April 29, 2011
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There’s nothing quite like taking a call from an Australian interviewer to discuss hypertext history and the nature of links while you’re up to your elbows with an exceptionally recalcitrant paté sucrée.

With luck, the hazelnut chocolate tarte will be tasty. Thursday’s duck breast with smoked strawberry sauce sounded like a really good idea. It was not.

We pushed back the release date for the next big Tinderbox update just a bit, in order to squeeze one or two great new features into this cycle. It’s going to be a terrific update, with some exciting features and a big speed bump, and it’s coming very soon.

One thing the Australian Historian wanted to talk about was the difference in links between systems like Storyspace and the Web. The important differences are, I think, well understood – especially the importance of guard fields (or, more generally, dynamic links) for breaking cycles. Dynamic links or breadcrumbs are the only way we know to generate narrative thrust in a large hypertext, and their absence on the Web has long led to simple, sparsely-linked, isolated sites without much interesting structure.

Another difference, of course, was that following a Storyspace link was fast and reliable, while following a Web link is a more complex proposition. Network latency means that the page may appear now or we may have to wait. Rendering issues mean that the page might not work in our particular browser. The Web link model means that the site at the end of the link might not be there anymore, or might have been replaced by pornographers or SEO gameplayers. None of these inconveniences are very great, but they all add a little anxiety and reluctance whenever we follow a link.

Earlier, we added a new kind of hypertextuality to Tinderbox in an experimental overlay layer in maps. It may come to nothing. It might be a revolution. You never know.

A good time for all, but a very long day.