Control choices and network effects in hypertext systems

Jim Whitehead (
Tue, 5 Jan 1999 12:05:59 -0800

Towards the end of last year I wrote a paper for the Hypertext'99 conference
on how the control choices embedded within hypertext systems make them
either more or less able to generate network effects. Since generation of
network effects has a positive impact on the adoption of a hypertext system,
the implication is that if you're designing a hypertext system for wide
adoption, you should ensure that it generates network effects.

Furthermore, though I limited my analysis to just hypertext systems, since I
had sufficient evidence to substantiate this hypothesis, it seems to me that
the analysis easily extends to all types of Internet information systems.
Since adoption often equates to dollars on the Internet, analysis of
networks effects should be a critical aspect of many business plans.

Another avenue of future work is to analyze RPC-style systems for how they
do, or do not generate network effects. The Web generates network effects
through a growing corpus of information, yet this does not immediately
extend to cover RPC systems. It appears there is another mechanism at work
here. This has significance for the HTTP-NG effort, which is hoping to
generate network effects both via a corpus of documents, and also with RPC.

- Jim