Everybody must’ve noticed by now how crudely hyperlinks have been implemented in HTML. I’m not quite sure how Mr Xanadu thought to handle it, but perhaps ZigZag will clear that up in time. In the meanwhile we’re stuck with this system with no two way references or any other fancy features.

But this particular grumble isn’t about that particular aspect. It’s about how the present system should be improved while keeping things backwards compatible. It’s about how links are created and presented.

At the moment there’s an unsatisfactory correspondence between the words in the text and the words used to describe the link. Allow me to demonstrate. My entry Documentary style * starts like this: Saw two documentaries back to back just now on Channel 4. The one was about developing the JSF and the other concerned the Moscow theatre hostage tragedy. Within I’ve also provided links to the programmes I’ve mentioned.

However, due to the limitations of HTML markup, I’ve had to use the phrases ”developing the JSF” and ”Moscow theatre hostage tragedy” as links. Strictly speaking it is wrong, because I’m not providing links to, say, news stories about these incidents, but am rather referring to two specific television broadcasts. A better way to do this would’ve been to somehow include the words ”Channel 4 documentary” into the link (even though it’s not true, technically speaking; the programmes were most likely only funded by C4).

So how to overcome this technical hurdle? One way is to adapt to whatever limitations one has been presented with and use, for example, subordinate clauses. After all the old rule of thumb is ”if you can’t figure it out, don’t do it”. This approach seems counter-intuitive. The TITLE attribute of HTML 4.0 Strict (which is what I’m talking about, you can go and shove your XHTML up where it belongs) goes a long way to achieve this goal. It’s not the perfect answer, however.

Another example: the footnote. The linked words are ”improve my microcontent”, when what is intended is ”how to improve microcontent (in any writing)”. One possible solution would be to only link the word ”microcontent” and let TITLE do the explaining. In the end both alternatives are misleading: the first option is downright false and the second one seriously lacking. The problem is multiplied because search engines do not take TITLE into account at all, at least not yet.

My headlines are, generally speaking, horrible – I really should improve my microcontent.

Aiemmat versiot:

There are no revisions for this post.