Hypertexts – To Link or Not to Link
You might have often noticed Web pages written in HTML – Hypertext Markup Language, and prefixed with HTTP – Hypertext Transfer Protocol. Hyperlinks are texts, graphics or icons that link to another file or page. For example, LexiConn home page is a hyperlink to the main page of the LexiConn website. A text that contains hyperlinks is called hypertext. The hypertext is key to the World Wide Web, linking millions of pages and files.
There are several arguments in favor of hypertext, emphasizing that it makes publishing information on the Internet easier. There are, however, those who argue against the use of hypertext, advocating a shift towards “delinkification”.
Nicholas Carr in his blog post, ‘Experiments on delinkification’ – a post that contains no hyperlinks – talks about how hyperlinks are “distractions” and “a more violent form of a footnote”. According to Carr, links distract us – we go from one link to another and forget what we’d originally started out to read or do.
Carr believes that the more you use hypertext in your content, the lesser will be your reader’s comprehension. They are distractions that tear the reader’s attention away from the content. Hypertext is then more harmful to your content than beneficial.
Hypertext enhances your content
Those in defense of hyperlinks emphasize the efficiency it brings to reading and writing online. It enables you to get a deeper understanding or cross-check facts by following up links to the source material. According to writer Matthew Ingram, not including links is often a sign of “intellectual cowardice”. It shows that the author is reluctant to have his or her ideas tested.
Ingram says that it might also be a sign that the writer believes his ideas to be completely original with no connection to the writings or thoughts of another person. This is a kind of arrogance that is disastrous to both the author and the reader. Hyperlinks bring out the root and correlation of various ideas and ensure that credit is given where it is due.
Hyperlinks can then enhance content in several ways:
- Navigation between files and pages is made easier. Thus, readers can access information quicker.
- Readers are in control of their understanding of the content. Readers can choose which links they want to follow up and which they want to ignore.
- A large amount of information is stored in and can be accessed from just one file
- Readers are presented with several views to interpret the content. Hypertext then encourages critical thinking.
- Ensures accuracy of information
- It shows transparency and increases the author’s credibility
An overuse of hypertext can take the focus away from the content at hand, while not using it at all shows poorly on the quality of the content. Use of hyper-hyperlinking as well as delinkification is unfeasible. Using hyperlinks moderately and wherever necessary, however, can vastly improve readability and quality of the content.