17.453 link anxiety

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Date: Fri Dec 12 2003 - 05:56:34 EST

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 17, No. 453.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                         Submit to: humanist@princeton.edu

             Date: Fri, 12 Dec 2003 10:25:53 +0000
             From: Adrian Miles <adrian.miles@rmit.edu.au>
             Subject: Re: 17.420 link anxiety

    On 02/12/2003, at 5:18 PM, Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard
    McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>) wrote:

    Adrian Miles, in "Hypertext Structure as the Event of Connection",
    Proceedings of the ACM conference on Hypertext and Hypermedia 2001
    (www.acm.org/dl/ etc), in fact discusses anxiety of linking from the very
    helpful perspective of hypertextual writing practice on the small scale. He
    points usefully to Susana Pujares Tosca's "The Lyrical Quality of Links"
    (Hypertext 99). I admit to being wary of essentialist tendencies in both
    arguments. What happens to this lyrical quality, for example, when you're
    writing a scholarly argument with hypertext and very much need to control
    where attention goes and to make sure that it comes back? And don't tell
    me, please, simply to write well and it will come back -- writing well is
    in part making sure that attention is with you, hugging every turn.

    belated engagement... :)

    I've also written about this in

    Miles, Adrian. "Realism and a General Economy of the Link." Currents in
    Electronic Literacy Fall.5 (2001). which you should be able to find at

    It is also touched on, though from quite a different manner, in

    Miles, Adrian. "Cinematic Paradigms for Hypertext." Continuum: Journal
    of Media and Cultural Studies 13.2 July (1999): 217-26.
    which you should be able to find at:
    http://hypertext.rmit.edu.au/essays/cinema_paradigms/ cinematic_paradigms.txt

    Yes, I'm very interested in the ontological status of the link in
    hypertext. In answer to the question of control, well there isn't much
    you can do. This is something that Mark Bernstein has regularly
    addressed in his various papers on hypertext patterns and gardens. For
    example where Mark might discuss gardening as a model for a hypertext
    he also includes how a link might delight, much as turning a corner to
    an unexpected vista might delight.

    In my own practice my understanding of links is very much from a speech
    act theory perspective, though that is distilled through an
    idiosyncratic use of some French poststructuralism. Links have a force
    that is non or extra linguistic and you can make all the rules you like
    around them but this can't exhaust this force. I'd argue that the rules
    keep popping up about how to use links because of their intrinsic
    excess (you don't need to spend a lot of time making rules for things
    that are, if you like, sedate).

    So I think of links as being contextually sensitive, and you can't
    saturate a context (any context) sufficiently to ensure that the
    intention of the link can be guaranteed. I also think that links effect
    'qualitative' changes in the relations between parts, which is
    something that linear writing can't do (though that is probably an
    ambitious claim).

    Having said all that, they're minor claims in an even more minor corner
    of a minor discipline. :-)

    Adrian Miles
    hypertext.rmit || hypertext.rmit.edu.au
    interactive networked video || hypertext.rmit.edu.au/vog
    research blog || hypertext.rmit.edu.au/vog/vlog/

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