First, I have always been interested in the writing process. I once surprised by own writing teacher by submitting an essay arguing that the writing handbooks generally available were all wrong. (Nevertheless, I did get the Dutch equivalent of an A+ on that...)
Second, I noticed that while hypertext researchers are an active lot in designing wonderful hypertext systems, they usually pay little or no attention to the actual end results: hyperdocuments, and how to write them. I thought that this was a bit like designing the perfect Formula 1 racing car without bothering about details like an engine or a driver.
These two added together led me to try and find out whether anyone had bothered to write a manual about how to write a hyperdocument. This has been done extensively for paper documents: I've seen lots of students carrying well-thumbed writing manuals. I found none for hyperdocuments, however. The works I did find stated that hyperdocuments were very different from paper documents, but few mentioned in what respect they were different.
Therefore, with this dissertation, I decided to try and find out whether, and if so, how, current writing manuals could be useful to writing hyperdocuments. To give it an extra edge, my supervisor, Dr George Welling, suggested that I write it in hypertext format.