Pyramid outline versus complex linking

What a pyramid outline provides is a ready sense of overall organization, ease of survey, and a way of orienting oneself in the hypertext.

This is helpful for the reader who may get confused about how the current set of nodes relates to larger structures of argument or exposition. In addition, access to a nearby overview becomes important when readers may drop into a web site at any point as a result of Google references.

On the other hand, a pyramid outline restricts the play of associations and "hypertextual" effects, because it gives the reader a predefined map of the whole.

It also puts pressure on the author to keep everything in a neat tree structure containing relatively independent groups of nodes.

In the HTML presentation of the project hypertext the pyramid outline would likely not be visible in the way the Tinderbox map shows it, but the relation of a general outline to subordinate outlines is still clear enough to exert these pressures.

As ways of counteracting the dominance of the outline in the reader's experience, the text tries several maneuvers.

First, the pyramid outline links to only about a third of the hypertext.

Second, the nodes referenced by a given outline are tangled with other expository nodes in a region that the outline lets you into but does not completely map.

Third, there are many cross links that jump the reader sideways from one region to another. (An issue: should these be distinguished in some way?)

Fourth, there are lengthy expository regions that are outside the purview of the outline.

Fifth, the narrative and descriptive nodes are not arranged in neat regions but rather in a linked net that follows no overall plan, with the individual narratives cut up and cross-linked.

These are all attempts to free the reader -- and the author -- from the pressure exerted by the outline and by the book version. The question is whether they make the text too difficult for the reading styles that readers bring to the text. To what extent can a text like this develop new kinds of readers?