Revisiting the Hypergram: A Powerful Opportunity for Technical Communicators

Ted Nelson, progenitor of hypertext, also coined the hypergram, a lesser-known ancillary term, which he described as a “queriable illustration.” Part diagram, part animation, part user-interface, and part webpage, hypergrams are designed to serve as a visual index to a larger body of information. As technical documentation becomes increasingly multimodal, and responsive imagery designed to accommodate users and devices of all types proliferates, the opportunity for technical communicators to expand the scope of their practice to include hypergrams will appear.

Revisiting Nelson’s concept through a historical review of interactive imagery used for technical communication reveals a trend suggesting the hypergram as a viable vehicle for engaging the future of documentation. After recommending an expansion of Nelson’s term to facilitate ongoing technological developments and shifting cultural imperatives, this presentation concludes with a review of practical approaches to include hypergrams in technical communication practice.

June 7 @ 11:00

Tom Burns