J. J Nathan Matias is currently a postgraduate at St. John's College, Cambridge University, where he is studying English Literature and preparing for a career as a university educator. For this former software consultant and aspiring polymath, projects such as the Spatial Hypertext Web Publisher (this document) and the Stretchtext Publishing System are part of his interest in Hypertext, electronic document systems, and electronic literature.
For more information about Nathan, consult his website at www.natematias.com.
At a basic level, this document itself is a spatial hypertext. But it's hardly the first.
Spatial hypertext has a long history in academic research. Systems like StorySpace, VIKI/VKB, and Tinderbox have been very helpful to hypertext researchers, academics, writers, and other people who need to organise things.
Spatial Hypertext is different from mindmaps. Mindmaps usually focus on just presenting information visually; they are diagrams more than information spaces. Spatial Hypertext, however, has always been intended to hold large amounts of information.
Research by Frank Marshall and Catherine Shipman (thanks for all the hard work!), have shown that spatial hypertext tools like VKB and Tinderbox are very useful for people who need to make informed decisions with little time and an abundance of time. I have used Tinderbox for several years to keep notes, organise my ideas, and even create an interactive history exhibit.
Some literary works also use spatial hypertext to present an alternative to the paper book. Many literary hypertexts, such as Patchwork Girl do this. I like We Descend, by Bill Bly, which is a fiction made out of a collection of artifact documents. But I'm biased. This spatial hypertext publishing tool comes out of a collaboration with Bly to create a sequel to We Descend.
This software publishes documents authored in Tinderbox, the tool for notes, published by Eastgate Systems. If you have a license for Tinderbox, you will be able to create very large documents with lots of information. However, the demo version of Tinderbox permits users to create a small number of notes within the space, so you can try this out with the demo.
This release of the Spatial Hypertext Web Publisher depends on PHP 5 or better and can be viewed in any modern web browser. It works well on Firefox, Mozilla, Opera, and IE 5+, thanks to Google's ExplorerCanvas project.
Existing Tinderbox users will find this system to be very simple. Just download the Zip file (this testing version not yet released), open the Tinderbox file, edit the settings, and upload the software to your webserver. Subsequently, you just have to upload the Tinderbox file. The software will automatically read the Tinderbox file and present the spatial map appropriately.
Further instructions on using this system are contained in the Configuration section of this Tinderbox Document, which is not shown onlline.