Defining the term"link" is somewhat complicated, because its function appears to be largely dependent on the context in which it is employed. Additionally, the terminology surrounding the link somewhat muddles discussion. As far as I can tell, it is important to distinguish between at least three terms:
Lynch distinguishes between two types of links: Navigational and embedded hyperlinks. Embedded hyperlinks are the important ones, appearing in a larger body of text. Lynch seems to think using hyperlinks is often dangerous because people misuse them. I think that this potential for "misuse" as he calls it only speaks to the flexibility in which links can be used. Lynch outlines a few reasons why writers might use a link: "parenthetical material, footnotes, digressions, or parallel themes." These guidelines appear accurate, and indeed are useful ways in which to use links. But the approach is decidedly technical in nature.

It would be appropriate to say that Lynch's technical, usability approach guides his definition of hyperlinks. Similar things could be said for Price and Neilson group, and while this approach is effective, it leaves me wondering if what these people are writing should be considered "Web Writing." The web is not a technical document. With this consideration, I found myself liking Jeff Parker's approach to links, in which he states that the reader is forced to "consider his own teleportation," just for a moment, after clicking a link. I find this useful, because it suggests that the meaning generated by connecting two texts is very elastic. It contains the technical approach, but it allows for something else.

To say this or that absolutely shouldn't be done when considering any practice is to trivialize it.

Some thoughts on properly writing links on the web:
As far as hypertext goes, these two considerations appear to be driving forces behind the technical/marketing approach. Price offers many other design tips, but these mainly tend towards navigation and credibility. There are also considerations about SEO, which reinforces the use of keywords and again supports the marketing approach. Therefore it should be noted that if gaining site traffic is not important to a writer, then rejecting the design philosophy behind SEO can be very rewarding as Parker has shown.


The interesting thing about Bernstein's The Pattern of Hypertext, is that he seems to show that certain linking patterns foster a distinct relationship between the reader and the links. Context clues or the lack thereof push the reader to not only make decisions in certain way, but also how they re-encounter old information.

After identifying what he calls "Joyce's Cycle," Berinstein's quotes Michael Joyce: " Hypertext demands re-reading." And apparently, re-encountering information can reinforce a message, or change the message entirely. The interesting thing about cycle links in general is that they seem to act as a refrain.

On the Tangle linking pattern, Berstein writes: "Moulthrop terms hypertexts robotic when the logic of the hypertext, not reader choice, tends to dictate the course of a reading."
Following the logic of the hypertext can be valuable for writing useful material, but Moulthrop offers a valuable point. When the reader has no clear idea of what to expect from links such as in the Tangle pattern (I'm sort of skeptical as to the existence of such a pattern, but I'm willing to hypothetically consider its existence), they are forced to explore relationships on their own. This brings into focus one consideration of linking which is: What do people want or expect to do when they arrive on a new page? Linking in certain ways could invite people to explore the relationship between pages which pushes against the technical philosophy. The interesting thing about the Wiki, and this Wiki in particular, is that it invites users to create new pages with its links.


In Parker's definitions of functional links, I found it interesting how he distinguished Filler Links from the traditional Blatant Links. The example he uses of the walking mucus container is fascinating because using links in this way allows for a greater degree of creative freedom. Since the narrator refers to all people as "walking mucus containers," the writers risks being confusing. Additionally, the narrative voice might possibly be compromised if the writer issues a clunky way of distinguishing the mucus container in the main body of the text.

Parker's list of types of links for literary effects is far from a definitive guide on how to write links in fiction or poetry. However I think what he shows with this list is that does more than link texts, it links ideas. Practically no matter what is linked, the reader must figure out why they were linked. Perhaps in many of Parker's examples, another traditional literary method could be used to incorporate the text that is linked to, much like Bernstein's Counterpoint linking pattern. The fact that certain elements in a text are hyperlinks together suggests a new way in which readers find meaning.
Parker shows that:
As Parker says, the effect he is describing is subtle, and moreso because it is sometimes difficult to understand what he trying to accomplish with his examples. Nonetheless, as far as we are logical beings, I don't think what he is trying to articulate is too out of bounds.
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