The visual knowledge builder: A second generation spatial hypertext
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The development of spatial hypertext systems was driven by the need to lower users' effort of expression. Users express categories and interrelationships through the visual similarity and co-location of information objects. The ease of changing a visual property or moving an object makes spatial hypertext better suited to tasks where the information continually evolves. But the implicit nature of the structure poses challenges for tasks in which the authors and readers are not the same set of people. The Visual Knowledge Builder (VKB) includes the ease of expression of earlier spatial hypertexts while adding greater support for long-term collaboration and tasks requiring explicit links. VKB includes a history mechanism that records the evolution of the spatial hypertext and local, global, and historical links for explicit navigational connections between chunks of information. The mechanisms added to VKB make spatial hypertext applicable in a much wider variety of tasks. In particular, VKB's global links enable wide-area distributed spatial hypertext using the existing infrastructure of the Internet. Versions of VKB have been in use for two years in tasks including note taking, writing, project management, and conference organization.