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Project Xanadu
  • Everything is deeply intertwingled?
  • Only connect?
  • Proust as an adult recalled the childhood scent of a madeline dipped in lemon tea and created a million-word opus. Amazon views my wish list and offers me butter cookies. (1,267,069)
  • There should be no surprises? Ok, no surprises.


Links are what web content writing is about. No links - no web. As Lynch points out, web sites are not entities but linked pages:

Web “sites” are complete abstractions—they don’t exist, except in our heads. When we identify a site as such, what we’re really describing is a collection of individual linked pages that share a common graphic and navigational look and feel. Links*

For this project we're not interested in those big navigational links that hold the architecture of the site together. We're focusing on the embedded hypertext links we encounter as part of reading content. It's the embedded links that you as a writer create to enmesh your work with the rest of the web:

Two types of links are used in web sites: navigational links that connect pages within a site such as the links in the page header above ("book contents, chapter contents", and the classic “embedded” hypertext links within the content that offer parenthetical material, footnotes, digressions, or parallel themes that the author believes will enrich the main content of the page. Although navigational links can cause problems in site design, more disruptive is the overuse or poor placement of embedded hypertext links. Links

We're focusing on embedded links in content you write. Creating links to other material on the web (texts, videos, music, games, images, ...) has become part of what writing means when writing is on the web. That means that, as a writer, you need to find out things out there that your writing links to. And that in turn means that the article you're writing becomes a starting point for a wider, broader, more extended reading network.

The Don't Make Me Think crowd is (rightly) concerned with the frequency of links in an article, where they are placed, how they are signaled, how the link text is phrased, where the link takes the reader. The readings under Style Guides and Web Designers will fill you in on these matters. But their concerns tend to envision the reader as captive, a consumer, and a consumer that can't be too challenged.

What they tend to overlook is meaning. Links provide the means for creating meaning, just as semantic and syntactical elements do. How the link is to be related to the target is something the writer has to craft. Addressing how is it related? isn't simply a matter of considering where does the link go? and will the reader come back?. How a link is related to a target creates a relationship of meaning. Burbules and Weinberger have more to say on links, reading, and meaning.

Doing notes

As last time, notes. Go to your wiki name page, create a new page titled NotesAboutLinks - followed by your three initials.

For your notes, compile a list of ideas from the sources. Use headings and subheadings (h2 and h3). Maybe use bullets to indicate developed ideas. Organize your notes by idea, or by source, but organize them in some way. The act of organizing is a way of creating an opportunity for insight.

Quotes from. Considerations of. Reactions to. Examples of. Implications. This time, see if you can organize your notes by subject or topic. For instance, as a starting point, these might be heads,

Use the sources above as a starting point and a guide - a heuristic - for your own thinking and your own notes on that thinking. Ideas do not come from the gods. They come from other ideas. Rehearsing those other ideas tends to lead you to others. Salt leads to pepper. Apples to oranges, and Samsung and Widows and Bill Gates to doorways ...

Notes should not be brief.

Readings, part 1

for 6 April

from Web Designers


from Hypertext Theorists


Readings, part 2

for 13 April

* That's not really accurate. Web sites do exist as a collection of data entities, but we can get his drift.

See also Morgan's notes: Burbules's Handlist of Links, on E-Rhetoric, and HyperLinks on E-Rhetoric. Links make web content writers anxious. Because they fear losing a reader to the link, they use rhetorical techniques to neutralize and naturalize them. The alternatives - to write more engagingly, to write to incorporate and guide the inclusion of linked material - is not considered.


Nielsen Group, A Link is a Promise, 2014



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