But what, after all, is a link supposed to do? We've become so accustomed to links
that our understanding of them has become nothing more than a simple technical
understanding of what they do. They connect between two objects - usually two
web pages. What more should we have to know? After all, everybody
knows that a link is a link is a link. True, it's in the very nature of hypertext
that additional information is buried within what would otherwise be totally regular
text that we read or scan with our eyes without pausing to undertake any additional
activities (including, sometimes, even think). But why should we expect people
to dig beneath the surface to find something hidden (which, more often than not,
isn't treasure) when the surface itself has become so obvious?
Only a bit more than a year ago I admitted that,
for me, linking was ubiquitous. Back then, however,
I suggested that even this was true for me, it still seemed as though for others
it was almost a bit exotic. I doubt that, even in internet time, a year is long
enough for the exotic to become the banal, and if that's so, then what we probably
have here is a case of my attempting to grab the stick
at both ends. With hypertext, it can be done.
If it's true that the sheen of the exotic has changed into the dullness of the
everyday, then it's probably precisely the ubiquity of linking that has caused
us to take links for granted and to not expect any more from them than that they
perform their simple function. There's something rather depressing about this.
It's somewhat similar to getting used to being served three star restaurant meals
every day. It's apparently possible to get too used to a good thing. Having overwhelmed
us with what they can do, we quickly learned to take our links for granted, and
they, in turn, retreated from much of their original associative promise and instead
confined themselves to doing no more than simply fulfilling their technical function.
to: The incredible shrinking directory, or
to: Dr. Hierarchy and Mr. Associative