Price in Hot Text doesn't get the last word on links. Here's some consideration on A Pragmatics of Links, from Susana Pajares Tosca. While Price emphasizes the pragmatic link (minimum processing effort + maximal information), you can also work a more lyrical effect.

The first thing to consider when planning the links of a hypertext is what kind of interpretive movement we want to provoke. If we want a clear-cut structure where the reader knows where she is and where she can go at all times, we are looking for the following combination:


I stress "informational" because this kind of hypertext (like a newspaper) usually wants the reader to understand one thing, and to find information efficiently, even though the order in which the information can be accessed may vary. The relevance in these hypertexts is determined by the ability to present concrete information. Thus we'll need to:

  • Provide descriptive links. Efficient anchors avoiding ambiguity.
  • Suggest few strong implicatures.
  • Make clear where you are going (definition, bibliography, a related quote...). If there are different kinds of links, a way should be found to visually distinguish them.
  • Provide navigational aids (buttons, maps...): links with known destination.
  • Indexes and other ways of integrating nodes into wider structures.

If we want a structure where the relevance is determined by the cognitive effects of exploring a context made up of a wide range of weak implicatures, we are looking for:


Although the inferring process is the same, our objective (the relevance we look for) as readers is different. We want to take full advantage of hypertext's power of (double) suggestion of implicatures when linking. Consequently, we'll need to:

  • Provide evocative links. Words that are highly meaning-charged in their relationship to the rest of the text.
  • Suggest many weak implicatures.
  • Play with different linking schemes (but ideally, separate the informative links, like bibliography, from the "lyrical links").
  • Let the reader make out the structure of the hypertext, but give her evidence to gather to do so.
  • Play with the reader's expectations when traversing links, reward the exploration of implicatures enriching context.

[...] The author is the one who can take the decision of what is relevant in each case. There is nothing that says than non-fictional hypertext should follow the first structure and hyperfictions the second, they can also be mixed and played with. [...] Hypertext lends itself especially well to the second kind of pragmatic communication, that we could call lyrical. [...] The next step in this research is to see if (and how) this lyrical quality affects the nature of academic and other non-fictional discourses. Because I don't think that the first kind of hypertext moves very much away from the implicit textual assumptions of print discourse.

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