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Rethinking Hypermedia: The Microcosm Approach is essentially the story of the Microcosm hypermedia research and development project that started in the late 1980's and from which has emerged a philosophy that re-examines the whole concept of hypermedia and its role in the evolution of multimedia information systems. The book presents the complete story of Microcosm to date. It sets the development of Microcosm in the context of the history of the subject from which it evolved, as well as the developments in the wider world of technology over the last two decades including personal computing, high-speed communications, and the growth of the Internet. These all lead us towards a world of global integrated information environments: the publishing revolution of the 20th century, in principle making vast amounts of information available to anybody anywhere in the world.
Rethinking Hypermedia: The Microcosm Approach explains the role that open hypermedia systems and link services will play in the integrated information environments of the future. It considers issues such as authoring, legacy systems and data integrity issues, and looks beyond the simple hypertext model provided in the World Wide Web and other systems today to the world of intelligent information processing agents that will help us deal with the problems of information overload and maintenance.
Rethinking Hypermedia: The Microcosm Approach will be of interest to all those who are involved in designing, implementing and maintaining hypermedia systems such as the World Wide Web by setting the groundwork for producing a system that is both easy to use and easy to maintain. Rethinking Hypermedia: The Microcosm Approach is essential reading for anyone involved in the provision of online information.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

1. Motivations

Abstract
This book is essentially the story of a hypermedia research and development project that started in the late 1980s and from which has emerged a philosophy that reexamines the whole concept of hypermedia and its role in the evolution of multimedia information systems. It is the story of Microcosm, which was the name given to the first experimental prototype developed as part of this project and which has somehow stuck, to become the name of the project as a whole as well as the philosophy it embodies.
Wendy Hall, Hugh Davis, Gerard Hutchings

2. A Brief History of Hypermedia

Abstract
In Chapter 1, we discussed the motivations that led us to start building Microcosm. However, clearly this work was very much influenced by projects being undertaken by other research groups and by hypermedia developments in the commercial world. In this chapter we shall attempt to set our work in the context of the history of hypermedia system development in general.
Wendy Hall, Hugh Davis, Gerard Hutchings

3. Implementing Open Hypermedia: Microcosm

Abstract
In Chapter 2 we examined the problems with previous generations of hypermedia systems, and defined the properties of a true open hypermedia system. This analysis resulted in certain constraints on our design for Microcosm, which were discussed briefly in Chapter 1 but which are worth re-visiting before we look at the design in detail—adhering to these principles led us to create a system which was fundamentally different from most others.
Wendy Hall, Hugh Davis, Gerard Hutchings

4. Making Open Hypermedia Work

Abstract
The previous chapter describes the fundamental design principles of Microcosm. However, an implementation of this basic model does not on its own demonstrate the full potential of the open hypermedia approach. In order to add hypertext functionality to the existing working environment, a number of further utilities are required. It is necessary to enable third party applications to benefit from the underlying link service, and full support for multimedia data types is required (i.e. links into and out of temporal media).
Wendy Hall, Hugh Davis, Gerard Hutchings

5. Authoring with Open Hypermedia

Abstract
The facilities offered by an open hypermedia system like Microcosm are very powerful. However, they require a different approach to authoring from that with which most people are familiar. There are effectively two separate but concurrent processes which need to occur during the authoring process:
  • Building a resource-base;
  • Authoring within the resource-base.
Wendy Hall, Hugh Davis, Gerard Hutchings

6. Working with the Web and Distributed Systems

Abstract
Although the Microcosm system was originally designed as a peer-to-peer distributed architecture, the commercial version of the product has not yet implemented the original design in this respect. The original problem was that PC-based systems in the late 1980s did not implement support for communication with processes running on other PCs. Consequently the commercial version only implements distribution in the sense that the data resources may be distributed. Initially this was possible using network file systems, and later versions have implemented distribution over a wide area network using URLs and standard TCP/IP network protocols such as http and ftp. However, research has continued in the production of distributed Microcosm, and inevitably, due to the popularity of the World Wide Web, much of this research has been centred on using the WEB infrastructure. This chapter describes some of this research and the system prototypes that have resulted.
Wendy Hall, Hugh Davis, Gerard Hutchings

7. The Future

Abstract
An open hypermedia system like Microcosm has an intrinsically different feel from closed hypermedia systems. In Microcosm, the onus can be on the user to interrogate the system for more information rather than the system announcing the existence of more information about a particular subject. The infinitely more flexible model of open systems allows us to customize the hypertext environment by creating links dynamically, based on database or other information query tools for example. We can also apply links to other desktop information processing tools and we can define processes to automatically generate links, which significantly eases the authoring effort and makes it possible to build very large systems.
Wendy Hall, Hugh Davis, Gerard Hutchings

Backmatter

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