Traditional Hypertext, ‘Social Hypertext’, and Modern Walden Pathways.

25th ACM Conference on Hypertext and Social Media, 1–4 Sep 2014, Santiago, Chile.

25th ACM Conference on Hypertext and Social Media, 1–4 Sep 2014, Santiago, Chile.

Last years Hypertext was dominated by recommender systems, this year it was the social Web. This focus on social interconnectedness got me to thinking about just what we mean when we discuss hypertext and refer to linking.

Previously hypertext was all about the machinery of the links and how we could use this machinery in new and interesting ways. How we could read differently, how we could perform art differently, how we could interact differently. It seems to me that with the advent of the Web and its dominance in terms of the platform, the work around the mechanics has moved to adaptation and models of the user, but the interesting thing is that the move to the social Web, as exemplified at HT2014, shares more with the old days of hypertext than one might think.

When I looked back through my notes and thought more on the presentations that where delivered, it became clear that if you remove the focus on the technical, the focus on linking is still there. One could think of this as linking by analysis (or some such). The work was to a great extent about the relationships, complex relationships, people exhibited in their behaviours on social media and from this understanding generate resources. The terminologies change, I imagine because the researchers of today have not looked back far enough to make links between traditional hypertext and social hypertext.

Let me wind up by giving an example. The work by Yahoo! on creating recommended real world routes based on the emotion that route conveys built from a series of Flickr images, classified by users and tags, and then suggested as a route for others, is in traditional hypertext terms a Walden Pathway.

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