It's been argued that LinksDestroyFlow
. That may be true when they're used improperly, but I think that links can be used to create flow. They can shunt off detail that's only sometimes necessary into a side page where the reader can choose to follow or not.
If this is to work, the links need to be well-named and each page has to be written so as to CreateFlow
. The writing needs to take into account that the reader may want successive layers of detail, and be subdivided accordingly.
It's not easy, but good writing never is.
So how does the reader determine whether the detail is necessary or not? The reader cannot possibly know whether the link will have a necessary detail without opening the link and reading it. If the detail was necessary, he had to break his concentration and go to the link and return. If it was unnecessary, the reader has become side tracked.
- Links need naming, either explicitly or implicitly (by context). Your "complaint" is equally valid for function, method, object and module names. If they are properly named then you don't need to go to them unless you need the details.
- So it is with links in writing. Introduce them properly by name or context and the reader will have a good chance of knowing whether they need to follow it.
- The alternatives are:
- Mis out the detail entirely, leaving some readers lost
- Include all the details, ensuring that some readers give up in disgust.
This is what middle-click (mapped to "open new tab at the bottom of the pile") is for in the MozillaBrowser
. Sure, you end up with 30 windows open on as many pages, but these are your Stack, and you can pop them later. -- MatthewAstley
Links are just ways for the writer to avoid determining his audience and making the hard editing decisions needed to keep his message on focus for that audience.
What happens when the audience members have different backgrounds?
''Communication places obligations on both the writer and the reader. The write has to make things as easy and clear as possible, the reader has to expend the effort to understand. At least with links the reader can expand or ignore details according to their understanding. The question of following a link to see what's there is a red-herring. A properly named or introduced link is self-evident.
Actually, this method with Mozilla creates a queue of pages, not a stack. EpiphanyBrowser actually creates a stack of pages, which I think I'd like better if only I could get used to it.
Also, there is the difficulty of copyright. It's bad enough when companies are suing sites for DeepLinking
, but if another author has published information on the net that pertains further to the discussion, in order to avoid copyright infringement one must link to that resource. As far as this
forum is concerned, the chaos is part of the charm.
Surely the worry about copyright and linking is separate from the worry about flow and linking? -- MatthewAstley
Not when big newspapers are whining about sites linking directly to their stories. It eats up their bandwidth and sometimes they just remove the original article from view. It would be easier for a writer to include the original document with the new work, but unless you pay them for the article it's considered copyright infringement.
Whether or not the link in question is well planned or not, an unstable link can easily disrupt the flow just as much as a poorly planned link. Having to remove an infringing piece (which I've had to do at one time) is also a disruption of both the flow of the site and your audience's opinion of the author.
So how does the reader determine whether the detail is necessary or not?
Say the writer wants to use some technical term or jargon that's commonly used only 10 people in the world. If that were his target audience, he would just use it:
- ... We use a LeftHandedCabal, because a RightHandedCabal has these problems ...
But that breaks the flow of readers who have no idea what a RightHandedCabal?
is. If the writer expects few people to know what that means, the best way to maintain flow for those readers is to define those words right there in parenthesis:
- ... We use a LeftHandedCabal (...), because a RightHandedCabal (...) has these problems ...
Whichever way you do it, one group of your audience or another is going to lose flow.
A compromise (when you expect people to know what the word means, but you don't want to shut-out people who don't know) is to make that word into a link.
- ... We use a LeftHandedCabal?, because a RightHandedCabal? has these problems ...
People that already know that word can flow right over it. People that stop and say "Huh? What does that word mean?" can click on that word.