Back to the Future: Bringing Original Hypermedia and Cross-Media Concepts to Modern Desktop Environments

Over the last few decades, we have seen massive improvements in computing power, but nevertheless we still rely on digital documents and file systems that were originally created by mimicking the characteristics of physical storage media with all its limitations. This is quite surprising given that even before the existence of the computer, Information Science visionaries such as Vannevar Bush described more powerful information management solutions. We therefore aim to improve the way information is managed in modern desktop environments by embedding a hypermedia engine offering rich hypermedia and cross-media concepts at the level of an operating system. We discuss the resource-selector-link (RSL) hypermedia metamodel as a candidate for realising such a general hypermedia engine and highlight its flexibility based on a number of domain-specific applications that have been developed over the last two decades. The underlying content repository will no longer rely on monolithic files, but rather contain a user's data in the form of content fragments, such as snippets of text or images, which are structurally linked to form the corresponding documents, and can be reused in other documents or even shared across computers. By increasing the scope to a system-wide hypermedia engine, we have to deal with fundamental challenges related to granularity, interoperability or context resolving. We strongly believe that computing technology has evolved enough to revisit and address these challenges, laying the foundation for a wide range of innovative use cases for efficiently managing cross-media content in modern desktop environments.
Publication Reference
Signer, B., Roels, R., van Barlingen, R. and Willems, B.: "Back to the Future: Bringing Original Hypermedia and Cross-Media Concepts to Modern Desktop Environments", Proceedings of Hypertext 2021, 32nd ACM Conference on Hypertext and Social Media, Virtual Event, August 2021