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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The application of hypertext to archives Taylor, Blair


The thesis explores whether hypertext, a non-linear, associative way of structuring information using computer programs, could be implemented in an archival information system. It includes a summary of the development and nature of hypertext, a discussion of archival information systems and the needs of users regarding information retrieval, and a discussion of how the capacities of hypertext can be applied to archival retrieval systems and how a possible hypertext retrieval system could be structured. Additionally, aspects of a hypothetical hypertext information system are presented to illustrate how archival information could be organized using hypertext and how that information could be browsed and retrieved. There are both benefits and disadvantages to implementing a hypertext archival retrieval system. The advantages of such a system include the following: the hierarchical structure of information about archives is well suited to being represented in hypertext; movement throughout the hierarchical structures is as simple as following links between the records; records could have multiple links to other records; information could be structured in multiple ways simultaneously; associative browsing of the information by following the links between the records could be possible; and a variety of search options are possible that would allow users to access the information in the hypertext in a variety of ways. The disadvantages of implementing a hypertext archival information system are: it might be too time consuming to create the hypertext; movement throughout the hypertext network would rely on links that were created by the archivist, so navigation would only be as good or bad as the established links; and the associational, non-linear structure of hypertext might not be the most effective or efficient way to retrieve archival information. Despite some of the disadvantages and technical difficulties of hypertext, it could be successfully implemented in an archival retrieval system. The configuration and functions of such a system could vary widely, and would depend on the requirements of the archives.

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