Hypertext to Web 2.0: A journey of vision, ridicule & innovation

4:00pm 17 September 2010

Lesley Gardner
Lesley Gardner MNZCS ITCP

Senior Lecturer, University of Auckland

From the middle of last century we have observed and marveled at the unfolding revolution of hypertext, hypermedia and World Wide Web.

The visionaries who facilitated this process have been ridiculed, sidelined and finally recognised as the designers of one of the most significant computing contributions to modern society. Hypertext is the non-linear storage and navigation of information held in a web like environment. It allows the designer to store information in nodes and develop links between nodes by association, in doing so creates a rich network or graph of information where the relationships and retrieval mechanisms are not governed by traditional two dimensional retrieval mechanisms but by navigation and links.

Much excitement in the 1980’s occurred around such single seat hypermedia systems which were seen as great vehicles for, library information, e.g. legal cases, education tools and manuals, where the data could be distributed via the new and novel CDROM media this was an enormous step forward. As frequently occurs interest was short lived, mainly due to the complexity of construction and use of the available hypermedia tools was limited. Apple and IBM both entered the market place with hypermedia systems, HyperCard and LinkWay.

Towards the end of the 1980’s a proposal by Tim Berners-Lee to create a document access system using some aspects of hypertext and the internet rekindled further interest in this field. From initial prototypes, constructed by Berners-Lee, the first browser, Mosaic was developed by (NCSA) and distributed for non commercial use free of charge.

Such openly available systems facilitated the emergence of a new way of conducting business, by utilizing contemporary internet mediated services primarily through the WWW. Such interest led to a range of WWW browsers being developed and to a gold rush by business to exploit the novel technology.

This led to the 2000’s dot com boom, issues with the speed of networks and the complexity of web servers eventually lead to the dot com crash which sent shares in computing companies and Telcos reeling. In hindsight this failure focused on both technological issues, and the rush of new “cottage industry” entrants to the market many of whom did not have a good understanding of computing. From this, observers have noted the potential for changes to social interaction, electronic commerce and business operations.

Over time these predicted changes (and revenue generation) have eventuated as technology and speed have facilitated enterprises to successfully engage with WWW, Web 2.0 and 3.0 environments.

Society has embraced the WWW and we observe new products and areas of application in e-governance, e-democracy, social networking and changes to working practices.

This presentation focuses on this long and colourful history and looks to explore the future of new innovation and phenomenon which are emerging in terms of navigation, access to information, trust and visibility.

About Dr Lesley Gardner

Dr. Lesley A. Gardner is a Senior Lecturer in the Dept of Information Systems and Operations Management at the University of Auckland.

She wrote her PhD on the application of hypermedia tools to environmental issues and has since research in this and various related fields.