RE: inline links (Re: Online help access question)

Subject: RE: inline links (Re: Online help access question)
From: "Janoff, Steven" <Steven -dot- Janoff -at- hologic -dot- com>
To: "mbaker -at- analecta -dot- com" <mbaker -at- analecta -dot- com>, "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 4 Oct 2016 23:47:50 +0000

Well, a lot of thoughts since I first popped a look at your message and versus what I wanted to say, but some of it reminded me of this, bringing back an old memory that I had to look up.

A play called "Tamara" -- "the play you experience from room to room." Debuted in an LA production in 1984, and I so wanted to get up there and see it but never got the chance to do so. Revolutionary for its time.

Actually it debuted in 1981 at "the first and only" (at least as of 1989) Toronto International Theater Festival, according to the LA Times article below (of the three links on Tamara, the LA Times article is spectacular and worth a read).

Ran in LA for a few years, second production launched in New York, etc.

The play took place on three levels of a mansion simultaneously, and at the end of each scene the actors split up and went off to different rooms. You had to choose whether to follow any of them to one of the different rooms, or stay put and wait to see what happened. Audience members split up. Anyway, the articles have all the details.

According to the Wikipedia article it falls in the category of the invented term "hyperdrama."

To me, following inline hyperlinks is a similar experience. I haven't read enough of this thread to tell whether you think inline links are good or bad -- I suspect good, since following one's curiosity is natural, and who cares if you get distracted? That's what shopping malls are all about.

Anyway, the first three links are about the Tamara play, and the last is about another hyperdrama that was very popular although I never saw that either. Similar thing: you really felt like you were there (or so attendees reported), and you became part of the proceedings. In the case of these dramas, they blur the line between art and reality. Not the purpose of inline links, but just an interested side note.

Cool discussion. (Sorry, I *still* want to see scholarly articles. You can't dismiss all of academia by saying they're a bunch of nerds and bookworms whose idea of "digital" is PDFs.)

Steve

http://www.nytimes.com/1987/12/03/theater/the-stage-tamara.html
http://articles.latimes.com/1989-02-12/entertainment/ca-3037_1_producers
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamara_(play)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_n%27_Tina%27s_Wedding

PS - Notice my links are not really "inline" -- in this case I didn't want you to be distracted. :)


On Tuesday, October 04, 2016 11:41 AM, Mark Baker wrote:

Yup. A number of those are cited in the book.

But I would also point out that a lot of the research that has been done is itself affected by document-thinking, which is what leads to the kinds of statistics we were discussing earlier, such as the one about readers who follow links not coming back to page they were on. It is only document-think bias that makes any think that that is a significant statistic.

There are a great many studies which attempt to assess the impact of links by testing comprehension of a single page. But this is clearly document-biased. It assumes that the point of reading a document is to comprehend the document. That is a classic idea in western education, but it is silly in both technical communication terms and hypertext terms. The point if for the reader to satisfy their own information need, which may be quite specific and individual and may not require reading the whole of any document, let alone being able to ask comprehension questions about it.

I also cite, and point out the biases in, several studies in this article:
http://thecontentwrangler.com/2012/05/03/re-thinking-in-line-linking-dita-devotees-take-note/

But there are times when you have to look past the academic studies and look at the biggest Petri dishes of them all, the Web and the marketplace.
Academia seldom leads in these areas. It often takes it a long time to catch up and figure out why the stuff that is working is working. Academic careers and academic thinking are still very heavily book based, and this naturally affects how academics think about communication issues and how they test idea in communication. Open notebook science is starting to teach the academy to think in hypertext terms, but there is still a long way to go for the academy generally to catch up with the rest of the world.

Mark

-----Original Message-----
From: Janoff, Steven [mailto:Steven -dot- Janoff -at- hologic -dot- com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 4, 2016 2:25 PM
To: mbaker -at- analecta -dot- com; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: RE: inline links (Re: Online help access question)

Thanks, Mark.

Actually I meant scholarly papers and research studies observing and documenting user behavior in this area.

Example: There's a great deal of research on effectiveness of screen captures in documentation (especially software doc), per van der Meij, Gellevij, etc.

Looking for something comparable in the area of inline links in hypertext (especially post-2000).

I don't recall seeing those references in the EPPO book but it's been some time.

Thanks,

Steve


On Tuesday, October 04, 2016 11:14 AM, Mark Baker wrote:

Steve,

Lots of research in my book:
https://www.amazon.com/Every-Page-One-Topic-Based-Communication/dp/193743428
1

Mark

-----Original Message-----
From: Janoff, Steven [mailto:Steven -dot- Janoff -at- hologic -dot- com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 4, 2016 1:58 PM
To: mbaker -at- analecta -dot- com; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: RE: inline links (Re: Online help access question)

I haven't had a chance to follow this interesting discussion, but is there any research on this?

It also seems to be something from the UX field so I would think they've explored this at least a little.

I'd be interested in seeing any citations of good research.

Thanks,

Steve

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Follow-Ups:

References:
Re: inline links (Re: Online help access question): From: Chris Despopoulos
RE: inline links (Re: Online help access question): From: mbaker
RE: inline links (Re: Online help access question): From: Janoff, Steven
RE: inline links (Re: Online help access question): From: mbaker
RE: inline links (Re: Online help access question): From: Janoff, Steven
RE: inline links (Re: Online help access question): From: mbaker

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