Online Communication: Linking Technology, Identity, and Culture

By Andrew F. Wood; Matthew J. Smith | Go to book overview

APPENDIX A
INTRODUCTION TO HYPERTEXT
MARKUP LANGUAGE

In this appendix, we offer a brief overview of some of the technical components to building a web page. In this effort, we recognize that keeping up with the changing standards and protocols for Web site design is impossible. The World Wide Web (WWW) changes constantly, and so do the means to contribute to this “docuverse. Nonetheless, we offer this brief overview to provide some guidance as you develop your first contributions to the Web. We begin with an overview of hypertext markup language (HTML) before describing some key hypertext “tags. We conclude with a note on uploading and downloading files.

HTML is really a form of word processing. Hypertext refers to the ability of documents placed on the WWW to be read in more than two dimensions. In other words, rather than having the choice of reading a document from top to bottom or left to right—or in any other set of directions on a flat sheet of paper—hypertext allows the author to craft pages in three or (theoretically) more dimensions. Imagine several sheets of paper stacked on top of one another. Typically, the reader will progress through each page in linear fashion, one after another. In hypertext, the reader has that option. But he or she also has the option of moving from concept to concept, page to page, through the pages. As Fig. A.1 illustrates, the reader and/or page author is free to choose a piece of information and then create a link between that information and some text on another page.

This concept of hypertext is similar to “hyperspace” as demonstrated in the film, Star Wars. In hyperspace, our heroes were able to evade the evil empire by creating “holes” in space from which they could “jump” from one location to another with ease, instantaneously. Hypertext allows people to consume texts in any order, “jumping” from idea to idea as they wish. Authors of hypertext documents shape this experience somewhat by placing links in their pages, suggesting connections between documents that may not be so apparent from a traditional linear order. As discussed in chapter 2, this hypertext business raises serious questions about the power of authorship and the responsibilities of readership. But our purpose here is to explore the ways in which you can craft textual spaces that enable the reader to discover connections across, between, and beyond your words.

So far, we've figured out the “hypertext” in hypertext markup language; now let's tackle the “markup” part. Markup refers to the traditional editing practice in which the author takes a pen and literally “marks up” the page with extra notations to indicate specifically how the page should appear when it is complete. Here is an example: You

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