Beyond blue and underlined text.
Almost everybody knows how to identify links. The question isn't whether
or not there's a link in front of us, but whether it's a link worth clicking on,
whether it will lead us somewhere we might want to go. Years ago, for his Computer
Mediated Communications Magazine, John December devised a
set of symbols that attempts to give the reader enough information about the
link before him or her so that a reasoned decision as to whether or not to click
on the link can be reached. December's symbols certainly can be helpful, though
because even frequent readers of December's online magazine spend much more time
at other sites than they do on his, and because these are far from a universally
accepted set of symbols, chances are good that each time someone returns to the
magazine he or she has to reacquaint his or herself with them, has to once again
learn their meaning. And that, rather obviously, makes these symbols less useful
than they might otherwise be.
A blogger (who, judging from the fact that his latest update seems to be from
about two years ago, seems to have abandoned his blog) wondered a few years back
about the desirability and feasibility of distinguishing between various types
of links. Taking off by quoting another site where someone else had wondered about
whether internal and external links should be displayed in different colors so
that readers would know which led where, he
then went on to list types of links: Matter-of-fact links, Related
links, For more information links, and continued on to: Quotation
in context links, Action links, Non-original location
links and more. There is, perhaps, more than a bit of logic in helping readers
distinguish between all these, though context, and a bit of thinking, can usually
be very helpful in determining what sort link lies before us. Perhaps if we encountered
more "on the contrary" links that make
us wonder what the connection was that brought us somewhere unexpected, that require
us to reflect on the connection between the pages, we'd be more actively involved
in asking ourselves where a link will lead us. Sadly, this happens too rarely
to make sharpening our link-deciphering senses particularly necessary.
Go to: Dr.
Hierarchy and Mr. Associative