March 22, 2003
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IA Summit Talking Point

Here's the schedule for the IA Summit.

My talking point for today's panel on Wayfinding and Navigation is simple: hierarchy is not enough.

When people first tried to organize large hypertexts, the complexity of the connections seemed daunting, confusing, hopeless. Many thought that, at first, that the answer was to simplify, organize, and classify. Once the links were pruned and sorted out, everything would again be...orderly.

It doesn't work. Order can be enforced, but only by removing the real complexity of the real world. In real narratives, lots of things happen at the same time, and narratology reminds us how many different kinds of time we need to juggle: story time, narrator time, our time. Backstory, flashback, premonition, the times are always changing and the connections of ideas are always complex.

The atom of hypertext is a cycle, not a split/join or a tree. There, and back again. But it's time to start: here we go.