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Hypertext on the Web

Hypertext as a communications medium is almost an afterthought on the web today. Hypertext today consists of sidebars, navbars, and links to corporate web sites.

The real promise of hypertext is to provide more information about what you are reading. Consider the line “the meek shall inherit the earth.” When reading this line, I might want to know:

- that this is a quote from the King James version of the Bible, Psalms 37:11.

- the meaning of the word “meek”

- about inheritance laws

- the circumference and mass of the earth

- the earliest recorded use of the word “shall”

Too much to ask? Probably. Why? As an author linking to this stuff, I’d have to know all this stuff beforehand…or at least know where to find it. That’s a lot of work. No wonder we ended up with sidebars and shallow links to other pages.

The Web is here today…hypertext will have to wait some more.