Hypertext or Book: Which is Better for Answering Questions?

Hypertext or Book: Which is Better for Answering Questions? [14]


"Hypertext or Book" starts with a short review of previous studies, some showing that text, some that hypertext, is the superior medium. This helps to see where this study fits in.

Next, the main points of the study are given, namely: A wide variety of questions on a different sort of hypertext system was used, only non-linear information, more "hyper" in text than previous studies and a moderate training session of 30 minutes.

What follows is the description of the test. An encyclopedia about Sherlock Holmes, available in both print and Hypercard 1.2.5, was used. There were 29 test subjects, all considered as novice users.

In conclusion, the hypertext system performed better for content questions, which are questions where the information is available in the text only, with no clues in the headings. The paper version was still better for non-text information, e.g. images. This is because there was no way to search those images.

Best Things

"Incidental learning" is very rare in hypertext, but more frequent in text.

Important question raised: How to draw the user's attention to the appropriate tool at the appropriate times?


In the 2nd sentence: "... have not found a consistent superiority for hypertext." sounds a bit prejudice in favor of hypertext.

Incidental learning seems to be a point -- but how much is it? Is the effect significant?

Question to Authors

How much more computer literate are novice users nowadays?

Article Questions

  1. What kind of navigational aid was considered as new?

  2. In what kind of question was hypertext superior?

My Opinion

I am getting kind of confused with the term "hypertext." I thought of hypertext as linked chunks. But it seems like that the navigational aids are a core feature too.