Everybody seems to know exactly what an internet link is. But, stop for a moment,
and think about the different styles and flavours of internet links.
In the last issue we have been presenting classical links branching to some scientific
stuff in parallel to our own website. These links were similar to footnotes,
just going a little bit more into depth or into specialization.
In so far they had
exactly the same function as those myriads of footnotes in dust-covered library
books: in order to not disturb the fluent reading special annotations and
scientific proofs are hidden somewhere in the bottom of the page ("in concordance
with the late Prof. Grieselmeyer who published this conclusion already in 1895 ..."), or to
provide the exact bibliographic location of some content for those who
will be interested in the exact primary printed source ("see Grieselmeyer, Herbert et al.,
Transactions of the Bavarian Minigolf Society, vol. 264 (1895) pp. 260-1024").
For this reason classical footnotes are considered to be a typical property
of scientific literature, fixing every line in water-tight manner, whereas
popular textbooks have a tendency to completely skip the footnote culture ("write
it in plain words, if you should consider something to be important, or, alternatively,
do not mention it at all"). A much more primitive, but wide-spreaded attitude.
The web link is secretely sympathizing with the old-fashioned dusty footnote culture
but at the same time develops it into new heights. The web link is by no means
just a tool to dive more deeply into a given field but moreover a multi-dimensional
window to other worlds which we wouldn't have found otherwise. In the very beginning
of library computer book search a digital recherche inevitably had the smell
of narrowing one's mental scope into an unbranched one-way street. It is one of the
merits of the present search engine and linking culture to have re-established those
intellectual worlds in their previous complexity.