Hypertext 2012

Milwaukee, USA, 25-28 July 2012.

Event website.

By Heather Packer, Agent and Research fellow, the University of Southampton.


Overall, the Narrative workshop provided an excellent opportunity to network with others in the narrative community, who showed the latest advances in their software and research approaches. The work presented by Charlie Hargood was a particular highlight because of its novel use of adaptation given a stream of user input. I was given valuable feedback into the work which I presented, which should help shape my future plans for my research.

Conference report

I recently presented at the Narrative and Hypertext workshop at the ACM Hypertext and Social Media conference in Milwaukee. I talked about my work on enriching a simple narrative based on life logging data with information from the Semantic Web [1]. I'm new to this area of research, but I found myself welcomed into a well thought-out and friendly workshop. We all had a chance to introduce ourselves and there were breakout sessions which built on the topics that were discussed on the day. The biggest take away relating to my work was, what type of narrative should a computer tell. Computers have limitations, they can elaborate about factual information but it can't tell you the emotions of the human. So to continue my research, I am going to look at how my system can support authorship of narratives.

The day began with a talk from Geoffrey Draper with discussion into hypertext for mobile devices, and how to stop the reader becoming lost in the hypertext by using a tree to describe where in the story you are. Then Kevin McGee talked about HypeDyn a procedural hypertext authoring tool, and how him and his students were using it. Interestingly, it considered visualising and debugging complex sets of dynamic links.

After lunch, Carolyn Hill talked about rhizomatic hypertext for representing ones self. It was an interesting talk because it discussed the order of information shared in a social work perspective, and that there are dialogue prerequisites that are shared before other dialogue can be explored. Then, Charlie Hargood presented the foundation for a system that dynamically adapted a documentary given a stream of user input. The idea is to enable viewers to gain access to film that would not be available in a production's final cut.

In the next session, Mark Bernstein spoke about Spuyboek's Digital Gothic, which describes hypertext narratives with six traits associated with Gothic. It was an interesting take on Spuyboek's idea and elaborated more on the economic requirements for writing hypertext. Finally, Stacey Mason presented her work on glitch art which primarily takes a digital image and partially replaces or edits its encoding to alter the image. She discussed ideas in how to connect this art form with literature using sentiment analysis and frequency of terms.

The workshop brought together a mixture of people from industry and research, and from English Literature and Computer Science backgrounds. For me it highlighted the challenges in the adoption of hypertext authoring software, it seems like authors are not fully utilising all the features in available software because it is easier for them to be more creative with a simpler hypertext authoring tool. The work presented by Geoffrey Draper and Kevin McGee explored ways to help the reader and author explore hypertext narratives, and Charlie Hargood's research proposal is an innovate way to allow users to interact with media content to allow anyone to make their own media narrative. Such research makes hypertext narrative more accessible so that people can author, organise, read and dynamically evolve narratives.

The full proceedings of the workshop are available online at: