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Hypertext Hits Print: The Future Of Books

Readers exploring the Phoenix mission that landed on Mars in May 2008 can jump to related sections on launching to Mars, flying through space to Mars and landing on Mars. These sections, in turn, link to other missions such as the Viking missions (pictured) that landed in 1976.
by Morris Jones
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Sep 03, 2008
Hypertext, a style of writing that links many separate segments through the use of links, has transformed mass communications. It's the basis of the World Wide Web, where "hyperlinks" to different Web pages allow people to jump around to different sites.

Now, hypertext has hit print. A new pair of books by the Australian writer Morris Jones has placed hyperlinked writing into a conventional publishing format.

Readers can read the books in any sequence of pages by following "hyperlinks" to related topics. The hyperlinks are printed in the main text, in colour, copying the style of Web pages.

"The Adventure of Mars", released by Jones onto the market in August 2008, deals with the history of robot space probes launched to Mars. His follow-up title, "When Men Walked on the Moon", presents the Apollo missions in a contemporary context. It will be released in late September.

Readers exploring the Phoenix mission that landed on Mars in May 2008 can jump to related sections on launching to Mars, flying through space to Mars and landing on Mars. These sections, in turn, link to other missions such as the Viking missions that landed in 1976. "Everything is interlinked in reality, so it makes sense to interlink these topics in my books," says the author.

Dr Jones claims that the publishing style is an experiment, designed to help capture readers from Generation Y and younger.

"Some of these young people have probably seen more Web pages than book pages," he remarks.

The books could help to draw young readers back to print.

Morris Jones has written and lectured about space exploration for more than a decade. He has also worked as the assistant editor of Australia's first Internet magazine. During the 1990s, he saw the Web gradually transform the way the world communicates.

"We have gained so much, but there's no question that there have been trade-offs," he observes. Traditional print media, particularly newspapers, have experienced a decline in readership.

Jones acknowledges that the rise of electronic media is one cause of this decline, but also cites economic factors that have cut into traditional publishing.

"People like to blame the Internet for everything that's wrong with mass communications today. It's certainly changed things, but it's also sometimes used unfairly as a scapegoat."

Dr Jones has also gained a worldwide readership as an online journalist, and has written for the Web site since 1999. The readership of niche-based Web sites such as SpaceDaily often exceeds print format magazines on similar topics. Retailing has also been challenged by the rise of Web sites.

"The Internet is so common now that I will probably sell more books from online sites than bookstores," he observes.

Dr Morris Jones is an Australian writer and spaceflight analyst. He holds degrees in science and journalism. Dr Jones has written for a variety of Australian and international publications. He appears regularly at public lectures and serves as a space consultant to media sources in Australia and Hong Kong.

"The Adventure of Mars" is available online through Angus and Robertson

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Carnegie Mellon System Thwarts Internet Eavesdropping
Pittsburgh PA (SPX) Aug 27, 2008
The growth of shared Wi-Fi and other wireless computer networks has increased the risk of eavesdropping on Internet communications, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science and College of Engineering have devised a low-cost system that can thwart these "Man-in-the-Middle" (MitM) attacks.

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