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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • Just write like you are not using hypertext, because you do not know how it might be displayed.


    Read [Randal's WebTechniques article on X] and [Alan Flavell's comments on Y].


    Or, if you want to present a set of links the reader should check out, consider something like the CGI Meta FAQ [perl.org] which is useful as HTML or text. Although a competent designer could make it look pretty, it still tells the reader where they are going and what they should expect to find there.

    Even printed, both methods give the reader a chance to finding the reference.

    There is not a New Writing just like there was not a New Economy. I have been frustrated reading blogs, a new thing to me, because most people seem to blog "Read this article" which references another article that says the same thing, and so on for another six references until I reach the root blog entry which is only three sentences. That sort of writing supposes that people like to play with their mouse and surf the web---both of which outgrew their novelty around 1996. The medium is the massage, but it does not have to be.

    I would really like, however, a browser that makes the links for me based on my preferences and configuration. Instead of allowing the HTML author to make the links, let me set my preferences. Big words I probably do not know link to dictionary.com, foreign languages snippets to Babelfish, stock symbols to my favorite financial site, news stories to my chosen wire service, perl references to perldoc.com, and so on, but all under my control. Some people might decide to make Randal Schwartz a link to to his home page [stonehenge.com]. Someone else might link to one of Randal's RSS feeds [stonehenge.com]. The browser would be smart enough to turn things like "US Constitution", "CGI Meta FAQ", or "HTML 4.0 standard" into appropriate links. The author references the content in the text, but not where to get it. A reference to CPAN finds my closest mirror automatically and links to it, without Akamai voodoo. A reference to a Perl module knows if my local Apache::Pod has it and links the search.cpan.org if it does not. Movie titles present multiple links perhaps (showtimes with my favorite online ticket service, Apple for trailers, Ebert for reviews---or however I configure it). The author can only force a link by explicitly stating it in the text---"the president's schedule published by his staff", "the W3C HTML 4.0 specification", "OSU's RFC archive", and so on. With or without the hypertext, the text says the same thing.

    I would really like to see this on new stories. Gen. Baccus, formally in charge of Camps X-Ray and Delta in Cuba, is my brigade commander and is in the middle of a typical Rhode Island political shitstorm [wpri.com], but every article I read assumes I already know all of the other players. If my browser recognized the names and made them links to information about them. I can find out more about the people trying to take down the best general officer I have ever worked for. However, I suspect links are not made more to control the news than a lack of technology. I get to read what they tell me, or I have to do a lot of googling to get the background, which might spin the story differently. Indeed, three very different rumors are making the rounds and the news wants me to see its rumor exclusively.

    Pipe dreams? Probably. People want too much control of information to let this happen. Stay on message, read approved sources, and never mind the man behind the curtain. :)
    • Ooooh, UberAutoWikiZilla.

      Actually M$ got raked over the coals for a plan similar to this, but basically it was because IE was going to start making the extra links and they (M$) would be selling what would get linked to. Content producers and authors griped because it crossed a (fine) line between displaying the content and altering the content (for example, what if the word chicken on PETA's site started automatically becomming a link to Chick-Fil-A).

      There are several neat add-ons for recent mozillae

      • You just did it:
        There are several neat add-ons for recent mozillae (poke around here [mozdev.org]) that will let you hilight text...
        See how that makes no sense away from a hypertext context? Why in English would you say "poke around here"?

        Why not just:

        There are [several neat add-ons for recent mozillae] that will let you highlight text ...
        {sigh}
        --
        • Randal L. Schwartz
        • Stonehenge
        • It was a parenthetical aside pointing to where you could find the aforementioned add-ons. (Actually considering the way slash adds [foo.com] after links, it might have better to use `poke around' as the anchor content to get `poke around [mozdev.org]').

          Something that just occured to me is that it may be a holdover from my email writing style. I don't do HTML email (since it's evil) and tend to intersperse comments or pointers to things parenthetically or as footnotes. Maybe it's some deep seated need

          • It's the "here" that triggered my raised eyebrow. "here" is like "click here". It doesn't make any sense when read.

            If you had written that in "email style" as:

            There are several neat add-ons for recent mozillae (poke around mozdev.org) that will let you hilight text...
            and the hostname is the link, I'd have had no objection. Notice that this sentence reads correctly, and the link says what it is and does what it is. That's clean hyperlinking.
            --
            • Randal L. Schwartz
            • Stonehenge
            • If you had written that in "email style" as:
              There are several neat add-ons for recent mozillae (poke around mozdev.org) that will let you hilight text... and the hostname is the link, I'd have had no objection.
              Unfortunately, slash doesn't work that way. If he had made "mozdev.org" a hyperlink, then the result would have looked like:
              (poke around mozdev.org [mozdev.org])
              which just isn't right.
              • First off, I want to say thank you to merlyn [perl.org] for pointing out the proper way to use hyperlinks. I've done it both ways and I've always been more satisfied with the "right" way and never knew exactly what I was doing wrong when I did it the wrong way.

                Now, back to my response already in progress:

                • Unfortunately, slash doesn't work that way. If he had made "mozdev.org" a hyperlink, then the result would have looked like: ...

                Actually, the way links are presented is an option [perl.org]. (See 'Display Link Domains').