Browsing the WWW by Interacting with a Textual Virtual Environment -- A Framework for Experimenting with Navigational Metaphors
This paper describes a system that combines a textual virtual environment (MOO -- MUD Object Oriented) and a WWW browser. The MOO provides a text-only but information-rich spatial user interface in which objects and locations can be associated with pointers to WWW pages. When using a specialized MOO client, navigation in the MOO causes the corresponding Web pages to be loaded. The overall effect is the possibility to navigate the Web using spatial navigational metaphors. Textual virtual environments support the creation of diverse navigation tools and metaphors. The Juggler system we describe can thus serve as an experimental tool to explore diverse navigational metaphors for the WWW. The system uses references to Web pages which can be arranged in any possible way and allows users to overlay a new secondary structure on existing Web structures, even using Web pages not on one's own Web server. Textual virtual environments further support almost real time communication and interaction between several users. Because of the extensive interaction possibilities, the Juggler system can be used to discuss material on the Web, conduct guided tours through the Web or give presentations using material available on the Web.