Design of a hypertext autobiography
Hypertext is textual information organised into nodes within a web. Nodes are sometimes called pages. Associative Links are provided between nodes to move through the material. Typically a link is anchored at a word or phrase in one node, and points or refers to the entirety of another node. The best known example of a hypertext system is the World Wide Web, the main innovation of which was the ability to link between nodes on different servers on the Internet.
There are several approaches to the design of hypertext. The inventors of the concept and the term "Hypertext" themselves provided minimal guidelines on how associative links should be drawn, arguing that the information itself must determine the shape of the hypertext web . Later, as interest in hypertext was stimulated by Apple Computerís decision to include the Hypercard system free with the early Macintosh (1987), researchers began to study ways to help readers/users in their struggle to avoid getting "lost in hyperspace". The classic books on hypertext design date from the late eighties , and provide principles that help situate the current information within the web as a whole. For example, structuring information in a tree or a chain is often appropriate, and providing overviews of either the whole or of parts of the web helps in orientation and way-finding through the information. With the development of the World Wide Web in the 1990s, style guides have been published, providing rules not just for hypertext, but for graphical design, information latency and so on .
While there have been and continue to be experiments in hypertext literature (see  for references), little has been written about the design of such material. Most authors agree that the standard guidelines for hypertext do not apply in a creative work. For example, the author may wish the reader to traverse the text in one of a large but limited number of ways. If so, random access to the material is not desirable, and overview pages, with links to all the information, should be avoided. Furthermore, most hypertext literature (particularly that published in print form such as "choose-you-own-adventure") has a tree format structure where progress down one branch ends at a leaf and the reader must then backtrack to a branching point to read more. This constraint makes the literature easier to design but is hardly exploiting the power of hypertext.
I have found no examples of hypertext literature deliberated designed as a richly-connected web. This is unsurprising: in a novel, for example, there are likely to be many constraints on the order of presentation. On the other hand, creative works offer the opportunity to manipulate form and content together, so that it becomes possible to specify a structure and then (to attempt) to pour the writing into it. This is what I tried to do in designing my hypertext autobiography. Because events in my life are linked in my own mind in various non-chronological ways, it seemed that I could provide branching streams of narrative using those links. However, I wanted to avoid simply placing links where they naturally occurred because that would rapidly lead to tight looping (for example, where page A links to page B, which links to C, which links back to A).
Since I found no precedents for the kind of hypertext web I was seeking, I will recount my design process as it actually happened. In retrospect I think things could be done in a more systematic way.
I have some views on how well this design attempt succeeded.
There are many other experiments I would like to attempt with the form, involving style, structure and the inclusion of visual material (photos, graphics and movies). However the key question is whether the hypertext structure actually adds any value to the material. On this, I remain undecided. When I read what I have written it seems very fragmented, but, as I discuss below, this may be inherent to autobiography and has simply been made more obvious by my structure.
 Vannevar Bush, "As We May Think", The Atlantic Monthly, July 1945.
 Ted Nelson, "Computer Lib/Dream Machines", Revised ed. Micro soft Press, 1987.
 Ben Shneiderman, Greg Kearsley, "Hypertext hands-on!: an introduction to a new way of organizing and accessing information", Addison-Wesley, 1989.
 Jakob Nielson, "Hypertext and Hypermedia", Academic Press, 1 990.
 Patrick Lynch, "Yale C/AIM Web Style Guide" http://info.med. yale.edu/caim/manual/contents.html
 Terrell Neuage, "The Influence of the World Wide Web on Literature: Bibliography" http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Lofts/5289/THESIS2.html
 M T Hills, "Telecommunications Switching Principles", George Allen & Unwin, 1979.