Linky Linky

A week or two ago, I was having a conversation about the value of having WYSIWYG (ish) editors in wiki applications. One of the arguments against them was the risk of the users attempting to treat writing in a wiki the same way they approach a word processor, and becoming frustrated when they can’t (for example) make that heading 14 point Arial. (The absurdity of doing any serious writing without separating content from form is a rant for another time.) Forcing users to use wiki markup is presented as a way to tell inexperienced users hey, this is different from Word, and encourage them to approach writing differently.

One of the ways that writing in a wiki is different from writing in a word processor is that wiki pages are often expected to link elsewhere. Look at the average Wikipedia page and there will be several links per paragraph. Many people used to word processors, I’m told, don’t think to add links in their text, which struck me as odd.

But I’m accustomed to “linked writing” — I often put links in email, blog posts, and even in an offline journal composed in a word processor. Maybe it’s because I’ve been writing online for almost 15 years (yes, I had a web page in the Early Days), and the idea of adding links just seems natural. Or maybe I’m just a geek.

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