January 21, 2007
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One of the best papers at Hypertext '06 was Dave Millard's study of Web 2.0 (pdf), which concluded that Web 2.0 was pretty much about the original concerns of the hypertext research community.

Tim Bray's on linking starts from the other end of the journey — the end that asks "should I like to Wikpedia, or to the official site, or to the news site, or where?" — and winds up in just about the same place, back with the Halasz 7.

So here’s what I’d like: a way to write multi-ended links with simple indirection, and a reasonable way for users to display them in whatever browser they’re using. Fortunately, I have a nice link-rich testbed here at ongoing, with software I control, and the era of GreaseMonkey and AJAX, who needs to wait for the browser builders?

He has a particularly good point about multiheaded links:

every financial Web site in the world is full of multi-ended links: every time they mention a company they’ll typically link to its share price, some analysis, and previous articles...

Multiheaded links were the specialty of a pre-Web hypertext system called Trellis, back in the day. It may well be time to revisit them.

In the meantime, Bray has a good point about Another Layer of Indirection. If you're linking to something and you can't decide which resource you want to site or whether that resource will last, make a small page (or widget) what lists all the resources. Link to that page.

Additional pages cost almost nothing. You can display them in popups or AJAX widgets; they don't need to take lots of your time or your reader's. Personal content management assistants like Tinderbox should make it easy to make and organize them.

Exercise for the reader: show us exactly how this would work in Tinderbox. Email me.. Get famous.

Updates: Stefan Keydel writes to suggest using stretchtext to disclose the details of the multi-ended link.