2. Navigation

The concept of navigation is a powerful metaphor in the current literature on hypertext systems. As the metaphor suggests there has to be an overview of the docuverse of electronic texts and reliable means to find one's way and know one's current position. One of the key features of the hypertext idea, a logical consequence of its non-linearity, is the new role and enhanced responsibility it places on the reader. But the experience of reading or exploring a hypertext on a particular occasion will remain linear.

Links between texts, such as the relation between a Shakespeare copy text ( First Folio or Quarto Edition ) and the corresponding modern edition are quite obviously hypertext links. The reader is also accustomed to footnote-like links which he finds in modern critical editions. Typically footnotes deal with a special case, a well-known crux, a textual emendation, a contextually motivated gloss, or a factual piece of information for the modern reader. The reader is not used to jump from text to dictionary, or from text to grammar, nor from text to encyclopaedia. Conventionally these types of information have been assigned to separate books, and the reader knows that he may look up things in vain because there is no direct relationship between a text passage and a traditional grammar or a conventional dictionary. Grammars and dictionaries tend to give exemplary contexts. This is why professional training and background knowledge is indispensable for a successful investigation. Dictionary information has to be applied to a particular passage by the experienced user.

In an integrated information system information entities are systematically linked. It is thus possible to navigate, as the terminological metaphor quite expressively suggests, from a First Folio citation to a respective passage in a modern spelling edition, and after a lexical parsing to a disambiguated wordform and its grammatical role, and, ultimately to the lexical entry or lemma this particular wordform belongs to. In such an architecture of texts, dictionary and grammar it is, of course, also possible to go back from a particular lemma to all other occurrences in the corpus, with links to information about spelling variation in particular texts, or emendational readings.

Information systems of this type are truly integrated since they transcend the traditional information categories of the book culture. What is more important, they are explicit since they tend to organize the professional expertise in a comprehensive framework with explicit links. Such a framework is, of course, not a homogeneous or unified view of the field, it will explicitly draw attention on controversial issues, alternative explanations, unexplained states of affairs, or vague data. But it will allow even a beginner to find his way in a complex subject matter. These exploratory inroads into a system can be highly individualized. Browsing has been used as an appropriate description for this kind of activity.