While I certainly will not try to define hypertext here, I will try to explain what I mean by
"linking styles and strategies," and explain why they are so important to me and this essay. Much of the cognitive
structure and the epistemological underpinnings of a webbed document rely on how the hypertext tool of the link
is used; how an author connects the nodes in a hypertext says much about how he or she expects a reader to accept,
engage, or appropriate the text. In other words, the author still plays an important role in defining the reader/text
relationship, since hypertext style influences how a reader can interact with a text.
I often hear people -- including our staff -- discussing the larger design of a hypertext: is it a "native hypertext"
that was composed in a decentered style, or is it a marked-up, linear essay that essentially uses
a few "next page" links? What I don't hear discussed as often are the deeper issues that lie behind how an author linked
nodes together. Allow me to throw out a few of these possible questions and ideas:
||Linking Styles and Strategies: A Definition|
Questions like these have a lot more to do with the very essence of hypertext theory and style than
we often admit; they deal with how the author has set up a hypertext for the reader... how the author has
(or has not) empowered the reader to take control of her own reading act.
- Are links to other nodes buried within the text or placed at the end? Both?
- If links are buried in the text, does the author typically link from individual words or entire phrases?
- How descriptive are those linked words? Can readers tell where the next node is going conceptually?
- Does the author use links most often for examples? Definitions? New ideas? Asides? Is there a
pattern to how different types of links are handled?
- How much space has the author devoted to "navigation tips" or comments on her style?
- How -- if at all -- are elements like link/vlink colors changed, and what could such changes signify?
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