June 3, 2010
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Links are better

Links aren’t distracting.

Blue, underlined text is distracting. We’ve known this was a mistake since Mosaic started it. You can fix it on your site; just get rid of the underlines and choose a more subtle and natural link color.

Historical note: Linda and I coined the term “breadcrumb” in a 1986 paper on technical hypertext for the Society for Technical Communication. What we had in mind, in essence, was what we now call visited link colors.

I just read a new George Landow paper, not yet published, that makes an important point: writing with links is writing in the presence of other writers. Experienced writers do this anyway; they know they’re part of a conversation.

I still think it bears repeating: if you reading a hypertext or a Web page and you can’t concentrate, you find yourself constantly wanting to read something else or to do something else — well, maybe you don’t want to be reading this right now. And if reading the Web for a decade has made it harder for you to concentrate on books, maybe you should be reading better books.

Or, perhaps you don’t need to read. If you don’t have work to do, and you don’t want to influence anyone, and you don’t care much about ideas, then you don’t need to read.

Otherwise, sit up, pay attention, and get back to work.