If you've got the metadata, use it: taking a run at link indirection.

While I was getting caught up on on some background reading after our vacation, I read tbray[L]'s essay On Linking. I've often wanted multi-ended links too and, like Tim, I've invested some time in XLink[L] hoping that it would help.

I've also invested time in building a great big honking bag of metadata behind this site.

As a consequence, it turns out to be fairly easy for me to make associations between things and pull out a set of related resources for many topics.

Instead of waiting for the browser vendors to provide multi-ended linking[1] or waiting until I have time to cook up some cross-platform JavaScript[L]/Greasemonkey[L] magic, I've decided to implement the simplest thing that could possibly work.

[Link Group Icon]Those little “L” graphics that you see scattered throughout this essay, and will find in other essays as well, are links to a “link group” page that provides indirection for the topic that precedes them. (I'm not real happy with the way it looks in the case of possessives like “Tim's” above, so I may tinker with the presentation.)

I'm not willing to do any more frying so, for the moment at least, the links are only going to be inserted in essays when I transform them to HTML. I can imagine a future where the links are generated on the client side using a little magic, but I haven't implemented it yet.

Simple and easy, yes. Effective? You tell me.


[1]There's a tangentially related essay to be written here about browser innovation and tag soup and XML but I'm going not going to go there now.

Comments:

Granularity issue Norm.

JavaScript[L]/Greasemonkey[L] I.e. 4 links within 60mm (my screen). That means I need to be pretty slick with a mouse to grab the right one?

Yes, I can tab to them, but few do.

Silly question. If I'm about to link to a linkbase^h link group page, then why do I need the links on this page too? E.g. could the above be reduced to one, then something done with labels on the link page?

regards DaveP

Posted by Dave Pawson on 19 Feb 2007 @ 04:17pm UTC #

That's a good point, Dave, thanks. Maybe I should just make a single link that goes to the indirection page. Then the little [L] could just serve as an indicator. Or maybe it isn't necessary at all.

Posted by Norman Walsh on 19 Feb 2007 @ 05:00pm UTC #

Auto refresh suggestion.

You could make the main link point to your disambiguation page and then auto-redirect after a certain number of seconds to Wikipedia (or whichever is deemed currently most representative)

Posted by Jesper Larsen-Ledet on 20 Feb 2007 @ 08:10am UTC #

RFE: Could you include your own articles on a particular subject on each disambiguation page?

Posted by John L. Clark on 20 Feb 2007 @ 01:42pm UTC #

Well, duh! Thank you, John. I set out to do that on Sunday afternoon then got distracted. Thanks for the reminder. Done.

Posted by Norman Walsh on 20 Feb 2007 @ 03:41pm UTC #
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