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Assumptions and Limits

In this essay we assume that individual interests are the deciding factor for whether people adopt a hypertext application. We exclude situations in which the usage of an application would be part of the users job description, or would be enforced in other ways. Yet we do consider social traps and fences as a possibility (e.g. the users perceived interest can differ from his real, long-term interests, or from collective interests).

We will also limit our definition of hypertext to page and link hypertext, as opposed to stretch-text hypertext (unfolding text, as one clicks on phrases) and visual forms of hypertext such as found in mind-mapping and visualisation software. Page and link hypertext is the traditional kind of hypertext that makes up most of the web. In line with this we will be limiting ourselves to web-based applications with regard to application-types.

Finally, as already noted, exploring ways to attain critical mass is not the primary aim of this essay, though they are mentioned between the lines where they help to explain aspects of, or factors involved in, critical mass. We will also not be arguing for the advantages of web-based hypertext applications over journals and other media. This has been done elsewhere already (such as Wiersma et al.). The essay also is mostly qualitative in its approach. No explicit empirical data has been collected or analysed.

\section{Network effects}

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