THE FUTURE OF MANAGING
INFORMATION:

HYPER-TEXT & HYPER-MEDIA





RICHARD R. ORSINGER
Attorney at Law
1616 Tower Life Building
San Antonio, Texas 78205
(210) 225-5567 (Telephone)
(210) 267-7777 (Telefax)
(210) 268-8888 (ISDN Modem)
E-mail: rrichard@txdirect.net
http://www.txdirect.net/users/rrichard




9th Annual Advanced Evidence

and Discovery Course

November 14-15, 1996 - Austin, Texas


© 1996
Richard R. Orsinger
All Rights Reserved



Table of Contents



I. SCOPE OF ARTICLE.

II. WHAT IS HYPERTEXT? WHAT IS HYPERMEDIA?

III. DIGITIZING INFORMATION.

A. Defining the "Universe" of Information.

B. Converting to Digital Form.

C. Embedding HTML Codes.

IV. CREATING NODES OF INFORMATION.

A. Creating Different Levels of Generality.

B. What is a Usable "Chunk" of Information?

C. How Will the "Chunk" be Accessed?

V. CREATING LINKS BETWEEN NODES.

A. Linking From a Chronology.

B. Linking From Pleadings.

C. Linking From Exhibit Lists.

D. Linking From an Outline.

E. Linking From an Alphabetical Index.

F. Linking From a Search Engine.

VI. DISPLAYING THE INFORMATION.

A. Your Computer Screen.

B. Printing.

C. Remote Monitors.

D. Projection Devices.

VII. WHAT SOFTWARE DO YOU NEED?

A. HTML Authoring Software.

B. Internet Database Publisher.

C. Web Browsers.

1. To Buy Netscape Navigator

2. To Obtain Microsoft Explorer

VIII. CONCLUSION.




THE FUTURE OF MANAGING

INFORMATION:

HYPER-TEXT & HYPER-MEDIA

by

Richard R. Orsinger
Board Certified in Family Law
and Civil Appellate Law
Texas Board of Legal Specialization

I. SCOPE OF ARTICLE. This article suggests a new paradigm in document management (actually, information management) for litigation. The suggestion is that we should use World Wide Web (WWW) browsers as the access software to access our documents and all other information relating to a case. This will require that the documents be digitized and the text placed in HyperText Markup Language (HTML). This is not so hard to do, now that Corel WordPerfect 7 permits you to translate a Wordperfect document into an HTML-coded document automatically. Once your documentary materials are HTML-coded, you can use any WWW browser to view the materials, be they textual, photographic, video, or whatever. You will even be able to create demonstrative exhibits which you can show to the court or jury on a monitor or computer projector, that move, blink, etc.--all the things that you see right now on the WWW.

II. WHAT IS HYPERTEXT? WHAT IS HYPERMEDIA? Hypertext is textual material that contains "links" which, if you click on them with your mouse pointer, "send" you to other information. This other information can contain links that send you to yet other information. Hypermedia is like hypertext, except that the material which you link from and to can be text, graphics, audio, video, animation, or images. Here are some descriptions of hypertext and hypermedia taken from the WWW.

Description of HyperText No. 1:

HyperText

Hypertext is a means by which clicking on a picture or work will take you to another page of relevant information. It was first proposed in 1945 by an author known as Vannevar Bush, and the term Hypertext was coined in 1965 by Ted Wilson. HyperCard originally operated on this principal, and the World Wide Web also operated on this principal.

http://www2.excite.sfu.ca/pgm/students/mike_vansnell/

hypertext.html

Description of HyperText No. 2:

What are WWW, hypertext and hypermedia?
WWW stands for "World Wide Web". The WWW project, started by CERN (the European Laboratory for Particle Physics), seeks to build a distributed hypermedia system.

The advantage of hypertext is that in a hypertext document, if you want more information about a particular subject mentioned, you can usually "just click on it" to read further detail. In fact, documents can be and often are linked to other documents by completely different authors -- much like footnoting, but you can get the referenced document instantly!

To access the web, you run a browser program. The browser reads documents, and can fetch documents from other sources. Information providers set up hypermedia servers which browsers can get documents from.

The browsers can, in addition, access files by FTP, NNTP (the Internet news protocol), gopher and an ever-increasing range of other methods. On top of these, if the server has search capabilities, the browsers will permit searches of documents and databases.

The documents that the browsers display are hypertext documents. Hypertext is text with pointers to other text. The browsers let you deal with the pointers in a transparent way -- select the pointer, and you are presented with the text that is pointed to.

Hypermedia is a superset of hypertext -- it is any medium with pointers to other media. This means that browsers might not display a text file, but might display images or sound or animations.

http://www.sundaypaper.com/general/www.htm

Description of HyperText No. 3:

Hypertext

A program that provides multiple pathways through the text, enabling the user to follow existing Hyperlinks, to link-related items of text and/or graphics, or retrieve linked cross-references, in a non-linear and 'random-access' manner.

http://www.williams.edu:803/library/library.www/pg/hyper.html

In Hypertext, certain pictures or words are highlighted; users click on them with a mouse and move to a linked image or page of information. With many different choices the user will go through the information in an unusual way, circumventing traditional alphabetical or hierarchal modes.

http://www.williams.edu:803/library/library.www/pg/web.html

Description of HyperText No. 5:

A hypertext is a database system which provides a unique and non-sequential method of accessing information. The essential features of hypertext are nodes and links. Nodes can contain text, graphics, audio, video, animation, and images while links connect nodes related in a certain manner. It is the linking capability which allows the non-linear organization of text. We have seen some of the pioneers in this field and some of the systems they built which have paved the way to understand better the theoretical and practical aspects of hypertext.

http://eies.njit.edu/~333/review/chapter1.html

Description of HyperText No. 6:

2. Basic Features of a Hypertext System

A Graphical User Interface, with the help of browsers and overview diagrams, helps the user to navigate through large amounts of information by activating links and reading the contents of nodes.

An authoring system with tools to create and manage nodes (of multiple media) and links.



Traditional information retrieval (IR) mechanisms such as keyword searches, author searches etc. There are also attempts to incorporate structure queries along with content queries - retrieving a part of the hypertext network based on some user- specified criteria.

A hypermedia engine to manage information about nodes and links.

A storage system which can be a filesystem or a knowledge base or a relational database management system or an object-oriented database management system.

http://eies.njit.edu/~333/review/basic.1.html#0

Description of HyperText No. 7:

The concept of hypertext has been around for a long time. The dictionary and the encyclopedia are very old forms of hypertext. These can be viewed as a network of textual nodes joined by referential links. The Talmud, with its heavy use of annotations and nested commentary, and Indian epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata (stories branching off to other stories) are ancient prototypes of hypertext representation.

http://eies.njit.edu/~333/review/systems.1.html#0

Description of HyperText No. 8:

Hypertext parallels human cognition and facilitates exploration. We think in nonlinear chunks which we try to associate with each other and build a network of concepts. When we read a book, we go back and forth a number of times to refer to previously read material, to make notes, and to jump to topics using the table of contents or the index. When we set out to write a document we first develop an outline of ideas. Then, we brainstorm, write down on paper, organize, revise, reorganize and repeat the cycle till we are satisfied with the outcome - a coherent document. In fact, we have been forced to adapt to traditional, linear text because of representation on paper.

http://eies.njit.edu/~333/review/rw-model.1.html

Description of HyperText No. 9:

Thus, both reading and writing processes emphasize a lot on the non-linear nature of thinking, a natural process in human beings. Human cognition is essentially organized as a semantic network in which concepts are linked together by associations. Hypertext systems try to exploit this basic nature of cognition.

http://eies.njit.edu/~333/review/w-model.1.html

Description of HyperText No. 10:

What is Hypertext?

Hypertext. The word . . . is one that has also been appearing with increasing frequency during the last couple of years in the news media and the academic world. But exactly what is hypertext? How does writing hypertext differ from writing text as we always have?

Ted Nelson coined the term in the 1960s to describe "'nonsequential writing--text that branches and allows choices to the reader, best read at an interactive screen. As popularly conceived, this is a series of text chunks connected by links which offer the reader different pathways'." (quoted in Landow, 1992, p. 4) And, although he didn't use the same word, Vannevar Bush is often credited with introducing the idea of hypertext in his prescient 1945 Atlantic Monthly article, "As We May Think." Bush, then director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development, had coordinated the activities of several thousand scientists during World War II, and in this essay began to consider what goals scientists should turn to once the war was over. He posited a machine (never built) he called a "memex" that would enable people to index texts in a way that mimicked the associative nature of the human mind. Although it relied on microfilm for storage rather than on magnetic tape, the device he described had many features familiar to today's computer users. A desk with multiple screens embedded in its surface (i.e., like windows on today's computer screens) would keep different texts and pictures in view simultaneously, and a reader could create a "trail" of associations through microfilmed texts that could be recalled as needed. "It is exactly as though the physical items had been gathered together to form a new book. It is more than this, for any item can be joined into numerous trails" (Bush, 1945, Section 7).

It was some forty years before Bush's ideas were brought to a wider public. Since the late 1980s a number of software applications have been introduced that draw on the hypertextual concepts of Bush, Nelson, and other pioneers. As readers and/or writers, Taylor's students encountered three of these applications: HyperCard, Storyspace, and HTML.

How does hypertext affect the way we read and write? Consider this article; it contains a large number of references--to published texts, to students' writing, to people's names. In the online version, these are not just references. Many of them are also hypertext links, which may appear boldfaced or underlined on the screen. When I refer to The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin in print, you can, of course, go to a library or bookstore or your own shelf and examine the text for yourself. In hypertext, however, I link that title to an online version of the book, and you can look at it immediately. This may just sound like a footnote, yet there's a crucial difference. Footnotes in a written text are always subordinate to the main text, but that is not necessarily true in a hypertext. Once I make a link to another text, and a reader refers to it, the linked text may become more important to the reader than mine. As Carter Butts, a Trinity junior concentrating in systems theory, aptly puts it, "The author of a hypertextual work does not create a history, he creates a space...it is the reader who creates a history by choosing the order in which subtexts are reached."

http://www.lib.duke.edu/magazine/spring_95/htext.html

Description of the WWW No. 1:

The WWW world consists of documents and links. The Web contains documents in many formats. Those documents which are hypertext contain links to other documents, or places within documents.

To follow a link, a reader clicks with a mouse (or types in a number if he or she has no mouse). To search and index, a reader gives keywords (or other search criteria). These are the only operations necessary to access the entire world of data.

http://rsc.anu.edu.au/HWS/www/www.html#W

Description of the WWW No. 2:

The Internet and the WWW protocol.

The Internet is steadfastly becoming a highly popular medium for the distribution and communication of ideas and knowledge. During the recent years the Internet has attracted more than 20 million users for a total of 1.5 million host machines, achieving growth rates of at least 1 million new users per month. At this moment, the Internet is already the largest global communication network. The Internet's structure or set-up is however most peculiar and very much unlike any other mass-medium of communication. Its typical characteristics such as a decentralized principle of operation (and control), and the possibility of fast and close interaction between 'information consumer' and 'information producer' can be contrasted to those of the other media as the publishing and film industry.

The World Wide Web (WWW) and its associated Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HHTP) were designed to retain the positive aspects of network anarchy and at the same time provide consumers and producers of information a more friendly and efficient interface to knowledge. This was achieved by introducing a protocol that controlled both knowledge representation and user interface.

The WWW adheres to a distributed principle of knowledge representation which means knowledge is stored as a network of nodes and links. Nodes' can contain any combination of plain text, images, sounds as well as movies. Links connect individual items from a certain node to any other node, according to the author's or web master's preference and taste, hence forming a network of nodes connected via links. As for the user interface, the user is expected to retrieve information by traversing meaningful links from node-items to other nodes, thereby making associative judgements that will, from a certain start position, lead to the node containing the desired information.

The WWW is structured by human designers that use their intuitive ideas of knowledge structuring and semantics to construct their nodes and sub-networks. These individual contributions are gradually connected to the larger body of knowledge that is already contained within the WWW, thereby expanding the content of the overall network. In our view, the WWW is structured and behaves to a large extent as a learning (McClelland & Rumelhart, 1986) and self-organizing network in which the network's special principle of knowledge organization and retrieval interacts with the constant influx of new contributions. The WWW is expected to become a huge future 'encyclopedia' of the whole of human knowledge representing the shared knowledge and semantics of all its users and contributors. (Mayer-Kress & Barczys, 1994)

http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/papers/namurart.html

III. DIGITIZING INFORMATION. In order to use computers to access and display information, the information must be digitized. Digitized information can be stored and transported much more readily than paper-based information. Non-digital information can be digitized by typing it using a word processor, or scanning it as a graphics file. Text can be scanned and then optical character recognition software can convert the images into text.

A. Defining the "Universe" of Information. In order to create an information management system for a particular case, you must decide what will make up the "universe" of information which you will store, access, and display using computers. Obvious choices in a lawsuit would include: all documents filed with the court clerk; all depositions (text files as to the transcriptions and video-files on important portions of video-depositions); all self-generated aids (like chronologies, outlines, exhibit lists, legal memos, trial briefs, appellate opinions on law points, etc.); all raw documentary material produced in discovery; photographs of physical exhibits; etc.

B. Converting to Digital Form. In order to use a Web browser to access and display information, the information must be digitized, or put into digital form so that it can be read by computer programs. Information can be digitized into a graphics file, so that it can be visually re-created, or it can be digitized into a alphanumeric file, so that it can be processed (by a wordprocessor, spreadsheet program, etc.) If all you're going to do with the information is to display it on a screen, or projector, or print it, the information can be digitized as a graphics file. If you want to be able to edit the information, or perform word searches on it, you will have to digitize the information as an alphanumeric file. Digitizing as an alphanumeric file is a slower process, and requires not only scanning software but also optical character recognition software, which takes the scanned image and converts it into ASCII code, which is the code for letters and numbers. A possible device that can be used to digitize information is PaperPort Vx. This product, by Visioneer, Inc. permits you to scan paperwork, photographs, etc., and to convert it to wordprocessing files, HTML-coded files, to fax it, to send it over the WWW, etc. Informational materials on the product are attached. The Author has not used the product and cannot relate personal experience about the product. [See p. BB-8 below.]

C. Embedding HTML Codes. WWW browsers react to seeing HyperText Markup Language (HTML) codes. HTML codes cause the material in a document to exhibit certain characteristics when viewed using a WWW browser. For example, to center the phrase "Exhibit List" you would type the following: <center>Exhibit List</center>. The HTML equivalent of a hard return is <br>. A link from the document or node entitled "Exhibit List" to the node entitled "Exhibit 3" in the same directory on the same hard drive would be: <A HREF="Exhibit 3">Exhibit 3</A>. These HTML codes can be typed with a simple wordprocessor, or with an HTML editor, which is software specifically designed to mix wordprocessing with HTML codes.

If you use Corel WordPerfect 7 as your wordprocessor, you can automatically convert a WordPerfect document into an HTML coded document, using the "Internet Publisher" command on the "File" menu. Thus, if you can get your pleadings, or depositions, or whatever text you want, into a WordPerfect 7 file, you can convert it automatically to a WWW document that can be read by a WWW browser.

IV. CREATING NODES OF INFORMATION. In hypermedia parlance, information is stored in "nodes" that are "linked" together. Nodes could contain some or all of a document, or photographs, or selections of deposition videotape, etc. The collection of nodes, with the links between them, could be called an "information space."

A. Creating Different Levels of Generality. The "information space" should be constructed with different levels of generality. The highest level of generality is for use by newcomers to the "information space" who are still trying to become more familiar with the "information space," or by persons familiar with the information space who want to navigate through the information space at a high level. In the context of litigation, a high level of generality could for instance be a chronology of events, with links to more specific information on each event. Another high level of generality could be a list of proposed exhibits. You could click on a particular exhibit name in order to go to that exhibit in the "information space." If the exhibit is a document, the user could link to either an image of the document or a text version of the document. If the exhibit is a photograph, the user could link to the photographic image. Raw material in your "information space" would be at the lower levels of the "information space."

B. What is a Usable "Chunk" of Information? In hypertext or hypermedia, it is important to break information down into usable "chunks." It is not effective to link to a 50 page document, and then to try to progress through that document page-by-page on the screen. Typically hypertext "information spaces" break large works into smaller "bite-sized" chunks. The smaller chunks can be linked sequentially, if you want to be able to read through the document from start to finish. However, even long documents in one "chunk" can be handled if they are textual and subject to word searches, or if they contain pointers or bookmarks which permit you to jump to particular places in the document.

C. How Will the "Chunk" be Accessed? In determining what should be included in a "chunk" of information (that is, in a particular node), you should consider how the node will be accessed. If the information in the node is textual and will be searched using boolean search software, then more information can be placed in the node, since reading through it sequentially will not be likely. If the node is a photograph, it will be accessed as a whole. However, links could be imbedded in the photograph where other nodes contain closeups or different views of the same subject depicted in the photograph. If the node is a drawing or diagram, different places in the item could contain links to explanatory materials, close-ups, etc. If the node contains videotape, it will probably be accessed as a whole, and should contain only the videotape that is pertinent to the issue. For example, if a witness testifies three different ways on a certain point during a videotaped deposition, each version of the testimony should be stored in a separate node, and the nodes then linked together. You might even want an extra node that plays the three excerpts one-after-another.

V. CREATING LINKS BETWEEN NODES.

A. Linking From a Chronology. Links can be imbedded into a chronology, through the date, through the description attributed to a certain date, or through markers associated with a particular entry (including endnotes).

B. Linking From Pleadings. Links can be imbedded in your pleadings or your opponent's pleadings, leading to information relating to the portion of the pleading where the link is embedded.

C. Linking From Exhibit Lists. If you want to be able to quickly display textual, or graphical, or photographic, or video material, and you can anticipate in advance what it will be, you can prepare an exhibit list, and embed a link for each exhibit. When you want to display on your computer screen or projector a particular exhibit, you just click on the link on the exhibit list.

D. Linking From an Outline. You can also prepare your own outline of the facts of the case, or the legal issues, and link from your outline to sub-outlines, exhibits, legal memos or briefs, appellate cases, secondary materials, all of which you have placed into nodes in your "information space."

E. Linking From an Alphabetical Index. You can also create an alphabetical index of witness names, etc., and link from that alphabetical index to information relating to that person. However, with word-search capability, it is not as necessary to alphabetize a list, since the search capability can find the name or item regardless of its order in the sequence.

F. Linking From a Search Engine. If you want to be able to find a term anywhere in the "information space," you will need a search engine that can identify textual information in nodes. Indexing software that indexes all text files on a disk could possibly be adapted to this use. The search capabilities on the browser cannot be used for this purpose, since that can only search the file which has been brought into the browser for examination. However, there is software on the market which conducts searches of HTML files, and it is likely that these can be used to search HTML documents on a hard disk, floppy disk, or CD-ROM.

VI. DISPLAYING THE INFORMATION.

A. Your Computer Screen. The most obvious way to display digitized information is on your computer screen. This will be most useful in the office or at counsel table, when you want to display the information only for you to see.

B. Printing. Digitized information can also be displayed on paper using a printer. The printouts can be marked as an exhibit, stored in ring binders, mailed, etc.

C. Remote Monitors. You can display digital information on television monitors stationed around the courtroom. When the monitors are on, and you click on a link, the monitor will display whatever information is contained in the node to which you connected.

D. Projection Devices. The price of three-color projectors of computer images has been coming down. So has the size and weight. You can now buy three-color projectors that are about the size of a briefcase.

VII. WHAT SOFTWARE DO YOU NEED?

A. HTML Authoring Software. In order to create nodes and links that can be read by a Web browser, it is necessary to code the information in the nodes in Hypertext Markup Language, and to insert links between the nodes. While this can be done with an ordinary wordprocessor, it is easier to do if you have HTML authoring software. The HTML codes can all be typed using a wordprocessor, but HTML authoring software has buttons that type certain codes for you, etc. Basic but adequate HTML authoring software costs around $ 90.00. HTML authoring software is built into WordPerfect 7. You can create a new document in HTML if you select "File," then select "Internet Publisher," then select "New Web Document."

WordPerfect 7 can automatically convert a wordprocessing document into an HTML document which can be read by a Web browser. Select "File," then select "Internet Publisher," then select "Publish to HTML." This automatically converts your wordprocessing document into an HTML document, ready to be read by a Web browser.

Reportedly, the programs in Microsoft's Office 97 program (Word 97, Access 97, PowerPoint 97) will have an "auto web link" feature, where the software recognizes your typing a WWW address (Uniform Resource Locator, or URL) and automatically converts the URL into a hyperlink.

B. Internet Database Publisher. There is now software on the market that permits you to publish, in WWW browser-ready form, information contained in a database. One such product is Corel's Web.Data software.

C. Web Browsers. To navigate through a hypertext information space, you need hypertext navigational software. While many hypertext navigation programs exist, this Article focuses on the use of a World Wide Web browser to navigate. The principal WWW browsers are: Netscape Navigator, America On-Line browser, Netcom Cruiser, Mosaic, and Microsoft Explorer. According to a Netscape WWW page:

Two recent studies show that Netscape Navigator is the most popular Web browser. A full 87.6 percent of respondents to a recent International Data Corporation (IDC) survey said they use Netscape Navigator. IDC reported that the nearest competitor has 2.6 percent of browser users. In a similar study, Dataquest reported that Navigator has an 84 percent market share.*

*IDC's Global Internet User Survey, July 1996, © 1996 International Data Corporation Dataquest Corp., April 1996.

According to the IDC survey, the usage numbers for these browsers are: Netscape Navigator (87.6%), America On-Line browser (1.3%), Netcom Cruiser (2.0%), Mosaic (2%), and Microsoft Explorer (2.6%).

1. To Buy Netscape Navigator. You can download an evaluation copy of Netscape Navigator for free on the World Wide Web. The downloaded software is a complete and fully functional version. If you do not purchase the product within 90 days, your copy will expire. However, once you purchase the Netscape product, you have the rights to a complete downloaded copy, 90 days of technical support, a special FTP site for downloading, and various subscriptions that permit you, for an additional fee, to take advantage of upgrades issued within a certain period of subscription offerings. See http://merchant.netscape.com/netstore/

index.html.

2. To Obtain Microsoft Explorer. Microsoft Explorer is Microsoft's web browser. It can be obtained for free from Microsoft's WWW site. See http://microsoft.com/

ie/offers/default.htm. It is comparable in power and features to Netscape Navigator. Microsoft Explorer comes with Win95, and can be triggered by clicking on the icon on your screen depicting a globe with the label "The Internet." Bill Gates has said that Microsoft Explorer "will always be free forever."

VIII. CONCLUSION. The suggestion that the information relating to a case be digitized and put into an "information space" containing nodes and links is not revolutionary. What is somewhat unusual is the idea that instead of putting the information into a proprietary software product where you are committed to the future of a particular vendor, you can put your information into HTML-coded nodes, and then access that information almost effortlessly, using a simple WWW browser, which can display text, photos, sounds, videoimages, etc. At this time, an integrated product for this purpose does not exist. However, by inter-relating a few readily available software products, you can create your own hypertext "information space" that is easy to use, and that can be used by anyone who knows how to operate a WWW browser. If you put the "information space" on a computer tied to the Internet, with some security controls to keep out unwanted people, you can actually put your "information space" onto the WWW, where it can be accessed by affiliated persons working the same project, regardless of where they are located. This approach would permit more collaboration between persons in different places, accessing the same shared pool of information at different times.