Embedded: Recovering context

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Embedded anchors are part of the episodic content, bringing some word or a portion of an image to the fore. This not only indicates an acteme of a decision point in the content, but emphatically privileges that anchor text within an overall reading. Embedded anchors thus function as an integral part of the node, both connotatively and denotatively. For example, this hypertext paper embeds denotative text anchors to refer to other pages of text while occasionally throwing in a connotative themed anchor.

It's how you embed

It is not the link that creates this semiotic emphasis, but the decorations of the anchor. Compare the modest anchor emphasis in the Changing Room [8] or ~water ~water ~water [59] with the density of The Unknown's [56] moderate decorations or even the stronger striking emphasis in I'm Simply Saying [35].

Zenobia, Queen of Palmyria [10] presents an unusual case as Dickey embeds the anchor within a larger graphic, thus bringing the anchored part of the graphic to the forefront of illiation and meaning.

Strickland overlays two layers of emphasis of color and non-color in her embedded links, thus ironically underplaying the significance of the embedded anchor.

Afterimage [7] embeds an anchor on the last word of the node to the next node, providing an unusual linear connotative link. The last word takes on an enormous importance: "What I am about." "The Afterimage ."

It's where you embed

The choice of where to locate a link within a lexia can be critical to determining the meaning and relationship of the link:

  • Phoneme: Draws the reader's attention to the portions of the word and creates new meaning ("My father was watching").
  • Entire word or couple of words: Shows the relations between the word and text at the sentence or higher level ("my father was watching our every move.") Wikipedia [68]and this paper use dense denotative links in the content, indicating further reading on that subject. The Unknown [56] use the same anchoral word for different destinations, providing a connotative interpretation of the word in relation to its position in the lexia. Afterimage's [7] word link at the end of each lexia show relations between the word and the next lexia. The Jew's Daughter [45] takes a pivotal word and revolves the text around that word. Most sites and works in our survey (both efferent and aesthetic) that used embedded anchors used words.
  • Phrase: Plays one portion of a sentence off another, bringing an idea, place, time, or other portion to the fore. ("As she got dressed, I looked up and knew that my father was watching our every move.") The Pines at Walden Pond [39] occasionally uses phrases to illustrate an idea ("core of their being"). Reach [28] uses it occasionally, but as every phrase or sentence is linked, the anchoral emphasis is diluted and quite weak. Phrases can also be efferent, as Adaptive Path's [1] invitation to "read more" or "explain further."
  • Line: Works analogously to a line in poetry (containing a thought that can be separated and combined with the whole). Firefly's [34] anchors change one line of a poem at a time, showing the relations between a line and a stanza.
  • Sentence: Can create an emphasis by pulling an entire thought from the lexia. Reach uses sentence anchors, but again, this emphasis is weak.
  • Paragraph: Can emphasize one portion of the lexia. Charmin' Cleary [16] uses anchoral paragraphs. However, like Reach, as every paragraph is linked, the anchors are not emphasized and thus do not serve a denotative nor connotative function in the work.

It's when you embed and when readers leave

Embedded text anchors provide two reader tasks: interpreting the context of the emphasis and deciding when to trigger the anchor:

read read read <anchor > (metaread: Why is this emphasized? What is the connection to other text? This isn't underlined, indicating a footnote or side thought. Should I click?) read read read read <anchor> (metaread: Why is this emphasized? What is the connection to other text? This is blue, indicating another page. Should I click?) read read read read read read read read.

The vast majority of efferent sites did not use embedded anchors. Questacon [55] and A List Apart [2] did use embedded anchors--the former to attract kids to find out more about locations mentioned in a pen pal's letter and the latter to bolster arguments in an article. Are efferent sites shying away from embedded links because they want readers to finish an article before exploring connections?

Aesthetic works are more evenly divided, perhaps because authors wish to emphasize and explore connections.

Its who is embedding

The Wikipedia [68], an efferent site, abounds and revels in links. This reflects the community of writers and readers who produce this work, as anyone can add a link--and comes closest to the Nelson/Vannevar Bush/early HT community ideals of creating trails and paths through sites and works.

It's how much is embedded in one anchor

At the extreme, the entire content of the node is itself an anchor.  Popup ads and banners are the most common form of this extreme use of embedded anchor.  With popup ad, the entire window is an anchor that can be activated.  Banner ads function independantly of the screen to present separate anchors from the screen content.

W hen  the entire content of a node becomes an anchor, the semiotic function of the anchor is somewhat mitigated.  For example, as readers become familiar with the anchor placement in Charmin' Cleary [16], they are less likely to consider the content of that anchor as somehow connected to that destination node. Charmin' Cleary places three anchors per each node according to a navigationally based rather than content based schema.  The top third of the screen takes the reader to a node on the "Her story" path.  The middle third of the screen takes the reader to a node on the "His story" path and the bottom third of the screen takes the reader to a node on the "Other guys" path.

When larger chunks or the entire node are embedded anchors, such as brandchannel [5], readers come to view the overall whole of the text as a whole. This leads to the expectation that the anchor is placed due to physical space considerations rather than anything specific in the content of the anchor.