Hypertext in the Medical Field

Through brief research of several hypertext systems used in the medical field, I found that Hypercard was once a software system of choice. HyperCard, created by Bill Atkinson for Apple Inc., was an information-management and programming tool with hypertextual capabilities. It was among the first successful hypermedia systems created before the World Wide Web. The software’s power relied in its ease of use. Information was stored in a series of “cards” arranged into “stacks.” These cards could be linked to each other, just like hypertext links on the Internet. HyperCard supported images, audio, and video. It could be used to make almost anything, from games to accounting systems, scientific data tools and teaching aides. Its use was both simple and powerful. Fifth-graders could build databases of their Pokemon cards. It even allowed ordinary people to begin successful software companies, helping shape Java as well as the web. When Apple released Mac OS X, HyperCard quickly lost its popularity. Especially in the medical field, several problems were encountered in the different stages of the information acquisition, processing, handling, and loading. HyperCard had its limitations concerning its ability to openly connect with other systems.

While experimental technologies especially in the medical field are appealing and glamorous, they are only instruments with the intention to accomplish the final objective, which is to offer health professionals a powerful tool to improve their knowledge and work. This is a direct reference to the YouTube clip of the Alice app for the iPad. The bells and whistles of the application’s aesthetic appeal certainly entertains, but how much of the concrete material (the story itself) is retained by the average user? Some features of digital text can be fascinating but unnecessary.

The field of medicine requires a rich and extensive use of technical information. The traditional use of reading systems are not always efficient enough for the flexible access of information. Hypertext has several advantages over both the linear and hierarchical models. It is highly interconnective, manageable, and modifiable. Hypertext is appropriate for representing many forms of information.

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