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2.1.8 Die Auswirkungen des World Wide Web auf die Hypertextforschung

1993 hatte man in der Hypertextforschung die Bedeutung des WWW erkannt und beobachtete die Entwicklung interessiert. In einem Bericht über die Hypertext '93-Konferenz schreiben Steven Poltrock und Doug Schuler:

One of the most exciting developments in the hypertext field has been the development of the World-Wide Web (WWW), though, surprisingly, the hypertext research community has been slow to develop an interest in this technology. [...] In a Birds of a Feather session on WWW there were discussions about such issues and improvements as usage tracking, web-walking robots, online editors, version control, pay-per-view, collaborative hypertext poetry, and forms-based services. This was the largest Birds of a Feather session at the conference and was moved to the ballroom to accommodate the crowd [...] (Poltrock 1993, S. 5).

Auf der ECHT94-Konferenz (European Conference on Hypermedia Technology) hielt Tim Berners-Lee, der Begründer des WWW, einen Keynote-Vortrag. In einem Bericht darüber wird deutlich, daß ein Teil des Hypertextforscher dem WWW ein gewisses Mißtrauen entgegenbrachten:

The two souls of the hypertext community met each other during the closing speech by Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the World-Wide Web. On one side was the strictly scholarly view of hypertext as a pure research subject, the source of endless research papers on the alleged virtues of systems so experimental as to never have gotten out of their inventors' labs-and sometimes, even their minds. On the other side was the practitioners' view, of hypertext as a tool, a means to many practical ends. It wasn't hard to tell which side Tim Berners-Lee, with his zero research papers and several million users, was on. Apart from the facade of amicality and professional partnership, more than one face in the audience could have been taken straight out of a soap opera, complete of evil looks and icy smiles (Vannini 1994, S. 22, URL).

Auf derselben Konferenz fand auch eine Panel Session statt, in der über Vor- und Nachteile von HTML diskutiert wurde. Das Thema lautete: "HTML: Poison or Panacea?" (HTML: Gift oder Allheilmittel?) (Balasubramanian 1994a). Diese Formulierung deutet ebenfalls darauf hin, daß es zwei Lager mit gegensätzlicher Einstellung zum WWW gab.
Die immer weiter zunehmende Popularität des World Wide Web bedeutete für die Hypertextforschung, daß eine Neuorientierung notwendig war. Es war eine neue Situation entstanden, in der die Hypertextforschung ihren Platz finden mußte. So erschien 1996 ein Artikel mit dem Titel "Is there a life for Hypertext after the Web?" im Newsletter der SIGLINK (Interessengruppe für Hypertext und Hypermedia der Association for Computing Machinery, ACM):

As expected, the burst of new ideas at the end of the eighties and the early nineties with innovative Hypertext conferences has been followed, as expected, by a slow ramp of real use of the technology. But an unexpected event occurred. Like an earthquake, a second shock, far bigger than the first one, caused a change in the system behavior: the World Wide Web. So today, most of the populace knows the word "Internet" and many of the fewer who have also heard the word "hypertext" suppose they are synonyms! Even among the scientific community, many ignore that hypertext other than the World Wide Web may exist. Is that the end of the vision that hypertext pioneers had of the domain? Has the Web killed hypertext? What is the future of hypertext as a research domain (Nanard 1996, S. 3)?

Die beste Lösung war natürlich, eine Zusammenarbeit mit der WWW-Forschung anzustreben. Mit diesem Ziel organisierte Keith Instone einen Workshop im Rahmen der Hypertext '96-Konferenz und machte dabei interessante Erfahrungen:

A one-day workshop at Hypertext '96 on Hypermedia Research and the World Wide Web was held March 17 in Washington, DC. I organized the workshop and was very anxious during the position paper phase before the conference: I had sent out over 30 personal invitations, but nobody was willing to participate in my workshop. I was beginning to wonder if I was the only person who saw this huge gap between the World Wide Web and hypermedia research communities. I even thought about canceling the workshop because of lack of interest. But after extending the submission deadline as late as possible and making a few more contacts, I was finally able to get a good group of participants together and the workshop was held. [...] As it turns out, the reason few people could attend my workshop was NOT because they did not also see this problem. Rather, everyone was already talking about it in other places. For example, both of the other workshops at Hypertext '96 spent time talking about these same issues. The discussion I had with others in the hallway during the technical program also told me that I was on the right track and the hypermedia community was beginning to feel like it should take some action to forge a closer tie to the Web community. Many people re-iterated the same questions: "Why aren't the Web developers looking at the existing research? Why are they reinventing the wheel?" I agree that the Web community is not paying close enough attention to the existing research, but since the workshop (and after addressing similar issues at CHI 96) I have developed comeback questions for these: "Why isn't the hypermedia research community more active in the Web? Why aren't they submitting more papers to the Web conferences? Why aren't they applying their research to the Web to show how useful their research is?" It is a two-way street, folks (Instone URL).

Die Entwicklung ging und geht nun tatsächlich in diese Richtung. 1997/98 wurde sogar intensiv darüber diskutiert, die Interessengruppe SIGLINK in SIGWEB umzubenennen. Man hielt dies aus folgenden Gründen für notwendig:

The submissions we received for all parts of the Hypertext 98 conference program are proof that hypertext research is currently very active and and [sic] of very high quality. [...] It is clear that neither the scope nor the quality of hypertext research is diminishing! But let us observe the topics in more depth: more than one half of the accepted papers are explicitly concerned with the World Wide Web. The Web is currently the most important and fruitful research domain for applying hypermedia technologies. We might say that a cross-fertilization of hypertext and WWW research is well established at the individual level within the SIGLINK membership but it is not made apparent at the institutional level (Nanard 1997, S. 3).

Gegner der Namensänderung sahen die Gefahr, daß der Eindruck entsteht, die Hypertextforschung beschäftige sich nur noch mit dem WWW.

Dennoch wurde die Namensänderung am 1. November 1998 wirksam: SIGLINK wurde umbe-nannt in „sigWEB, The ACM Special Interest Group on Hypertext, Hypermedia and Web" (SIGWEB URL). Als Ziel wurde festgelegt: „ACM SIGWEB supports the multi-disciplinary field of hypertext and hypermedia, facilitating its application both on the World-Wide Web and also in independent distributed and stand-alone environments" (SIGWEB URL).

Ein Blick auf das Programm der Hypertext '98-Konferenz (Hypertext '98 URL) und auf die Ausschreibung der Hypertext '99-Konferenz (Hypertext '99 URL) zeigt, daß das WWW einen festen Platz in der Hypertextforschung gefunden hat, daß es aber immer nur ein Thema unter vielen ist und andere Aspekte durchaus nicht zu kurz kommen.

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