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Difference Between Hypertext and Hypermedia

Hypertext is text visible on the computer screen or any sort of electronic device while hypermedia evolved as an extension of the hypertext and multimedia...


Hypertext is a term coined by Ted Nelson around 1965. Hypertext is text visible on the computer screen or any sort of electronic device. It is the first thing that users usually see and can immediately access. 

Hypertext gathers together information in the form of nodes, which are then associated together by means of links. Hypertext pages are commonly interconnected via hyperlinks that are easily activated by means of a mouse click or by just touching the screen.

Hypermedia evolved as an extension of the hypertext and multimedia. It is based on the concept of hypertext that involves nodes and links in the structuring of information in the whole application. 

As a non-linear multimedia content, hypermedia allows end-users to go through the entire multimedia application by facilitating access in an associative manner. In other words, the end-users are allowed to think and are empowered to interrelate with the texts, images and sounds contained in the entire multimedia application.

At the present, the most modern hypermedia implementation is a new form of electronic encyclopedia. With this instrument, end-users may browse through and follow one after another interrelated links via articles, videotapes, illustrations, films, texts and more. 

Structural Elements of Hypermedia Programs: 

Nodes - are the most basic unit of information in hypermedia programs. These may involve text fields, visual images, sound bites and others.

Links - are used to connect nodes of information within the hypermedia application. 
Links  maybe structured by the software designer as linear or open-ended. For example, by using links, two end-users may go through the knowledge base program in entirely different manners, but at the same time, reaching the same end point.

Buttons - are mainly the instruments which activate links. Buttons can be graphically seen by end-users as buttons, icons or knobs, which are activated by clicking a mouse on them. However, anything that can be seen on the screen maybe used as buttons. Even simple text fields maybe outlined by the software designer to serve as buttons.

Definition of Interactivity in Hypermedia Applications

Interactivity can be defined as the communication process between end-users and computer software in any type of multimedia material. An interactive application means end users are empowered to interrelate with text fields, graphics, video sounds, to react and think as they wish as they go through the entire hypermedia content. The level of interactivity should always be defined before developing any interactive material.

Four Levels of Interactivity

Level 0 - is none other than a straightforward presentation of information. It is just limited to "electronic page turning" and no interactivity takes place between end-users and the content. It is commonly utilized for short introductions, explanations or instructions.

Level 1 - is the first level of interactivity. Information is displayed on the hypermedia application and usually the end-user or learner is prompted to answer to a question related to the content being viewed. Feedback is restricted to showing the correct answer to the 
question. This type of interactivity is utilized for vocabulary drills and practice exercises.

Level 2 - involves two subcategories:
     a. review of old instruction - in this context, when end users provide the wrong reply to a specific question, they are branched back to the former material. An approach which
 may impede end-users to gain knowledge as to the reason why they made the incorrect reply.
     b. branching to new material - this grants the software designer to custom-design responses to the type of errors end-users may commit. In this context, instruction, motivation, practice-feedback, over-all evaluation may all be involved. Most Computer Based Training (CBT) courses fall into this level.

Level 3 - in this level, the answer of end-users to a question or a series of stimulus points out what the next level of instruction will be. For instance, wrong answers may each link to a diverse remediation frame, in response to the type of mistake end-users committed, which may involve other texts, video segments or sound narration. On the other hand, correct answers may permit end-users to go through the material quickly. This final level of interactivity permits various kinds of simulation and gaming exercises. Nowadays, the most modern hypermedia applications support this type of interactivity.

As a conclusion, almost five decades after the term 'multimedia' was coined by singer and artist Bob Goldstein to promote his "Lightworks of L'Oursin" show at Southampton,  multimedia has become one of the driving forces of every aspect of  daily life, starting from the way how people conceive social relationships, entertainment and arts, culture, politics, education and learning procedures.

 Thus, where there is a need to promote a culture of information and new skills, it is of primary importance to make use of multimedia's effective power to stimulate awareness, participation and capabilities, bearing in mind that the organizational aspect of communication programmes and its implementation should primarily focus on the accessibility of the content to target users.

In  the field of development communication, professionals and software designers should join their forces to generate a material that is elucidating, interesting and compelling, but, at the same time, simple, manageable and with the appropriate amount of user control. Information should always be up to date, retrievable, can be easily accessed, and should always respect the language currently utilized and the culture in which target users belong.

 . Vernon, T.L. (n.a). Hypermedia and Interactivity for Instruction
 .  Wikipedia. (2014). Hypertext


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