Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: Sept. 8, 2022, 6:57 a.m. Humanist 36.161 - reading and hypertexted texts

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 36, No. 161.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                      Hosted by DH-Cologne
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        Date: 2022-09-07 13:59:13+00:00
        From: Henry Schaffer <>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 36.159: reading and hypertexted texts?

Dear Willard,

I view hyperlinks in academic publications as equivalent to footnotes (or
endnotes.) Yes, they can consume a lot of space, but using space to convey
needed information is a necessity.

Take a look at law review articles which are festooned with footnotes. In
my one such article, we had 368 footnotes and sometimes half the page, or
more, was filled with them (even though they are printed in a smaller font
than the article text.)

Would it have been better to leave out the footnotes in an attempt to
attain "elegance"? It might have made the pages look better, but it
certainly would have greatly decreased the information presented.

I will agree with you that easily found and generally known items shouldn't
be linked or footnoted - but I seldom see something like a date, e.g.,
September 7, 2922, with a footnote to a source such as which explains how calendar
dates are formulated. :-)


On Wed, Sep 7, 2022 at 1:43 AM Humanist <> wrote:

>               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 36, No. 159.
>         Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
>                       Hosted by DH-Cologne
>                 Submit to:
>         Date: 2022-09-07 05:39:37+00:00
>         From: Willard McCarty <>
>         Subject: reading and hypertexted texts
> Is anyone here aware of studies done to determine the effects on reading
> of heavily linked texts? I suspect from my own experience that links are
> quite often a distraction, even when the software presenting the text
> displays them as blue underlined words. (Humanist, for example, does not
> do that; URLs are always visible.) Then, too, linking items that can
> easily be found is otiose. It is also suggests the presumed reader is
> not only not reading, only prowling for information, but also either too
> lazy or insufficiently competent to find this information unassisted.
> Even a cursory study of magazine advertisements across a range of
> publications will show that those which are presenting expensive
> products are very often quite simple, uncluttered, even elegant, while
> those selling cheap things are cluttered, noisy, garish etc. Inelegant,
> overstated design, I suggest, communicates low price, cheap goods. If we
> translate this into presentation of text online, I suggest that heavily
> hypertexted text communicates, well, you see the point...
> And now extend that to self-advertising online...
> Comments? Arguments?
> Yours,
> WM
> --
> Willard McCarty,
> Professor emeritus, King's College London;
> Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews;  Humanist

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