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Based on the topics found in the literature for the past ten years, it is possible to distinguish certain research threads within the hypertext field as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Current research threads
The Linking research thread [References] was concerned with the limitations of the node-link model. Based on the limitations of the node-link model researchers identified the need for systems that provided structure. This research thread in conjunction with the Argumentation systems evolved into what Figure 1 labels as the Structure research thread.
Argumentation systems [References] led research to the development of systems that provided structure templates to be filled by the user. Also the allowed the user to specify and develop new structures for the information.
The Structure thread [References] emerges from the lessons learned by the linking and the argumentation research threads as a result of the need for structure. Nevertheless, prescriptive structure presented problems because it forced users to commit to certain structure too early in the process. As the task was developed, the strategies for structuring changed. This research evolved into the Spatial hypertext thread as researchers realize that humans preferred to use a more flexible or lightweight structure.
The Spatial research thread [References] uses the spatial properties of objects in the screen in order to induce structure. This a more natural way for humans to represent and use structure and while it allows for different levels of formalization the system is still capable of recognizing the spatial structure in a automatic fashion. Spatial hypertext systems are being recognized more and more as a good solution
The Rhetorics of Hypertext research thread [References] is concerned not as much with the hypertext systems but with the hypertext itself. Nevertheless this research is close to the Structure and Spatial threads since it points out to the construction of structure in the mind of the user. This research also points the need of systems that provide flexible structure.
The Distributed Hypertext & Collaborative Hypertext research thread[References] is concerned with the systems capable of being distributed and typically this research is also concerned with allowing collaboration between different users. This research thread united with the Open Hypertext research thread into the Hyperbase research thread.
Open Hypertext (or link services) [References]. This research comprehend the first approaches to provide an open hypertext capable of be integrated with different application.
Hyperbase research thread [References] is an evolution of the Distributed Hypertext & Collaborative Hypertext and the Open Hypertext research threads. Its concern is the use of a database to store both, the information or contents and the meta-information or structure. As researchers realize that a closer integration with the operating systems was desirable, this thread evolved into the Hyperbased Operating Systems research thread (named in Figure 1 as Hyperbased & Open, Distributed, Collaborative HT).
The Versioning [References] research thread starts as part of the Hyperbase research thread. It specializes in the versioning requirements of hypertext systems. As it evolves it includes the concepts of Open Hypertext and Hyperbased Operating Systems.
The Structural Programming [References] is the evolution of the Hyperbased Operating Systems thread. It elevates structure to a first class object. Due to the fact that researchers in this area recognize the usefulness of Spatial hypertext the two research threads are getting closer now.
Time-based hypertext [References] is concerned with the coordination and control of the whole presentation of a hyperdocument.
Time-based media [References] is concerned with the inclusion of time-based media in hyperdocuments, for instance audio and video. Because this kind of media has different aesthetics, it imposes a different rhetoric in the whole hyperdocument. This research thread while is more specialized it is closely related with the Time-based hypertext research thread.
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