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Humanist Archives: April 28, 2020, 8:10 a.m. Humanist 33.804 - hashtags and strawberries

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 33, No. 804.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
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        Date: 2020-04-28 01:33:31+00:00
        From: Francois Lachance 
        Subject: Hashtags | Strawberries | Locators and Pointers


Why I persist in calling Hashtags Strawberries...

My first posting to Humanist (pre XML days)


We concluded that every spot in a document is locatable but may not be
marked. This was arrived at by abstracting the case of time code on a
video tape and cursor position in a text file to the general case of

And the responses


In response, Lou Burnard wrote "if you want "all-points-addressability", the
only reliable method is to mark-up explicitly the addressable components of 
your document."

But what if you wanted to link to a specific spot and there is no [a] element
with [name] attribute to connect to or there is no XML ID (and no person to ask
to mark one up)?

How to pass query parameters?

I note that the "?" separator in URLs has been in what I have observed implement
ed mostly for tracking purposes.


Browsers now interact with search capabilities of operating systems. I don't
believe that was the case in 1997. You can load a page and conduct a search of a
key word or phrases to find instances in the document that has been served. But
will they ever serve us by collecting search terms to use in URL? Do we want

Corollary: Will we ever have the capabilities of zeroing in on a spot in an
image or a verbal text or a sample of audio… I would love this precision as
useful as quoting page number and line numbers of a specific edition.

In an off-list discussion I have been enlightened about the difference between
URI and URL which is germane to pondering the fundamental rights at issue in any
act of linking be it hyperlink or common pointing.

The right to link (is a right to point towards -- a URI).

The right to "to retrieve" --- a URL (URI + locator)

Why express this in terms of rights? Because they pertain to the right to
receive published information and to interact with such information. It becomes
perhaps evident in considering pre-digital spread examples.

We have this in the outside the WWW. << any bit of metadata points (a call
number or an ISBN for example). The protocol for retrieval might involve a trip
to the library or placing an order with a bookstore.

The right to point depends upon literacy. The right to retrieval depends upon
infrastructure. (Truth be told literacy depends upon an interactive

My thanks to Norman Gray for helping me sort some of this thinking out and to
Bethany Nowviskie for her talks on the need for a new deal for the creation and
maintenance of international and national digital platforms. See

Happy pointing and retrieving.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~
François Lachance
Wannabe Professor of Theoretical and Applied Rhetoric

to think is often to sort, to store and to shuffle: humble, embodied tasks

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