August 24th, 2006 by Hugh

Here’s an interesting thought:

Hyperwords™ allows you to interact with all the words on the web, not just links.

Sounds familiar? Exbiblio is making all text into potential hyperlinks. It goes about it in a different way from Hyperwords, but it’s interesting to see that others are thinking along the same lines.

Hyperwords comes as a free extension to the Firefox Browser. All you have to do is block some text on the webpage, and a menu presents you with a cornucopia of Web 2.0 options – Search, Email, Wikipedia, del.icio.us, Amazon, ebay, Google Maps, blog… All these and more are available with just one click. What’s very nice is that you can use it to copy and paste text and a URL all in one go.

Many thanks to Francisco, a regular visitor to this blog, for pointing this out. Here’s a short YouTube video about Hyperwords.

8 Responses to “Hyperwords”

  1. Adam Says:

    Yes, this is what are calling “dynamic markup” in our demos. Our implementation is a little different…

    In our demo, we identify all the key words and phrases and set their hyperlink action based on priority (for instance, linking to an artist on iTunes might have a higher priority than looking them up on Wikipedia). Of course, we are ultimately interested in extending this type of functionality to paper documents.

    I wonder what Hyperwords does if the linked content doesn’t exist. For example, if a Wikipedia entry isn’t available for a given phase. Does it grey out the contextual menu item? Or do you find out after you’ve clicked it and tried to load the page? Also, it would be very cool if it was extensible by users or through 3rd party plug-ins.

    If any one uses Hyperwords or is willing to try it, I’d be interested in some reviews. Particularly whether or not it is something that people use in their daily lives past the first week or two of trying it out.

  2. Frode Hegland Says:

    Hi Adam.
    Nice to hear your thoughts on Hyperwords!

    I am not sure if dynamic markup would apply to all of Hyperwords’ commands, like ’email this immediately’ and ‘print this selection’. I am not comfortable with the term dynamic markup in Hyperwords anywhere, as Hyperwords neither actually nor conceptually marks anything up (‘views’ coming later, will do that, but in a very different way).

    Hyperwords is just a simle collection of commands, there is no background processing going on at all. If someone wants to look something up that is not in the reference, that’s ok by us.

    In a sense, what is more important is the command keyboard shortcuts.Users can whip around Hyperwords with them. For example, select text and hit ‘r,w’ gives you the ‘references’ menu, then launches the ‘Wikipedia’ lookup. There are many such ‘phrases’ to make navigation very fast. Another example is ‘r,d’ (which will take you to the dictionary look up). But there is also ‘e,g’ for ’email this selection using Gmail’.

    We are hard at work on version 2.0, which will allow end-users to customize Hyperwords to the point of writing new commands, this is quite exciting for us.

    Please visit the Hyperwords site at http://www.hyperwords.net to read more about it, who is involved with it and read reviews and such. And if you use Firefox, please try it!

    Hi to Martin. I met him in the British Library some time ago.

    Big fan of your approach to making paper text interactive. It’s both innovative and useful.

  3. Adam Says:


    Thanks for the comment!

    It is true that the dynamic markup concept of inserting links is different than the contextual menu approach you are taking though both are based around the idea that users may want to do more with text than simply read it. They may want to respond, or collaborate, or shop based on the text as well…

    The keyboard shortcuts sound like a great idea!

    I look forward to seeing how hyperwords continues to evolve.

  4. Frode Hegland Says:

    Yes indeed, you are completely right and that is a direction worth pursing much further.

  5. Francisco Soto Says:

    I have been using hW a few days and I am beginning to get hooked, finding myself using it more and more. Even better, I am using more the actions that I would have done otherwise. I like the approach of making it simple as Frode said, even if it works just as a productivity tool that gets actions closer to words. I particularly like the approach of not pre-deciding too much about what the users will want to do through the use of hyperwords, and to offer the potential to customize ‘actions’ in v 2.0. I already have some ideas related to repetitive web-actions that involve financial information.

    Browsing through Amazon I found the following book related to “radical changes underway in the way we write, transmit and read texts”. It touches, even if tangentially, one of ExBB’s potential ecosystem:

    From Gutenberg to Google: Electronic Representations of Literary Texts
    by Peter L. Shillingsburg (Paperback – Aug 31, 2006)


    BTW, as a curiosity check the links in the page that says: “Explore: Concordance | Text Stats | CAPs “, as they relate to actions not over words per se like hW, but to the book’s contents through its use of particular words.

  6. Frode Hegland Says:

    A quick Hyperwords™ update.

    We just released version 1.5 which adds a powerful Toolbar function.

    This new version also addresses the issue of the menu popping up to frequently (which could make it a little annoying) by adding new Preferences so you can specify exactly how it should work.

  7. Francisco Soto Says:

    I just found a different variation to hyperWords: Diigo.

    It looks more like a hybrid between hW and del.icio.us

    At first blush it seems to provide not only much of hyperWords’ functionality, but also adds annotating and takes advantage of social-networks through tagging. All this around a website that acts as repository without interfering with the daily serendipitously hunting.

    From an evolutionary point of view, it is fun to think of which genes (or memes) will end up mixed into exBiblio’s DNA, apart from the mutations that ExBB’s team will provide.

  8. Ed Says:

    I installed the Diigo service a few weeks ago but have yet to find it useful to my everyday explorations of the web. The hit rate for comments is very low across sites that I visit, and I’m not finding myself using it to keep track of my own notes. I would be curious if others have found this really useful and why.