Hyperland, Intermedia, and the Web That Never Was — Are.na

I could easily contribute a new link by selecting the point of interest, clicking Start Link, and connecting it to a destination. Intermedia was the first system to allow such granular specificity in its links. “If you look at the systems that came before, they linked to entire pages,” Nicole says. “You link[ed] one document to another document. One of the things that we pioneered was this idea of linking a point to a point rather than a page to a page.” If this sounds familiar, it’s because Intermedia’s “anchor links” made their way into HTML, the language of the World Wide Web. Learning to write HTML, the first thing anyone memorizes is the specification , which is how the location and destination of every hyperlink on the Web is marked. “What you're saying between those angle brackets, that's the anchor,” explains Nicole—it’s what the “a” in “a href” is short for. Like links on the Web, anchor links made across Intermedia’s five applications could be precise to the word or pixel.

I am passively furious that this is not possible today. Only the web document author may define anchors, robbing them of their power.

Incidentally, this is also (I believe) why #roamcult is a thing despite, uh, drawbacks: the power of granular links is so great and so unrealized by mainstream tools that it seduces new notetakers!