and even read them in the "proper" order.

Even in the hypothetical case of a reader actually clicking into each internal page of a Boidem column, the technics of doing so don't necessarily tell us anything about how those pages are read. When, for instance, should a reader click on a link? Many links appear in the middle of a sentence. Should the reader finish that sentence before clicking? Perhaps finish the paragraph the link is in? On the one hand an immediate click helps strengthen the connection between the linked text and what the linked page contains, while on the other it can weaken the flow of the argument in the main text. There's no correct answer here. We're often told that reading a hypertextual document is problematic because of the need to juggle between what's being written. Apparently we tend to be linear, meaning, I guess, that there's no problem clicking over to a new page, and from there to another new page, each time jumping to a new or different idea. But for some reason going back presents more of a challenge.

Truly conscientious readers might read the entire main page and then go back to the beginning and read again, this time clicking into each of the links. Certainly I'd be proud of readers like that (and more than just a bit surprised). But even conscientious reading of this sort is still of a technical sort. I'd hope that when a reader encounters a link he or she spends at least a moment trying to guess what's going to show up upon clicking. Will this be a personal aside - a story from the past? Perhaps an explanation of a somewhat culturally-dependent phrase? An expounding upon the thought being expressed, or a cheap joke that was hard to resist? This is what's expected of us when we read literature - that we taste the words and ask ourselves why that particular word has been used in that particular context. The Boidem can't claim that it offers its readers that sort of experience, but hypertext definitely invites an active sort of reading.

Go to: Because getting lost is actually quite easy, or
Go to: How to read a Boidem column.