Ripping text into Hypertext

I’ve spent the day engaged in a first-pass edit of a proposed guidebook text into HypeDyn. The text is the 10,000 word draft by Sue Kirkland of a guide to the River Wey and Godalming Navigations. Though this is National Trust site, its not an official project, I’m doing it as a “real-world” exercise in using HypeDyn.

So far I’ve cut the text up into about seventy “nodes”, most of which are associated with actual places along the river. There are also eight that are pure “story” elements, and a few others are are about things or people. A few “transistions” have also become apparent. The text as it stood envisaged a twenty mile walk from the Thames to Godalming – so so I thought, for most of the day. This puzzled me, as the Navigations are a favourite place for my family to walk, but we’ve never considered walking it all in one. (Well, my wife probably has, but the rest of us a far more fairweather.) And even if we were, I thought, why would we start at the Thames? Surely it would be more pleasant to walk downstream?

The “one way” nature of of the proposed text was the reason why I’d thought it might be fun to turn into Hypertext in the first place. If I managed no more that making it readable in two directions, that would be a useful enough thing to do in any case. So while I was editing I was thinking about the walks my family had taken, some upstream some down, and I still couldn’t work out why the original author had chosen to start at the Thames. It only dawned on me as I neared the end – the navigations aren’t only for walkers, obviously. Lots of pleasure-boat owners and hirers use the waterway too. Many are local with their boats moored somewhere along the river, but most visiting craft would have come via the Thames. Doh!

So, when i start my next task, turning it into a context based Hypertext, I won’t just have to think about walks starting at (for the sake of my sanity) the four sites with the best car parking, but also boats coming form the Thames (that should be easy of course because that’s how the original was written) the two points where other waterways join the Navigations. Actually its one other point right now – the Wey and Arun canal is not yet fully restored.

So at either end, there is only one direction of travel, but at the other three (or four) points, the visitor will have a choice to go up or downstream, and the language of the text will have to change to cope with the choices the visitor makes. I also want the text to tell most of the “story” elements to the visitor, even if they have the shortest, four mile, walk.

That’s all for another day though.

I took a phone call today from a friend of a friend who is possibly being offered a high-powered job with a global cultural heritage brand. We talked about that company and its competitors, and where the future might go. And for the first time I used the words “Ambient Interpretation.” I know exactly where I got the word Ambient from, but I’m not telling you, not yet. And not tomorrow, but next week.

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