(2009-07-03) Rao Rhetoric Hyperlink

Venkatesh Rao on the rhetoric of the HyperLink (HyperText, World Wide Web). When you browse and skim, you aren’t distracted and unfocused. You are just reading a very dissonant book you just made up. Actually, you are reading a part of a single book. The single book. (There Is But One Infinite Game) If you start with Marshall McLuhan, as most people do, there are two ways to view the Web: as a vast meta-medium, or as a regular McLuhanesque medium, with nothing meta about it. For a long-time I adopted the meta-medium view (after all, the Web can play host to every other form: text, images, video and audio) (HyperMedia), but I am convinced now that the other view is equally legitimate, and perhaps more important. The Web is a regular medium whose language is the hyperlink.

But though hyperlinking can weave through any sort of content, it has a special relation to the written word... The difference lies in the fact that the entire world of human experience has been textualized online. (Hmm, maybe that will change - after all...

  • images can have Image Maps layered over
  • Video can be have synched transcripts, which could in theory be extended via link (like TED talks)
    • so you could do the same thing with verbal (not just spoken-word) audio

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