Browsed by
Tag: hypertext

No Blog Post Is an Island [en]

No Blog Post Is an Island [en]

[fr] Une des grandes difficultés dans l'art de bloguer: intégrer des liens à son texte. D'une part parce que les liens rajoutent une dimension au texte, perçant en quelque sorte des trous dans celui-ci par lesquels le lecteur est libre de s'échapper, à la façon des "livres dont vous êtes le héros" de notre adolescence, et d'autre part parce que la nature hypertexte du web donne à l'intertextualité une place capitale. Un article de blog n'est pas une île isolée, mais un fragment textuel nageant au milieu d'un océan d'autres fragments similaires, avec lequel il a des liens plus ou moins proches, que la bonne maîtrise de l'hyperlien permet d'expliciter. Ceci nécessite, outre une habileté avec les mots (pour pouvoir retourner sa phrase dans le sens qui permet un bon ancrage du lien), une certaine culture des autres textes entourant le sien. Sinon, comment faire des liens qui feront sens?

Fellow blogger Adam Tinworth points to a leaked memo from The Guardian encouraging internal linking. He shares his astonishment on Facebook “that this still isn’t standard practice at most places”. I am not that astonished, I have to say.

During my many years as blog editor-in-chief and teaching blogging to students, I have seen again and again that from a technical point of view, aside from managing to write in your own personal voice, the most difficult aspect of blogging to master is integrating hyperlinks into your writing.

Autour du chalet, colliers de perles

I think this is because writing well with hyperlinks requires one to write differently. It is not just about “writing and then adding links”.

Adding meaningful hyperlinks to your sentences is going to have an impact on the way you construct them. You need to be comfortable shuffling the words around, or looking for others, so that you end up with a phrase that provides you with adequate anchor text for the link you want to insert.

Most people’s training in writing is probably in standalone texts. Offline writing, the type that worked well on paper. Your reader starts at the top, and finishes at the bottom. You may have footnotes and references, but nothing as dramatic as a hyperlink, which literally pokes a hole in your text.

I like to think of hyperlinks as adding an extra dimension to a text. Normal text is 1D. Just follow it through. Hypertext is 2D at least — remember those books we must all have read as teenagers? If you go right, head to page 16, but if turn left, run off to page 67?

So, the first challenge in writing with links is finding a gracious way to anchor all those links into your words.

The second challenge is less obvious, but even more important: intertextuality.

Intertextuality” is a rather vast topic, but it generally has to do with the fact that how you understand or read one text can be shaped by your knowledge of another. References or allusions, explicit or not, that connect different texts.

On the web, everything we write is swimming in a sea of other interconnected texts. It’s not called the World Wide Web for nothing, dammit. Everything that is published on the web is stitched together. The blog post you are writing now is not an island, it is swimming alongside all sorts of other pieces of writing. How you position your piece of writing amongst the others may be just as important as the writing itself.

Intertextuality in the world of hypertext is a crucial thing to be aware of.

What are you going to link to? What is there out there that complements your writing, or takes your reader further, or down a parallel path? What are the associations between parts of your writing and preexisting writing?

This requires, in addition to the will to connect one’s writing into this existing web, some degree of knowledge of what is out there. Culture. Or dexterity in the use of the search engine. Or both.

I agree with Adam: internal linking should be a no-brainer. I do it a lot on Climb to the Stars: whenever I’m writing a blog post, I’m wondering what else I have written in the past which is related to it. Am I building upon a previous post? Am I writing on a topic I’ve already touched upon? How can I work a link to this or that post into what I’m writing now?

I do it on Open Ears too. As editor-in-chief, I have read all the articles we publish. The difficulty is I often receive articles which are written as standalone pieces, so I have to either work with the blogger to incorporate a reference to another article, or do it myself as part of the editing process. But as I mentioned above, adding links changes the way you write and construct your text, so “adding a link” is rarely as straightforward as “just adding a link” — and in some cases can only difficultly be done if it wasn’t planned for from the start.

When I was discovering the web, one of the first sites I spent a lot of time reading was The Psychology of Cyberspace. It’s still online, and I encourage you to visit it: as the author explains, it is an online book, that is, written with hypertext in mind.

There is a table of contents, but in addition to that, inside the chapters, there are links to other chapters whenever there is a mention or a passing reference to something covered elsewhere. This frees the reader to wander around in the order they wish, and avoids redundancy — if you need to explain X again, just link to it. I think this was a very good learning example for me of how to build text online.

So now. How would you teach people the skills to do this, when it doesn’t seem to come naturally to them?

Similar Posts:

Some Thoughts on Blogging: Original Content, Linking, Engaging [en]

Some Thoughts on Blogging: Original Content, Linking, Engaging [en]

[fr] Quelques réflexions sur l'enseignement de l'art du blog.

I like teaching people about blogging. Right now I have nearly 100 students who are learning to blog, with varying enthusiasm and success. Teaching blogging makes me realize that this mode of expression which comes naturally to me is not that easy to master. Here are a couple of the main hurdles I’ve noticed for the student-blogger:

  • Original content. It seems obvious that a blog will contain original content, but in the age of Tumblr (I love Tumblr) and Facebook (I love Facebook) and Twitter (I love Twitter) it seems there is a bias towards republishing rather than creating. One of the things that make a blog a blog is the fact that the blogger has taken the trouble to think and try and communicate ideas or experiences or emotions to their reader, in the written form. Some early attempts at blogging resemble Facebook walls.
  • Links. Writing in hypertext is not easy. A blog is not an island. A blog is connected to many other pages on the web, be they blog articles or not. It’s caught in the web. It’s part of the web. A blog which never links elsewhere? Might be a journal or a memoir, but it’s missing out on something. What do I link to? When? Which words do I place my links on? The art of linking is full of subtleties.
  • Engaging. Blogging is about writing, but also about reading and responding. Links ensure that a blog doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The parallel human activity is responding to comments, reading other bloggers, linking to them socially, and actually engaging with content found elsewhere. Some will say “comment on other people’s articles”, but that is not the whole story. Leaving a superficial comment is not it. Trying to understand the other, daring to challenge and disagree (respectfully), push thoughts further and drag others out of their comfort zone: there is something philosophical about the practice of blogging.

Some things are relatively easily taught: how to hit publish; how to write in an informal voice; how to dare being subjective. But how do you teach engagement? How do you teach debate? I know the Anglo-Saxon (at least American) school curriculum includes debating. Switzerland, sadly, doesn’t — and we tend to shy away from it, or end up in “dialogues de sourds” with two polarised camps each trying to convert the other.

2nd Back to Blogging Challenge, day 7. On the team: Nathalie Hamidi(@nathaliehamidi), Evren Kiefer (@evrenk), Claude Vedovini (@cvedovini), Luca Palli (@lpalli), Fleur Marty (@flaoua), Xavier Borderie (@xibe), Rémy Bigot (@remybigot),Jean-François Genoud (@jfgpro), Sally O’Brien (@swissingaround), Marie-Aude Koiransky (@mezgarne), Anne Pastori Zumbach (@anna_zap), Martin Röll (@martinroell), Gabriela Avram (@gabig58), Manuel Schmalstieg (@16kbit), Jan Van Mol (@janvanmol), Gaëtan Fragnière (@gaetanfragniere), Jean-François Jobin (@gieff). Hashtag:#back2blog.

Similar Posts:

Faites des liens, ne demandez pas! [fr]

Faites des liens, ne demandez pas! [fr]

[en] Please don't send e-mails asking if you can link to my site. Yes, you can. You can link to any site you want. The whole web is built upon the premise that anybody can create a link to any web page. It's what make the web the web.

Le web (“internet” pour certains”) est une collection de pages en HTML liées entre elles. Ce sont les liens qui tiennent ensemble le web. Et ce sont aussi les liens qui en font un réseau, un endroit riche, un lieu de conversations et de partage.

Alors de grâce — ne me demandez pas si vous pouvez faire un lien vers mon site. **Ne demandez à personne si vous pouvez faire un lien vers leur site.** Faites simplement un lien. Pas besoin d’autorisation pour ça.

Vous imaginez, si chaque fois que je faisais un lien, je devais demander au propriétaire du site en question son autorisation? Et vous imaginez, pour les éditeurs de sites populaires comme [Boing Boing](, le temps qu’ils passeraient noyés dans des e-mails à répondre à des demandes d’autorisation de liens? Ce serait invivable. Tellement invivable que ça ne fonctionnerait pas. On ne ferait plus de liens, on n’écrirait plus, le web mourrait à petit feu.

**Quand faut-il demander?** Demandez, clairement, si vous allez rendre publics des faits concernant une autre personne qui ne sont pas déjà publics, et si vous avez un doute quant à sa réaction. Alors oui, parfois, ça peut prendre la forme d’un lien. Mais le lien est ici secondaire — c’est le texte qui peut poser problème. Dire “tel et tel est mon client”, si le client en question n’est pas d’accord que la collaboration soit rendue publique, ce n’est pas forcément une bonne idée — avec ou sans lien.

Puisque j’y suis, une exhortation: ne faites pas de vos pages, sites, blogs, articles ou billets des culs-de-sac du web. Vous faites référence à une information que vous avez trouvée ailleurs sur le web? **Faites un lien.** Vous parlez de quelqu’un? **Faites un lien vers son blog ou son site.** Donnez à vos lecteurs l’occasion d’accéder aux mêmes informations que vous, de voir sur quoi vous vous êtes basés pour écrire votre texte.

Mais de grâce, n’envoyez plus d’e-mails qui commencent avec “Bonjour, j’aimerais faire un lien vers votre site…” — c’est inutile et c’est un gaspillage du temps de votre destinataire.

*A l’attention de ceux ou celles qui m’ont envoyé des e-mails du genre: soyez rassurés, je ne vous en veux point. Je sais que votre demande part d’une bonne intention — celle de respecter l’autre et de faire les choses dans les formes. J’espère que vous êtes maintenant rassurés qu’il est tout à fait accepté de faire tous les liens que l’on désire sans demander à qui que ce soit leur autorisation. Faites des liens! faites des liens!*

Similar Posts: