HyperBit - What is it? It can be many things
Author: Mike Furniss
Date: June, 1989
Keywords: column hypercard application hypertalk
Text: What is HyperCard anyway? You've probably been asked that question by now. And if you're like me, you cannot put together a satisfying answer. A demonstration does the trick, but a description that conveys what HyperCard IS, seems out of reach. I think that's because what HyperCard IS depends entirely on what HyperCard DOES. It's not a thing that just sits there waiting to be described, but is more like a verb, or metaverb -- a package of possibilities that can become many things, but is not defined by any one of them. Consider how you might answer the question, ''What is a computer?'' Or, ''What is a programming language?'' Computers are called machines. Most machines have a specific function and purpose. But the kind of machine computers ARE changes with each program they run. At the highest level of operation, the computer is many different machines, and what it can become can never be exhausted. It might be better to call computers meta-machines. Computers present packages of possibilities for carrying and giving shape to information, which is always at a higher level of reality than matter. HyperCard, like a computer, is a blank slate too, modifying the Macintosh with software, presenting the stack author and reader with a rich field of possibilities. Building on the Mac's hardware and system software, HyperCard enriches its possibilities by providing a wide-open programming language with integrated graphical capability and user-interface engine, with lots of doors and sticky places to hook just about anything onto. A bicycle allows human powered transportation. The bicycle is not , by itself, human-powered transportation. Add a person and a route and human-power transportation, via bicycle, happens. HyperCard allows many things. It is only partially the things it allows. Add a stack author and reader -- and hyper-information happens, via HyperCard. What have others called HyperCard? Let's list some of them: * A suite of useful applications programs. * A screen-painting program. * A database program * An operating system shell. * A front-end for other programs and interaction with other computers and users. * A user-interface creator and prototyper. * An implementation of the concept of hypertext or hypermedia. * A ''cassette player'' for replaying and navigating through information. * An object-oriented programming language. * Macintosh ''system'' software. * A first cut at John Sculley's ''Wings for the Mind.'' What do you think it is? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ One thing is certain, HyperCard isn't anything until it's run. So if you haven't yet, boot up and try it!
Copyright © june, 1989 by Mike Furniss