext—the linking of information and a system for viewing it—in 1963 (its actual invention is thought to be by Vannevar Bush in 1945), but his project was hampered by the technology of the time as well as Nelson's noble flaw: a passion for maximum efficiency and correctness. Nelson spent most of his life developing an impressively overengineered system that would have been perfect if only his team had the strength to complete it, and Xanadu's glory was stolen from under its feet by a much quicker and dirtier system invented by Tim Berners-Lee in the late 1980s: the World Wide Web. (Ted's rather bitter about this, understandably.)--http://www.disenchanted.com/dis/technology/xanadu.html


A hyperlink, or simply a link, is a reference in a hypertext document to another document or other resource. It is similar to a citation in literature. Combined with a data network and suitable access protocol, it can be used to fetch the resource referenced. This can then be saved, viewed, or displayed as part of the referencing document.

The most common type of hyperlink is the URL used in the World Wide Web. A web browser usually displays a hyperlink in some distinguishing way, e.g. in a different colour, font or style. A mouse pointer may also change into a hand motif to indicate a link. In most browsers, links are displayed in underlined blue text when not cached, but underlined purple text when cached. When the user activates the link (e.g. by clicking on it with the mouse) the browser will display the target of the link. If the target is not a html-file, depending on the file type and on the browser and its plug-ins, an other program may be activated to open the file.

The Google search engine uses PageRank, a measure of link popularity to determine which page should be ranked first. The more pages that have a hyperlink pointing to a page, the higher rank that page gets. It is actually slightly more complicated than that, see PageRank for more information. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypertext

Deep Link

Deep linking, on the World Wide Web, is the process of placing on a web page a hyperlink that points to a specific page or image within another website, as opposed to that website's main or home page. Such links are called deep links.

Some commercial websites object to other sites making deep links into their content, either because it bypasses advertising on their main pages or, like The Wall Street Journal, they charge users for permanently-valid links. Many critics charge that such sites simply want to establish policies that will "license" such links to the highest bidder. They argue that links are a fundamental part of "user-oriented" web browsing.

The technology behind the World Wide Web, the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), does not actually make any distinction between deep links and any other link—all links are conceptually equal. This is because the World Wide Web in itself does not have a concept of a "website." It is only because of the human user's need to group related web pages together that websites are conceptualized. Thus, the concept of deep linking—linking to pages other than the "home page" of the website.

Examples of deep linking to maps created on the fly can be found at the article Oakland, Illinois. The web addresses contain all the parameters of the maps. Sometimes this is not possible because a cache area (in this case, a shared script that generates an image map) is used to create the desired map through zooming and shifting, and there is no web address that directly gives the resulting map. -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_linking [May 2004]

Permalink [...]

Because links are so important to weblogs, most blogs have a way of archiving older entries and generating a static address for individual entries; this static link is referred to as a permalink. The latest headlines, with hyperlinks and summaries, are offered in weblogs in the RSS XML-format, to be read with a RSS feedreader. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weblog, May 2004

Link Popularity

In other words, the linker can impact the Google Pagerank of the linkee.


  1. From Memex to Hypertext: Vannevar Bush and the Mind's Machine - Vannevar Bush[Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    Memex, a computer that was never built, was described in 1945 by pioneer computer engineer Bush, and foreshadowed the principles and operations of today's personal computers. Bush's writings about Memex are collected here for the first time, interspersed with essays by historians and computer researchers. His work with analog computers may be becoming relevant again. No index. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.

  2. Hyper/Text/Theory - George P. Landow [Amazon US]

    Scholars of literature and philosophy confront some of the issues raised by interactive hypertext, the 11 essays covering nonlinearity, politics, and the new writing. Specific topics include the reader's narrative, closure and indeterminacy, liberation and complicity, and an experiment in hyperrhetoric. No index. Paper edition (unseen), $16.95. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or. --amazon.com

    In his widely acclaimed book Hypertext George P. Landow described a radically new information technology and its relationship to the work of such literary theorists as Jacques Derrida and Roland Barthes. Now Landow has brought together a distinguished group of authorities to explore more fully the implications of hypertextual reading for contemporary literary theory.

  3. Weaving the Web: The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web - Tim Berners-Lee [Amazon US]
    If you can read this review (and voice your opinion about his book on Amazon.com), you have Tim Berners-Lee to thank. When you've read his no-nonsense account of how he invented the World Wide Web, you'll want to thank him again, for the sheer coolness of his ideas. One day in 1980, Berners-Lee, an Oxford-trained computer consultant, got a random thought: "Suppose all the information stored on computers everywhere were linked?" So he created a system to give every "page" on a computer a standard address (now called a URL, or Universal Resource Locator), accessible via the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP), formatted with the HyperText Markup Language (HTML), and visible with the first browser, which did the trick of linking us all up. He may be the most self-effacing genius of the computer age, and his egalitarian mind is evident in the names he rejected for his invention: "I thought of Mine of Information, or MOI, but moi in French means 'me,' and that was too egocentric.... The Information Mine (TIM) was even more egocentric!" Also, a mine is a passive repository; the Web is something that grows inexorably from everyone's contributions. Berners-Lee fully credits the colorful characters who helped him get the bobsled of progress going--one colleague times his haircuts to match the solstices--but he's stubbornly independent-minded. His quest is to make the Web "a place where the whim of a human being and the reasoning of a machine coexist in an ideal, powerful mixture."
    Hard-core tech types may wish Berners-Lee had gone into deeper detail about the road ahead: the "boon and threat" of XML, free vs. commercial software, VRML 3-D imaging, and such. But he wants everyone in on the debate, so he wrote a brisk book that virtually anyone can understand. --Tim Appelo for amazon.com

  4. Mondo 2000 : A User's Guide to the New Edge [1 book, Amazon US]
    Cyberpunk, Virtual Reality, Wetware, Designer Aphrodisiacs, Artificial Life, Techno-Erotic Paganism, ... If you have read Mondo 2000 magazine before, then nothing in this book will be much of a surprise. In fact in 1998 this book is clearly retro. Still, to the new reader you will find much of the information interesting. The format is basically an A-Z of popular memes and cultural phenomena with a pseudo hypertext interface. High gloss and flashy. Suitable for a coffee table, but you might want to keep it on your reference shelf. Limited availability. Mentions Gilles Deleuze and Georges Bataille in bibliography. Bataille in the 'meat' section.

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