VIKI: Spatial Hypertext Supporting Emergent Structure

Catherine C. Marshall and Frank M. Shipman III

Xerox PARC
3333 Coyote Hill Road
Palo Alto, CA 94304
E-mail: {marshall, shipman}


The emergent nature of structure is a crucial, but often ignored, constraint on authoring hypertexts. VIKI is a spatial hypertext system that supports the emergent qualities of structure and the abstractions that guide its creation. We have found that a visual/spatial metaphor for hypertext allows people to express the nuances of structure, especially ambiguous, partial, or emerging structure, more easily. VIKI supports interpretation of a collected body of materials, a task that becomes increasingly important with the availability of on-line information sources. The tool's data model includes semi-structured objects, collections that provide the basis for spatial navigation, and object composites, all of which may evolve into types. A spatial parser supports this evolution and enhances user interaction with changing, visually apparent organizations.

KEYWORDS: Spatial hypertext, emergent structure, interpretation, visual structure recognition, composites.