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navigation ideas

I believe that good hypermedia navigation aids should be
an important "differentiator" for at least Montage if not
for all of the Xanadu fe toolkits.  marcs and I have discussed
ideas about map creation, presentation, and other issues
related to pathing through link underbrush in the forest
of a docuverse.   peb and I began a good discussion of this
topic last week, and I've taken the liberty to begin writing(!)
some of the major themes.

Below is a (vague) abstract of a mechanism to apply evolution
to paths.  The selection agents are the readers, in contrast
to current systems where the selection agents are the authors.
There are many specifics behind this overture, but I think
this should suffice to start a discussion thread.

(I would like to call the method "Path Endorsement", but
we've already eaten up "endorsement", so tentative term
is "Path Subscription".  Suggested better term is a valid

                       Path Subscription:
       A Dynamic, Consentual Method for Hypermedia Navigation


Paths, and maps thereof, are a powerful navigational aid through a
morass of linked hypermedia documents.  Static paths, imposed by
an omniscient author, can aid the reader through interesting and
related linkages of static hypermedia.  Useful examples of such
works can easily be found in the CAI realm:  instruction manuals,
courseware, system documentation, etc.

There are problems in translating this approach to a collaborative
realm.  In such a realm, information and relations are not "owned"
by a single, omniscient author but rather by an ever-growing
group that includes contributors, reviewers, commenters and even
active readers.  Moreover, information and relations are rarely if
ever in stasis but evolve in ways often unexpected by the original

We explore a method whereby paths of links through hypermedia can
be created, examined, weighted, and subscribed-to(*) by any browser.
Paths are more than mere sequential lists of links to follow; they
include decision points, "loops", and "subrouting" constructs.
Weighing is a function of frequency-of-follow, number-of-subscriptions,
and subscribed-by-whom.  The last measure is perhaps the most critical:
it is subjective and can controlled by the reader herself or can
default to a consensus measuring system that itself is subject to
a more egalitarian form of subscription.

(*) [Auth. note:  "endorse" would be a very good term except for
the fact that Endorsements have a specific meaning in the Xanadu(tm)

comments, etc. invited