Mind the Semantic Gap

David E. Millard, Nicholas Gibbins, Danius T. Michaelides, Mark J. Weal


Hypertext can be seen as a logic representation, where semantics are encoded in both the textual nodes and the graph of links. Systems that have a very formal representation of these semantics are able to manipulate the hypertexts in a sophisticated way; for example by adapting them or sculpting them at run-time. However, hypertext systems which require the author to write in terms of structures with explicit semantics are difficult/costly to write in, and can be seen as too restrictive by certain authors because they do not allow the playful ambiguity often associated with literary hypertext. In this paper we present a vector-based model of the formality of semantics in hypertext systems, where the vectors represent the translation of semantics from author to system and from system to reader. We categorise a variety of existing systems and draw out some general conclusions about the profiles they share. We believe that our model will help hypertext system designers analyse how their own systems formalise semantics, and will warn them when they need to mind the Semantic Gap between authors and readers.


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