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Wednesday, July 02, 2008
  The Rhetoric of Hypertext
No, not all the hype, though I am still happy to hype hypertext but an interesting teaching tool on Rhetorical Devices for Electronic Literature, in proper 2.0 style the site is described as "beta"... Thanks to the stimulating Grand Text Auto for the link.

On the site Deena provides (in her introduction to "links") a classification of different sorts of link:
  • Denotative: The link goes to a node that provides either the site or text itself (such as a link to Google) or a definition or clarification of the linked word or phrase. This is a common type of link in encyclopedias, newspapers, etc.
  • Connotative: The link between the origin text and destination text implies something that is not explicitly stated--the originating node gives a new context to the destination node that can suggest some other meanings are lurking under the surface.
  • Similar or repetitive: The link goes to a similar node or a continuation of the same theme as the originating text.
  • Opposition or contradiction: The link goes to a node that contradicts or opposes the originating text.
  • Descriptive: The link goes to a further description or explanation of the linked word or originating text.
  • Advertisements: The link goes to a site that sells that particular item. While this is a common type of link in commercial websites (as many sites receive their funding from these links by counting hits and click throughs), this has been used in electronic literature. The link from Deena Larsen's Disappearing Rain: "How many credit cards are in it?" goes to a credit card site. (These outside links are thus commented on within the story and subvert these commercial endeavors into playing a role in tracking down Anna, a missing character from the novel).
  • Political: The piece hopes to provoke a reaction in the reader and provides a link to follow up on that reaction. For example, Jennifer Ley's War Games shows the horrors of land mines and connects to Adopt a Minefield.
This is much fuller and richer than the simple binary choice we plan to give to authors of the HBC_ volumes. We just offer the choice of "explanation" or "justification" and links to HBD_ articles or Bible references. But then our goals are much more focused... Her "descriptive" sounds like our "explanation" but I don't find in her list anything that corresponds to our "justification" yet intuitively I suspect that we are not the only ones wanting to link to material that gives in more details the reasons that justify a particular ideas expressed.

What do you think:
  • Is her list complete, are there other types she does not discuss?
  • Does she cover our "justification" type of link?
  • Would it help our navigation of the web (and other hypertexts) if there was a more standard and understood "rhetoric" of linking?

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