“Text” as a medium was generally listed linearly in presentation media before the times of the world wide web. This linearity meant that text had to be read similar to a papyrus-roll or in a book “page by page” in sequence. In extensive texts that went on for several hundred pages, this linearity was criticized because such a text consisted of many connected parts that were scattered across the text. These are hardly connected in plain text, but can be recognized once it was read from cover to cover. In 1965, Ted Nelson had the idea of creating a non-linear knowledge database of unlimited size. His visions are the foundation of today’s hypertext research. When the desire emerged to link individual hypertext projects worldwide, in the early nineties, the world wide web was born. Nowadays hypertext is strictly utilized on computers, since they fulfill the requirements excellently. Hypertext is often created in HTML, hypertext markup language.


In principle, highly structured books contain all the characteristics that are also found in hypertext: hierarchical structures (chapter & subchapter), linking elements (cross-references), and different approaches to information (contents page, indices). The difference lies in the presentation. Despite its “hypertext properties” on the outside, a book has to be worked through linearly page by page. Hypertext, which is presented on the screen, breaks this linearity and allows navigation by smaller, linked bits of information. It therefore suggests that you do not have to read it from cover to cover. Hypertext is organized in such a wise that the information is fragmented into individual units, which is then intelligently networked.

Hypertext, hypermedia, and multimedia[edit]

In addition to pure information, hypertext also includes entertainment. This is reflected mostly in visual media, such as images or videos. Therefore, hypertext was developed into “hypermedia.” Hypermedia is distinguished from multimedia because multimedia is just “a lot of media at the same time.” Hypermedia on the other hand means “a lot of media, but structured similar to hypertext.” The prefix “hyper” stands for the particular way of dividing information and connecting it sensibly. This is an attempt to avoid the over-stimulation generated by multimedia.