Introduction to Special Issue on Spatial Hypertext

Guest Editors: Frank Shipman, Jim Rosenberg


The field of spatial hypertext emerged from early efforts to visualize node-and-link hypertexts in the late 1980s. There were a few different systems by the end of the 1990s and an annual Workshop on Spatial Hypertext began in 2001.

These workshops brought together system builders creating new variations of spatial hypertext and authors pioneering new ways to communicate or construct artistic works. From the issues and discussions found in these workshops and their overlap with similar issues and discussions in other communities, the scope of the workshops was enlarged and the Symposium on Interactive Visual Information Collections and Activity (IVICA) was formed.

This special issue includes authors/papers selected from across the four Workshops on Spatial Hypertext and two IVICA Syposia held to date. David Kolb's paper "Other Spaces for Spatial Hypertext" extends his thoughts presented in the first two workshops about additional sources for inspiration and applications of spatial hypertext.

Mark Bernstein's "Shadows in the Cave" discusses how opportunities found in an analysis of traditional node-and-link hypertexts and prior spatial hypertexts led to Tinderbox's functionality.

Spatial hypertexts tend to be authored in stand-alone spatial hypertext systems like Tinderbox or the Visual Knowledge Builder. Jim Rosenberg's "Hypertext in the Open Air" is a call for embedding spatial hypertext capabilities into the infrastructure so they are available to all applications.

A study of use of spatial hypertext for organizing music based on memories and feelings is presented in Konstantinos Meintanis' "Expressing Personal Interpretations of Music Collections in Spatial Hypertext".

While spatial hypertexts have focused on expression of and interaction with emergent, unstructured ideas, Haowei Hsieh's "Supporting Visual Problem Solving in Spatial Hypertext" examines the design and use of a system for visually manipulating the content of structured data.

These papers present a breadth of activity ranging from conceptual analyses of spatial communication to system design and evaluations of particular applications. We thank the authors of the papers and the editors of JoDI, particularly Scott Phillips, for their contributions and efforts to make this special issue happen.