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In terms of content it is important, first of all, that there is enough seed-content on the site, and that it is of sufficient quality. A more surprising thing is that the content ideally should also be controversial, or at least something that elicits peoples responses. It was found by Gaowei Chen that unlike in real-life conversations, on the web disagreement triggers increased responses, instead of inhibiting the conversation (which normally happens in face to face contexts).

Secondly, hypertext connects pages through cross-links and thus is not linear. While it is still true that virtually all traditional academic discourse (in the analytic branches of humanities) is linear and argumentative. Thus having a multitude of argumentative lines running through a page that is linked to from multiple places will be necessary, but writing in this way is much harder than writing up a traditional linear text.

Finally, hypertext requiring constant choices between reading on or following links might distract readers from the message. In addition, people will be inclined to memorize the links they have visited, and the pages through which they travelled to the current page, which also incurs cognitive load. And cognitive load comes at a price. Similarly, micro-payments might so far not have become successful because the mental cost incurred by having to decide whether to pay or not, may be bigger than the sum that is paid, or the value that is derived from the content that is received.

Next on read-path: Usability
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