from Text to Expertext

Roy Rada

Department of Computer Science
Washington State University
Pullman, WA 99164
email: rada@eecs.wsu.edu
Copyright (C) Roy Rada


[motivation]Efforts to exploit technology so as to add extra dimensions to text have occurred throughout history, but the electronic computer has opened new vistas. The modern history of hypertext begins with the text `As We May Think' which describes an analogue computer that allowed individuals to record and follow links among documents. The declining costs of digital computing along with the information explosion necessitate a reassessment of the principles and systems which may be united to serve the information age. In particular, the links within a document, among people, and among documents must come together. The disciplines of human-computer interaction, computer-supported collaborative work, information storage and retrieval, and artificial intelligence should complement one another in the new discipline that studies hypertext.

[preview]This book includes chapters on
1. Text
2. Small-volume Hypertext
3. Large-volume Hypertext
4. Collaborative Hypertext, and
5. Intelligent Hypertext.

The structure and function are introduced in Chapter 1 on Text, while Chapter 2 on Small-Volume Hypertext or Microtext examines links within a single document. Chapter 3 illustrates how a Large-Volume Hypertext or Macrotext system supports searching across a massive document database. How multiple users manipulate text is discussed in Chapter 4 on Collaborative Hypertext or Grouptext, after which Chapter 5 on Intelligent Hypertext or Expertext shows how knowledge or expertise can guide users of hypertext.

[Text and Microtext]Psychological models of reading and writing are presented in Chapter 1 on Text, where the structure of a traditional document and word-processing software are described. A document may be abstractly represented as a network of concepts, and how this network within a single document may be represented and browsed is the focus of Chapter 2, Microtext. To make Microtext readily available, microtext systems are typically easy to use and run on personal computers.

[Macrotext and Grouptext]To facilitate the handling of massive document collections, institutions collect and provide access to the documents. A Macrotext system may store tens of millions of documents and principally supports search. After a document is found, browsing or reading is performed on paper or with a Microtext system. Human-human, as well as human-computer communication, must be supported by a Grouptext system rather than by a Macrotext system. Collaborative manipulation of a few documents by a few people is discussed in Chapter 4, on Grouptext

[Expertext]The major problem with microtext, macrotext, and grouptext is that in dealing with text that contains many links people become disoriented. Expert guidance in the form of Expertext may lessen the disorientation. Instilling life into document systems, by adding procedures which will respond to different users in different ways, one has a greater chance of creating documents which will succeed in influencing others. The combination of expert system and hypertext system features increases the utility of each system.

[what_is_missing?]Since this book focuses on conceptual structures and functions, chapters on hypermedia and hardware are missing. A chapter on hypermedia would further examine the role of audio and video, stating for instance, that not only is animation important but also that three-dimensional animation should be used. Rapid three-dimensional animation, however, requires massive computational power. Special hardware is needed to support hypermedia; in a hardware chapter, topics, such as high-density television and optical disks, would be covered.

[how_this_book_was_written]This book was written with the help of a special computer system for multiple authors. Students from classes at George Washington University and University of Liverpool contributed to the book through the computer system. Additionally, the system supported a model of a document as a network whose nodes are labeled with semantically meaningful terms and whose edges point to paragraphs. This book was produced by a traversal of the network.

[audience]This book was written for students and practitioners of information science. Exercises and references are provided. Anyone interested in combining text and high technology will benefit from this book. Text is synonymous with document and includes personal letters, novels, computer programs, medical records, ..., legal contracts everyone needs text.

[obtaining a hypertext version]Book Available in Hypertext This book has been converted into the popular hypertext systems Guide and HyperTies. You may have these electronic versions of the book and experience hypertext directly. You may have the Guide version for either a machine that supports MS-DOS or MacIntosh operating systems, while the HyperTies version is available for just MS-DOS. You will not be able to create your own Guide or HyperTies documents with this software but only to read, browse, and search this textbook. You should write to either Roy Rada, Department of Computer Science, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3BX or Roy Rada, 724 Corona Street, Denver, Colorado 80218 and specify whether you want this book in Guide (MS-DOS or MacIntosh) this book in HyperTies.