A Multi-Channel Infrastructure for Presenting Nonlinear Hypermedia

Abstract

While hypermedia is usually presented as a way to offer content in a nonlinear manner, hypermedia structure tends to reinforce the assumption that reading is basically a linear process. Link structures provide a means by which the reader may choose different paths to traverse; but each of these paths is fundamentally linear, revealed through either a block of text or a well-defined chain of links. While there are experiences that get beyond such linear constraints, such as driving a car, it is very hard to capture this kind of non-linearity, characterized by multiple sources of stimuli competing for attention, in a hypermedia document. This paper presents a multi-channel document infrastructure that provides a means by which all such sources of attention are presented on a single “page” (i.e., a display with which the reader interacts) and move between background and foreground in response to the activities of the reader. The infrastructure thus controls the presentation of content with respect to four dimensions: visual, audio, interaction support, and rhythm.