Symbol Space Glossary


outline for discussion only (initially by Frode Hegland, to be merged)



Considering the influential, inspiring, oft-quoted line by Leonardo Da Vinci, everything connects to everything else, which, to be honest, is more of a hindrance than an aid when building interactive systems, it is necessary necessary to explicate the differences between links, connections and so on, to provide a citeable reference to how these terms are used.


Hypertext was defined by Ted as simply: Non-sequential writing with free user movement. Isn’t that beautiful? I take this to mean that we should not be tied to non-digital legacy perspectives nor early digital perspectives, we should simply honour the user by providing as much useful interactivity as we possibly can.





Explicit Connections


Explicit connections are what we generally think of when we talk about Links, in that these connections have been made explicit by an author.







Implicit Connections/Dimensions


Implicit connections include any connection where a criteria is used to draw the connection, such as a word's entry in a dictionary.




Effectively showing how people travel from one point to another; how two points are connected. In urban planning, this means the sidewalks, roads and trainlines. In a knowledge garden, topic driven connections are the paths. [SQUIDS: A Digital Infrastructure for Information Exchange and Generation. James Prescott, Travis Smith, Jack Park, and Mark Szpakowski]



The real heart of the matter of selection, however, goes deeper than a lag in the adoption of mechanisms by libraries, or a lack of development of devices for their use. Our ineptitude in getting at the record is largely caused by the artificiality of systems of indexing. When data of any sort are placed in storage, they are filed alphabetically or numerically, and information is found (when it is) by tracing it down from subclass to subclass. It can be in only one place, unless duplicates are used; one has to have rules as to which path will locate it, and the rules are cumbersome. Having found one item, moreover, one has to emerge from the system and re-enter on a new path.


The human mind does not work that way. It operates by association. With one item in its grasp, it snaps instantly to the next that is suggested by the association of thoughts, in accordance with some intricate web of trails carried by the cells of the brain. It has other characteristics, of course; trails that are not frequently followed are prone to fade, items are not fully permanent, memory is transitory. Yet the speed of action, the intricacy of trails, the detail of mental pictures, is awe-inspiring beyond all else in nature.











Nodes are the things which connected. It's worth considering that nodes should be able to be visualised and thought of as connections and vice-versa. ‘Node’ has the same etymological root as knot which is a useful addition to the poetic evocation of text as texture.











The spaces where the nodes and connections interact and represents the use-substrate/interaction medium.


This will likely include local spaces and interconnecting spaces including the notion of a document as a framed human perspective and conceptual as well as data spaces.


I have always thought of links as an extension of literature. Their structure would extend the footnote, the parenthetical note, the citation, the marginal note, the parallel element (marginal gloss or caption)– the ways text has always tried to break free.

Nelson, 2002


















Interactions is the very human's way of choosing what to see and hide, how to see, how to compare and more.







The views through which the symbol space is visualised is not neutral.