The Society of Text

This was one of the many books in my unofficial ‘hypertext library starter kit‘. It was strange for me to peruse  a hypertext book from 1989, a (just about) pre-web era: authors used the terms ‘net’ and ‘web’ in a very different way, and articles included reference to, for example, continuing debates about the value of bi-directional links.

It offers a wide range of papers, some more and some less relevant after twenty years. I especially enjoyed two, the first of which was From database to hypertext via electronic publishing, a well-written and informative article on preparing information for different forms of publication. It sums up with a set of insights including the memorable ‘Hypertext is like cayenne pepper’ (a little goes a long way) and  some nice insights into the impact of medium, e.g. a paper book vs its hypertext version. I also enjoyed Hand-crafted hypertext, which presents the results of an attempt to hypertextify six Hypertext ’87 papers (using Hypercard, IRIS and KMS). The idea was to compare the hypertext systems, and although of course the systems themselves are now largely defunct, the approach and the write-up are lovely.

(Available on Amazon)


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