Eastgate Systems      Serious Hypertext


A Neighborhood establishes an association among nodes through proximity, shared ornament, or common navigational landmarks. Unvarying thumbtabs, a navigation bar, or a miniature site map can all inform readers that the lexia in which they appear are "close" in some planned way. Just as a prominent church spire shows a walker that two spots separated by long, winding streets are still in the same neighborhood [53], deliberate display of commonality in a hypertext can express relationships that individual links might not emphasize [7]. (Rosenberg's episodes [66] are closely related to our Neighborhoods; "neighborhoods" emphasizes the presence of patterns of meaning in the hypertext while "episode" places greater emphasis on the experience these structures create in the reader's perception. See also Rossi's Navigational Contexts pattern[67])

For example, Nielsen has described the inherent conflict in large Web sites between establishing the identify of a particular hypertext and the identity of the site itself [63]. If each page of a Web site is separately designed and optimized for its own purposes, the site as a whole may lose its coherent identity and its brand name may be obscured. As a solution, Nielsen proposes adopting a uniform navigational frame or subsite as a Neighborhood pattern that organizes the collective site, adding layers of incremental navigational ornament to subsites as needed to create subsidiary identities.

Visual motifs often reinforce the identity of Neighborhoods in order to establish organizational context or to call attention to relationships among concepts. When Musée d'Orsay: Visite Virtuelle [15] adopts the structure of the museum to shape the hypertext, it effectively echoes subtle issues of history, historiography, and politics that have shaped both the composition and presentation of the national art collection. Millet leads to Courbet and on to Manet; Courbet's contemporary Couture, standing outside this tradition, hangs across the allée centrale rather than in the adjacent room. The use of inherited ornament and navigational apparatus to identify and situate a piece of a hypertext as a component of a larger structure traces back to HyperCard backgrounds [5] and HDM [31].

In VIKI [55] and Web Squirrel [10], spatial proximity is used less to establish Montage than to define spatial Neighborhoods that represent informal relationships among elements.


Split/Join The Split/Join pattern knits two or more sequences together. Split/Join is indispensable to interactive narratives in which the reader's intervention changes the course of events. If each decision changes everything that happens subsequently, authors cannot allow the reader to make many decisions while keeping the work within manageable bounds[14]. Splits permit the narrative to depend on the reader's choice for a limited span, later returning the reader (at least temporarily) to a central core. (By recording state information, the author may design subsequently-encountered sequences to split in consequence of an early choice; these splits, too, will usually be reconciled by a join.)

The Rashomon pattern [46] embeds a split-join within a cycle. The split/join effectively breaks the cycle, as readers explore different splits during each recurrent exploration, yet the cycle remains a prominent frame that provides context for each strand. Sarah Smith's King of Space [70] uses a three-way split at the end of its entrance sequence to explore the way casual choices may involve the reader in acts she would never sanction. The split appears trivial and game-like when first encountered, but becomes morally meaningful only after the reader has explored alternative paths.

Overviews and tours [76][27] are examples of Split/Join where the rhetorical intent of each path is similar, but one side of the split is more detailed than the other. Writers typically offer overviews and tours as a service, but Split/Join need not be purely utilitarian. In Moulthrop's Move, for example, the hypertext offers a Split; the hypertext responds ironically to the reader's apparent motivation instead of responding directly to the link's overt message [59], in a style later popularized by the Web magazine Suck. Hypertext may resist; it need not merely serve the reader's whims.

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