Re: Link Terminology

Murray Altheim (
Tue, 1 Aug 95 12:31:39 EDT

>In message <v02110101ac43ea30e233@[]>, Murray Altheim writes:
>>I suppose this type of thing could be the start of a religious war, but I'm
>>a little confused as to the new "head" and "tail" terminology in describing
>>link relations. It seems backward to me (although many things do), and I
>>was wondering if there were any others out there who felt "link" and
>>"target" described the relationship less ambiguously. Or at least what the
>>rationale was in making the change.
>>>From the June 16th 2.0 draft:
>>"In addition to general purpose elements such as paragraphs and lists, HTML
>>documents can express hyperlinks. A hyperlink is a relationship between two
>>anchors, called the head and the tail of the hyperlink[DEXTER]. An anchor
>>is a resource such as an HTML document, or some fragment of, i.e. view on
>>or portion of a resource. Typically, the user activates a link by
>>indicating the tail of the link; the head of the link is presented as a
>>result." [1]
>Note the reference to the Dexter model. There is a large body
>of literature on hypertext that uses the terminology this way.
>For online references, see:
>Dexterm Model [was: HTML 2.0 LAST CALL: Hyperlinking, Forms, Elements (fwd) ]
>Daniel W. Connolly (
>Fri, 2 Jun 95 10:51:19 EDT

Thanks Dan,

I had checked the bibliography, but did not know the extent to which Dexter
was followed in academic circles.

Looking at the 50-odd list of documents referring to Dexter, and coming
from many years in an academic environment, I understand the reasoning in
following the current school of thought. I suppose my only reply would be
that (IMO) 95% of the audience of the HTML draft may not be familiar with
these ideas, nor the terminology. It may be scholarly correct, but
confusing to the majority of web designers using the document. Is the
strength of Dexter its conceptual model or its language? From outside of
that discipline, the language is somewhat confusing.

Side Note: Investigating the email reference, and while the abstract
listing has a bad URL I did finally locate the document. The correct URL
for "Further Modifications to the Dexter Hypertext Reference Model: a
Proposal" is: (IP:

[There was also a problem in the document name in the abstract listing:
"", not "]


Murray M. Altheim, Information Systems Analyst
National Technology Transfer Center, Wheeling, West Virginia