Thinking about Linking

by Bob DuCharme

I'll be using this weblog to discuss issues about linking that I've been researching. What do I mean by "linking"? I'll start with two definitions of linking that I like:

  • The Dexter Model: "Links are entities that represent relations between other components." ("Components correspond to what is typically thought of as nodes in a hypertext network.")

  • XLink: "An XLink link is an explicit relationship between resources or portions of resources." ("As discussed in IETF RFC 2396, a resource is any addressable unit of information or service.")

For my own purposes, I'll generalize from these two definitions a bit to this: the identification of related information using an addressing system that lets the reader locate the information—for example, Genesis 1:20, Hamlet III i, 163 U.S. 537, Mencius 5B 1:6, or

You may have a different definition, particularly if you're talking about sausages, metal chains, the Mod Squad, secret chimps or even hypertext. Hypertext is an application of links that makes certain assumptions about their role and especially user interface, and it's what got a lot of people thinking about linking in the first place, but I plan to think in more general terms. In fact, untangling the relationship between hypertext and linking will be a recurring theme here.

Take a look at some of my linking-related work to get an idea of how I got where I am.

What do you think?