Technologies of Humanism >
Haipa: A Tool for Collaborative Hypertext Creation
Haipa is a prototype tool that lets multiple users collaborate on HTML document creation and annotation. Users can add new links and text to an existing HTML document, right within their web browser.
Haipa was my final project for Technologies of Humanism.
Imagine a class. The assignment for this week is to read a particular essay found on the web, to be discussed in the next class meeting. Normally, the students would read the essay, online or printed out. They would take notes on various passages, in notebooks or on printouts. They might find other information on the web related to the essay. They could write down the URLs of those related sites and mention them in the next class meeting, or email them to each other.
What if the students used Haipa? Since they can now modify the HTML file for the essay, they could collaborate on building a rich web of information right within the original document.
- A student can add comments and questions directly to the HTML file of the essay. So he can add comments like "This statement about vicissitudes of human intention fits nicely with Bruner's article. - Roy", right next to the relevant passage.
- If another student finds a website that is related to the essay, she can select some part of the essay, such as "vicissitudes of human intention", and turn it into a link to the related website, such as a webpage containing Bruner's article.
- The student creating a new link can also add a comment for the link, explaining why she made that link, such as "This is a related article on human desires, written by Bruner. - Fay". This comment can later be seen by other students when they view the essay with a web browser. When the mouse pointer is placed on top of the link, the comment will appear in an online help balloon. This way, the readers can better understand how the information at the target of the link is related to the current essay.
Haipa was inspired by two ideas:
I wanted to build a tool that would take a baby step towards a more collaboration-friendly web. I decided to focus on the idea of being able to add new links or text to an existing HTML document. I wanted the tool to be flexible enough to be usable for educational as well as creative purposes.
- The web as a collaborative environment. I attended a talk given by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the web. He stated that one of his wishes for the web of the future was to see it becoming an "intercreative" medium. Web users today are faced with read-only content published by others. Even if they can traverse the hyperlinks in any path they choose, the set of links have been predefined and cannot be expanded or modified by the reader. Tim urged his audience to help change the web so it can better support creative collaborations on documents.
- The hyperlink as a unit of meaning. In Technologies and Humanism this term, my classmates and I discussed how the act of making and following a link in a hypertext document affects both the nature of the original document and the reader's experience. We also looked at existing hypertext systems where a source text had been expanded into a web of knowledge through the added links within the text.
- Select some text in the HTML document, and turn it into a hyperlink. Users can specify the target URL and add a comment about the link. When a user later views the modified HTML document, the comment appears inside an online help bubble when the mouse pointer is rolled over the link. (Internet Explorer only.)
- Insert new text at any point in the existing HTML document.
- Open and save HTML files in the same directory as the applet. If the user opens a non-existing file, a new file is created with that filename.
the Haipa server must be started manually by me in order for the demo to work fully.
Haipa is a Java-based client-server application. Although you can run the Haipa Java applet in your browser at all times, you will not be able to save your changes to an HTML file unless the Haipa server is running. Because the server machine is being used for other projects, I cannot keep the server running at all times. Please contact me if you would like to try out the demo with the server running. A thousand pardons.
Here is the demo of Haipa for my class presentation on 12.9.1999.
- Follow the link. A sample HTML file will be displayed in a new window.
- Click on the link "Let's run Haipa."
- When the Haipa applet is displayed, try opening the file called: demo.html
James Jung-Hoon Seo | 12.17.1999