Connotative : Infusing the text and context

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Connotative meanings force us to "read between the lines," to interpret the literal meaning in various ways. Chandler notes that these connotations can change depending on the form: "changing the form of the signifier while keeping the same signified can generate different connotations. [79] "

We contend that changing a word, image, or icon into an anchor imbues it with more significance and thus generates connotations. Further, connotative anchors do not merely denote their destination, but add another layer of meaning.

The main semiotic portions of connotative anchors are:

Anchor name or graphic Link name Link destination
Brings that portion of the work to the forefront and emphasizes it. If available, can emphasize the connotative implications or add another layer of meaning. Can verify or mock the anchor connotations.

Efferent sites tend not to use connotative anchors as a primary scheme, and we did not find any that did. Aesthetic works, on the other hand, tended to use more anchor schemes that opened up more interpretive avenues.

Anchor properties lead to different interpretation schemas

Potential for connotative interpretation vary with anchor properties:

    Density. Sparse anchors are given more weight and proportionally more importance, while dense anchors can reinforce interpretations. Sand Loves [38] anchor density emphasizes the connective tissues between origin and destination nodes.

    Location. Anchor clusters in menus and maps are usually thought to be denotative, as they point directly to nodes and usually name the node they point to. Site and node names in efferent sites can be connotative or ironic, but links to these tend to denotatively name the site or node, rather than adding another layer of content. When some venture into connotative realms, readers can interpret these in relation to the overall hypertext structure.

    Isolated anchors, usually embedded, can be connotative as they directly connect from the departing content to the arriving content. Further, the embedded anchors stand out from the non-anchoral content and invite readers to play with polyvalent interpretations. This is seen mostly in aesthetic sites (compare efferent embedded links such as A List Apart's [2] with an aesthetic ones such as The Pines at Walden Pond's [39], Reagan Library's [47], or The Jew's Daughter's [45]).

    Embedded links at the end of a non-anchoral lexia can also be either denotative or connotative. Adaptive Path's [1] end embedded links ask the reader just to read more while Afterimage's [7] end links emphasize the last word of the text, giving it a special resonance: "the letter." "afterimage.

    Decoration. Hidden anchors (non-distinguished and not in a menu) attract more notice from the aha! reward of finding them and tend to reveal more secret or underlying interpretation. The more striking an anchor, the more attention and thus interpretive weight. Animation can also have a connotative aspect: The single anchor in What We Will [66]that orients the reader to a time and space in London moves slightly during the node, indicating thatthe time of the day is passing.

    Format. Graphic anchors allow for nonverbal interpretations, text for linguistic interpretations. In The Changing Room's [8] icons graphically show the character's plights: Clara's icon shows a double face, which reflects the horrors that mirrors hold for Clara.

    Screenshot used by permission.

    Uniformity. Exceptions gather more interpretative status as readers question why this anchor is different from the rest.


Finding hidden meanings

Zenobia, Queen of Palmyria [10] forces the reader to explore to uncover the connotative meanings of an anchor. As the reader must work for the hidden anchor, the only way to access more material, this aha! payoff moment imbues the anchor with a great deal of significance. "Stabs where the gaze centers" takes on a new meaning when the reader discovers that the anchor is in a bull's eye gaze at the top of the screen rather than in the gaze in the two swordsmen at the center.

On the other hand, Marble Springs [36] hides connotative non-distinguished anchors deep under layers of more obvious anchors and content. The graphics on character cards lead to unexplained connections. Rachel Cole's pen drawing of an upright Victorian woman leads us to the Ladies Aid, as she is proud of being attached to that institution. Other cards have darker connections as the town whore's card connects her to both the graveyard and the Pastor's wife. Even a homosexual relationship between Penny and Ida is implied primarily through these hidden graphic anchors.

Repeating embedded text anchors

Bobby, a web accessibility software tool, instructs web developers: "Do not use the same link phrase more than once when the links point to different URLs." [72] This betrays an interesting assumption--that anchors in efferent sites should have a one-to-one relationship between anchor and content. Yet connotation is a function of context, and using the same text anchor (or link phrase) for different nodes is a common connotative strategy. This assumption thus precludes many connotative anchor functions in efferent sites.

Sand Loves [38] uses a "repeating" anchor--an embedded anchor repeated in the text that leads to two different destinations. In the node: "through our" the word secret is used twice as an anchor in less than 6 lines. The first anchor, "secrets" is strengthened by the second anchor, which elaborates: "deep dark secrets"

The Unknown [56] provides a commentary on control through their use of repeating embedded anchors. In the node "Okay, let's talk about aesthetics," the word "control" functions as an anchor 5 times in one paragraphs.


Now I wish I'd picked a different node, because the title here should not be confused with Rosenblatt's aesthetics.
Screenshot used by permission.

Each of these anchors links to a different part of The Unknown. Some of these links make denotative sense : the first control "Control is obviously a major issue: goes to a Burroughs quote: "Inept, frightened pilots at the controls of a vast machine they cannot understand..." To make the denotative point even clearer, this destination screen sports an anchor on control which goes to a screen of drug induced messianic delusions: "I’ll admit the trunk of my car contained enough controlled substances to warrant severe punishment by the consciousness police" and the anchor on control here leads the reader ever onward onto a controlled path.

Double entendres

Connotative links in efferent sites seem to be relegated to the side as in-jokes: Saturn [60] has a series of street pictures with nearly connotative textual remarks in the anchor maps (hover over a leather jacket or shoe to find out about leather accessories, implying luxury). At Fuddruckers [19], mouse over "the greatest" in the corner to find out about Fuddruckers.

Aesthetic works also use puns. High Crimson [11] uses some embedded links as connotative plays on words: sighed goes to an aside.