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Over fifty years ago, Vannevar Bush hypothesized about what are now called hypertext and hypermedia systems. He and later visionaries discussed a number of applications which could revolutionize the way organizations and individuals access information in its various embodiments. In spite of the great attention currently being paid to this area, there are few, if any systems which fulfill the vision.

In this report, we try to isolate the essential character, the sine qua non, of hypermedia systems. Our methodology is to offer twelve criteria or rules about hypermedia systems. It is our thesis that any robust, or industrial strength, system must meet these criteria if we are to realize the full potential of hypermedia.

Some of the criteria serve as a challenge to the technical community. Others are of a social and political nature. Companies need to cooperate in deriving standards to enable the exchange of hypermedia information or to agree on APIs to achieve interoperability. These issues involve networking, computer hardware and software, as well as formats for certain consumer electronics products such as analog and/or digital HDTV.

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