Cognitive Processing of Hyperdocuments: When Does Nonlinearity Help?

Cognitive Processing of Hyperdocuments: When Does Nonlinearty Help? by Jean-François Rouet

  • Hypertext and Hyperdocuments
  • Hypertext Use
  • Efficiency Factors
  • Information Retrieval
  • Cognitive Monitoring
  • Use for Project


  • "By 'hypertext' I mean non-sequential writing - text that branches and allows choices to the reader, best read at an interactive screen." -- Theodor Holm Nelson
  • "Text which does not form a single sequence and which may be read in various orders." -- Oxford English Dictionary
  • "A computer-based text retrieval system that enables the user to provide access to or gain information related to a particular text." -- American Heritage Dictionary


  • Documents using the hypertext technology
  • = hypertext-documents

Hypertext Use

  • General Reading & Learning
  • Information Retrieval
  • BUT "no consistent evidence for the advantage of hypertext over linear presentation formats."
  • => "global efficiency of hypertext may no longer be the right question."

Efficiency Factors

  • Task Requirements
  • Subject's Experience
  • Interface Features
  • Information Retrieval
  • Training is necessary, because
  • User experience is required for efficient use of search tools
  • Match navigation mode to task
  • Q: How often do you use +,-,",*,title:,url: etc. features of search engines like altavista?

Cognitive Monitoring

  • Evaluate own cognitive processing and results
  • Usually poor correlation b/w estimated and actual comprehension
  • BUT required when using hypertext
  • => Poor results when using hypertext
  • => Reading/Navigation strategies needed

Use for Project

  • Sect.3.1: "Interface design has a great influence on hypertext usability."
  • More nonlinearity is not necessarily better
  • Provide help for information retrieval
  • Remember to consider section 2.1 for your links