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Currents: An E-Journal Realism and a General Economy of the Link

by Adrian Miles 
InterMedia UiB and RMIT 

Currents in Electronic Literacy Spring 2001 (4), < 

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The seminal "The Rhetoric of Hypermedia" by Landow (this author is concentrated upon because his work has clearly directly influenced Nielsen's web rhetoric) emphasises the need for links to be intelligible in its descriptions of link rhetoric.

For example, by way of introduction, Landow argues that "Hypermedia as a medium conveys the strong impression that its links signify coherent, purposeful, and above all useful relationships" [italics in original] (82). However, such a simple statement becomes the precursor to nineteen rules of hypertext rhetoric, all of which naturalise the assumption that links are primarily useful.

Yet this claim in its very effort to make links subject to common sense betrays the anxieties that the hypertext link generates in the field of writing and seeks to naturalise or normalise the work of the link within a rhetoric of instrumental use value -- if links are obviously useful, why might they need nineteen rules?

Currents: An E-Journal