The Electronic Labyrinth

The Rhetoric of Link Traversal

Readers must make decisions on which link to follow based on the available information at the current node. For systems with anchors embedded in the main text, the anchors must serve not only as part of the discourse, but also as sufficient indicators of the link destination. This places a double burden on the anchor contents; it must convey both semantic and structural information succinctly.

Several methods of dealing with this problem have evolved. NoteCards allows user-defined link types. The type indicates a great deal of information about the link, freeing the anchor of this task. In HyperWriter!, authors can assign names to links. InterMedia introduces the concept of the web, to provide for user-centred links. This, in effect, reduces the total number of links to a usable subset.

KMS does not use embedded anchors; instead, they are separate from the main text, and may thus be quite large. Landow has argued against this practice, claiming that it causes reader confusion ("The Rhetoric of Hypermedia" 96). However, Landow's experience is primarily with Intermedia, which allows for much variety in node organization. KMS is designed for a hierarchical and tightly structured domain.

© 1993-2000 Christopher Keep, Tim McLaughlin, Robin Parmar.
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