StretchText is a HyperText feature which enables the reader to expand the level of detail in certain passages of text to aid understanding. It was invented by Ted Nelson in 1967. In the words of the great man himself:
StretchText is a feature of HyperText. HyperText refers to text displayed on an electronic screen which includes references to other text. StretchText enables the reader to expand the level of detail in certain passages of text to aid understanding.
Stretch Text was invented by Ted Nelson – often considered co-inventor of the HyperText concept (along with Douglas Engelbart) – in 1967. This is how Ted Nelson described it at the time:
Stretchtext Is an extremely simple but powerful form of hypertext. It Is probably the easiest possible hypertext to understand. It would be hard for a reader of stretchtext to become confused.
Stretchtext consists of ordinary continuous text which can be “stretched” or made longer and more detailed. By pointing at specific areas and pulling the throttle in the “magnify” direction, the reader may obtain a greater detail on a specific subject, or area of the text. The text stretches, becoming longer, with replacement phrases, new details and additional clauses popping into place.
–Ted Nelson, April 1967
Unlike other hypertext features, like the hyperlink, StretchText was not built into the original design of the World Wide Web and the WWW browser. As a result, StretchText has so far not gained widespread adoption.
StretchText enables us to communicate technology and concepts to readers from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. We’ll be writing up a blog post on this topic very soon.