[unrev-II] DIRK, hypertext, and everything

From: Jack Park (jackpark@thinkalong.com)
Date: Wed Nov 07 2001 - 08:38:16 PST

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    Starting at http://www.memes.net (my morning fix!)
    I arrived at http://www.memes.net/index.php3?request=displaypage&NodeID=726
    from which I navigated to http://interconnected.org/notes/hypertext.shtml

    It turns out that interconnected.org appears to be run by a program called
    DIRK, which, it appears, was created by Matt Webb. I am copying a fragment
    of the last page here:

    "1. No text is complete ^
    There is no text that can be read without reference to other texts. A piece
    of text is a foam of metaphors and implications. Reading is filling this in.
    In difficult to understand texts, the references must be more explicit
    (footnotes), but if these are not enough the reader will look for context.
    In the situation of a page, references may be made by physical proximity.
    A very incomplete text is one replete with references.

    2. There is a whole graduation of links ^
    Links between texts run along a scale of implicit to explicit. Normal texts
    contain implicit links (or references, or metaphors); the register of the
    voice of the writing is an implicit link. Www links are the crudest form of
    explicit link. Other links made be made to paragraphs, entire documents, or
    as citations. The placing of a text (in physical/www space, or in time as a
    presentation) is an implicit link, or context.
    It could be argued that a single tract of text is a mush of ideas,
    implicitly linked by proximity.
    Social conventions are massively important in referencing.

    3. The node/arc model is insufficient ^
    The node/arc model says that a piece of text is a node, and a reference is
    a link. Links have no further attributes other than connecting two pieces
    of text. (The node/arc model also has a place in UI, or in people
    interactions, or in any kind of network -- it's a very powerful metaphor).
    The node/arc model says that a node is given extra definition by the nodes
    connected to it.
    This model only works for links that are forks or branches -- abrupt and
    explicit links. A text which builds a complex idea and implicitly
    references another text with this idea is more a slow forking of the flow.
    Texts can be closely links, or juxtaposed. Links are given context by the
    text they're in and have meaning.
    A different model could follow the reader who would explore textual links,
    following idea branches, as if flowing down a river.
    The www is the strongest adherent to the node/arc model, but the appearance
    of the web to work like this is reinforced by the people building it using
    this model internally. Really a single page could be seen as many many
    nodes and arcs, tightly bound, with links to other pages being very long
    arcs. That there aren't medium length arcs is an accident of www link design.
    The node/arc model also does not account for connections of more than one
    nodes; paths through the hypertext hopping from node to node. There are no
    supernode structures in this model. "

    Following all that, you will find out about "trails."

    Then, you go back to http://interconnected.org and begin following
    trails. Each page appears to represent a concept, but, there is nothing
    there except for a bunch of links with comments. Thus, a concept is
    described by its links. Each page also has some tools to add more links.

    While "playing" with DIRK, I was somewhat reminded of ScholOnto
    http://kmi.open.ac.uk/projects/scholonto/ which allows you to declare typed
    links between concepts.

    What's not clear is whether DIRK is an open source project.


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