A personal view of Open Hypermedia Systems

Andrew Pam


Position Paper for 3rd Workshop on Open Hypermedia Systems

Held in conjunction with Hypertext '97
Southampton, England, April 6-11, 1997


This position paper is also intended to be an example of a hypertext document scenario. Since we do not yet have a transclusion facility within HTML, the format in which this paper is written, I will rely heavily on the navigational hyperlinks that are available in HTML and request the reader's indulgence in following the links to avoid having to manually include the referenced material in this document, which would defeat the purpose. (Example: I have proposed such a transclusion facility as an Internet Draft).

Let me first begin with a personal introduction explaining my background in hypermedia and association with Ted Nelson's Xanadu, from the introduction to my paper "Where World Wide Web Went Wrong" (the first paper given at the inaugural Asia-Pacific WWW conference in 1995).

The Xanadu position

The Xanadu vision for open hypermedia is expressed most fully in Ted's book "Literary Machines", but the Bill of Information Rights in the Xanadu Publishing Universe serves as a good summary, or Ted's 1970s cartoon "A Dream for Irving Snerd". The requirements are formally expressed in the answer to question 2 of the Xanadu FAQ and an example scenario provided in "Xanadu: A Scenario".

Recently, unaware until now of the Open Hypermedia Systems workshops, Ted has begun work on an Open Structure for Media Inter-Connection which I believe shares many of the same goals as these workshops.

Other personal scenarios

I am also a committee member of the Hyper-G Consortium which advises HyperWave development.

I retain all my incoming and outgoing email, and have done so for some years now with the intention of eventually being able to use a hypermedia system to handle email. I have recently begun writing software which inserts email into a HyperWave server (already in experimental use).

Ted intends to make his seminal hypermedia book Literary Machines available online as soon as a hypermedia system is available which supports his transcopyright and micropayment proposals explained in "Xanadu: The Information Future".

My partner Katherine Phelps is a multimedia artist and PhD candidate who runs Glass Wings, an online publishing organisation dedicated to promoting the use of hypermedia in art and art as an application for hypermedia systems. Katherine also teaches a class in Writing for Multimedia at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and has students create hypermedia works on our HyperWave server as part of the course requirements (an Apache web server was used in previous years).

I am a system administrator for Cinemedia which is developing a major Digital Media Library ultimately planned to contain tens of thousands of videos available for online access. Two hundred hours of MPEG-2 video are already available to schools and universities across the state of Victoria during the initial trial. Victoria is the first state in the world to have a government Minister for Multimedia.

I also assist RMIT students working on projects at the RMIT Studio Annexe (where my office is physically located), a collaboration between Cinemedia and RMIT exposing students to our computing facilities and hypermedia expertise. One such project with which I am involved is Flight of Ducks by Simon Pockley, which recently won the 1996 Australian Teachers of Media award for Best Australian On-line Production and the State Premiers Gold Award for Best Australian Multimedia Product. This project also raises a number of interesting issues about hypermedia, online document preservation, and document metadata.


I intend to represent and discuss each of these projects at the workshop and hope to be able to develop more detailed papers on the OHS requirements and implications of some of these scenarios more fully in future.