A network based hypertext display system employing a supervisory computer interconnected with one or more information display units and one or more remote document servers via a network, such as the Internet. The supervisory computer controls the content displayed by the display units by transferring to each unit a control information file as well as hypertext document files which are locally stored in the display units. The control file determines the extent to which the display unit can access remotely stored information and provides additional information which is used to alter the presentation to the user. Stored control information is used to rewrite hypertext document such that certain links are disabled, and to suppress the appearance of visual cues associated with the displayed anchor which identifies selected links in the referencing document. Links and other information in local and remotely accessed documents are rewritten in accordance with commands created by a content developer using an interactive content authoring system. Means are employed for controlling the duration of a given user session in response to the material selected for display, the time of day, and user demographics. Locally stored data copied from original documents stored on remote servers is periodically validated and updated when the validation indicates that the original has been modified.