Hyperlinks Weave the Web
Originally uploaded by Daniel Greene.
There would be no World Wide Web without hyperlinks. Hyperlinks are what allow us to add photos to web pages, link from one page to another, etc. These days, much of this hyperlinking is done for us automatically on sites such as Flickr. But Flickr also allows you to create hyperlinks yourself in many areas of the site, including photo descriptions, comments, and group threads. I create links between photos and members all the time, and it’s easy for me to do so because I’ve memorized the HTML. Once you learn the HTML for a hyperlink, you can be a hyperlinker yourself!
An HTML tag begins with a less-than sign, created by holding down the shift key while you tap the comma key. Then you type “a” for “anchor” and “href” for “hypertext reference”. Then you type the equals sign (=) followed by a quotation mark. This quotation mark is the beginning of a “container” for the URL, or “uniform resource locator.” The URL is the “web address” for the object to which you are linking. As a mnemonic device, I think of this opening tag as the English phrase, “Anchor hypertext reference is…”
Recently, I posted a photo I took of a fellow Flickrite at a FlickrMeet. I wanted to link to her photostream so that other people could appreciate her photos. This is a way of showing respect and giving credit, similar to the citations used by academic writers. So, what did I do? Well, first, I wrote the text, “katdavis kindly posed for a portrait.” Then, I decided to make “katdavis” (her username) into a hyperlink. In order to do so, I found her photostream and copied and pasted the URL from my browser’s address bar above the first page of her photostream (the URL being http://www.flickr.com/photos/katdavis/ ). Then, I returned to my photostream— specifically, the photo page containing the portrait of her (the URL being flickr.com/photos/danielgreene/2100926688/ ). I clicked in the description text so that I could edit it, and I placed my cursor just in front of her username. There, I inserted the magic of the Web: I typed <a href= and I pasted the URL I had copied from the first page of her photostream. The “aitch tee tee pee colon slash slash” is absolutely essential to the HTML expression. Immediately following that URL, I typed a closing quotation mark (a.k.a. “close quote” — same as an open quote in this case, since HTML uses only the “inch mark” type quote, not “curly quotes” or “typographer’s quotes”). I then completed my opening HTML tag by typing a greater-than sign. The greater-than sign signifies the end of an HTML tag.
But the tag would not be complete without the link text being bracketed by the closing HTML tag. So, after I typed the opening HTML tag and typed the link text “katdavis” I enclosed the link text with the closing HTML “anchor” tag which is a less-than sign, slash, a, and a greater-than sign. As you can see, enclosing HTML tags are bracket by less-than and greater-than signs. The slash mark represents a closing HTML tag which marks the end of an HTML expression. You can think of the end of the anchor tag in English as “end of anchor.”
The resulting hyperlink looked like so when I finished editing it:
What the visitor to my pages sees is a hyperlink they can follow to jump to katdavis’s photostream, like so: katdavis
Hyperlinking creates virtual connections that can lead to or supplement the actual connections we have with each other in the real world. Hyperlinks are the sine qua non of the World Wide Web, and are even more important in the social, democratic "Web 2.0." Learning the HTML for creating hyperlinks is one of the steps to joining the ranks of the digerati and harnessing the power of the Web for yourself.
Have fun, and weave on!