What HyperNews is

HyperNews is a freeware program developed at the University of Illinois.  We selected it because at the time we were looking for software to mediate online discussions, it was the only one we could find which avoided the problems of most electronic discussion software, which tend to make the past relatively inaccessible and to obscure the current structure of the discussion by focusing on one message at time (for a further elaboration of the difficulties posed by these programs, see "Affordances and Constraints of Electronic Discussions," a paper first presented at the 13th Inkshed Working Conference in May of 1996, but revised more recently).

The way HyperNews displays the discussion can be seen by visiting the archive of messages from the fall term; it's worth noticing that both the structure and the chronology of the discussions are displayed, so it's possible to see, for instance, that the first time an exchange among the students goes on for more than the required two turns is in the discussion of the film Michael Collins on November 7, when Wayne weighs in with a negative comment, April rebukes him with "Do some research!" and Ken applauds April's intervention.

Another program with similar capabilities is Ceilidh, developed in San Diego at Lilikoi Software.  In both cases, the entire structure of a discussion is visible at a glance, and any message can be examined instantly by simply clicking on a hypertext link.

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