19 July 2007

Links On The MF-ing Page: a hypertext abc

as we observe the 10th anniversary of 'blogging'
and debate the precise definition of that term

i'll go on record as claiming not only that
rwwl was the 1st proper weblog
but that it's still the
proper weblog

an early product of the only proper
hypertext lab on the web

because properly designed experiments
(here, experiments with links)
need to minimise independent variables
(here, like columns and styles)
and pare down each design prototype
to its barest essentials

how best to
  • craft linkable pages
  • craft links to these pages [more]
  • arrange links on a page
  • embed links in prose
  • accommodate prose to embedded links

it seems wholly bizarre to me
ten years on
that web trendsetters
have barely begun these experiments

obsessing instead on
and hypothetical semantic 'structures'

some abcs:

  • one chapter per page
  • escape-links at the start of each page for lost visitors
  • related links at the end of each page for happy campers
  • similar links gouped, with major differences emphasized
  • linktext that minimizes disruption while reading
    (eg isolated in 'text buttons' at the end of a sentence)
  • linktext that tries to manage readers' expectations
    (eg text buttons that specify the filetype, the site, or special warnings)
  • page metatdata in the headers (not embedded)
  • pages that thoroughly massage all raw search results on some given topic
  • timelines or best-first as better organising principles than alphabetical