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Index
Glossary
























Table of Contents
Index
Glossary
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Next: Communication criteria for electronic Up: Electronic publishing Previous: Flexibility

Non-linearity

The electronic media provide us with a distributed storage environment, which allows for a flexible consultation of publication units. On paper, a linear, essay-like one-dimensional presentation of the text is natural: the readers is supposed to begin at the top of the first page and follow the line of the article until the bottom of the final page. The electronic media allow for a non-linear, hypertext presentation.2.48 According to [Conklin, 1987, p.36]:

People [...] think in terms of ideas, facts and evidence. Hypertext, via the notion of nodes as individual expressions of ideas, provides a vehicle which respects this way of thinking and working.

If the structure of an article and of a larger repository of knowledge is non-linear, it can be organised and presented in such a way that the clarity is enhanced and navigation is facilitated.2.49 However, hypertext has a double-edged impact on the clarity of the representation of information. On the one hand, the representation can reflect the structure of the information more closely, and thereby more clearly, if the information is non-linear. On the other hand, the non-linear representation can lead to disorientation, and an increase of the `cognitive load', as the reader has to make an additional effort to know where he is and how to get to the desired location. Therefore, the requirement of clarity is even more crucial in a non-linear presentation than in a linear presentation.

Thus, hypertext can provide a tool for the presentation of information in scientific articles, provided that an adequate structure is devised for the organisation of the information. In this thesis, we develop a model for a systematic non-linear structure for scientific articles.  



Next: Communication criteria for electronic Up: Electronic publishing Previous: Flexibility