|Realism and a General Economy of the Link
Currents in Electronic Literacy Spring 2001 (4), <http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/
Much of the writing on navigation and rhetorical architecture in hypertext appears to treat the context of reading and writing as null conditions, that is, that the meaning or status of what is read remains neutral in the face of different readers performing different readings. This might appear surprising, given that a great deal of hypertext theory is written by humanities scholars who know something of the role of context in writing and interpretation, but it appears that hypertext linking has assumed no more status than that of a neutral connection. This seems to reflect an instrumental understanding of communication flow in which a message is encoded for a sender to receive and decode, and in such a model an emphasis is placed on the exclusion of "noise" which would hinder the successful transmission and reception of this message.
Hayles has extensively explored the theoretical assumptions of communication as information and its relevance to contemporary electronic cultures and literature (Hayles, Chaos Bound, Posthuman). It is worth noting the affinity between an emphasis on the preservation of transparency in the movement of information, and the similar emphasis on transparency in hypertext design considered in terms of link architectures. When Nielsen writes
It is apparent that the use value of the link is only in relation to its role as an informational marker or indicator and that its context is neutralised by the redundant nature of the link origin (Landow and Nielsen's "rhetoric of departure") but also in the work the link is understood to perform in its passage of connection.