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It's a Question of Evolving the Hyperlink    Post To Facebook Tweet This Share this on Delicious Digg This

The hyperlink is the building block of the Web and its most prominent navigation tool. While it has been critical to the rapid growth of the Internet, the hyperlink has remained exactly the same since its creation. Today, the hyperlink is evolving into a supercharged version of itself, delivering unlimited user mobility, choice and customization which will perhaps become a fundamental element to the next iteration of the Web.      Read more      Take the survey     Leave a comment

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Why are you here?
It's not an existential question - it's a navigational one. And it's as critical to the future of the Internet as it has been to its past.

If you are viewing this article online, chances are that you have reached this destination because you followed a humble hyperlink. And if you're above the age of, say, four, you know how it works. You click on a hyperlink - and you are magically beamed from one page to another.

The hyperlink is the building block of the World Wide Web. In fact, the earliest unchanged web page in existence is comprised of no more than "the definition of a link" provided by the inventors of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee and and the W3C team. Check it out here.

Despite its unpretentious origins and the fact that it has scarcely evolved since its introduction nearly two decades ago, the hyperlink continues to dominate movement around cyberspace.

You thought it was search? No way. The hyperlink is still the most common navigation action on the Web, accounting for the majority of all page transitions.* And P.S., what do you think you click on once you have completed a search? That’s right - a hyperlink.

Because it has provided such a strong foundation for the growth of the Internet, it shouldn't surprise anyone that the hyperlink – in a supercharged form – will also provide the basis for the next iteration of the Web.

Today hyperlink is simply a bridge from one document to another and when you click, it's unclear where you'll wind up. What if hyperlinks could evolve to more than just the original Berners-Lee definition "a connection between one piece of hypertext and another"? What if they brought back a preview or provided a selection of relevant places to go? What if they were dynamic and adapted to your searches, understood what you've read, browsed, listen to, watched or bought? Imagine a giant recommendation engine that was no longer confined to just to amazon or ebay, but could be there to help you on all pages of the internet.

This is the evolution of the hyperlink and it has already begun. It will help build a web that is even easier to navigate. You'll discover these new links when you least expect and most desire. You might be reading about MGMT's recently released album and instantly discover sample tracks, album art and reviews. Stop on the word Barack Obama and get the latest news or depending on your interests, JCrew pages offering Malia's and
Sasha's outfits.

Today's Internet started with a single link on a page, posted by Berners-Lee in 1990 and together look how far we've come. The hyperlink won't evolve over night; we will need your ideas and creativity to help drive the next iteration of the web.

Then, instead of asking "Why are we here?" we'll be asking "Where do we go next?"

* Recent Report on Web Use: "Not Quite the Average: An Empirical Study of Web Use," Harald Weinreich and Hartmut Obendorf, University of Hamburg;


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Saying hyperlinks haven't changed over the last 15 years is like saying screws haven't changed since they were invented. Perhaps there is a reason hyperlinks haven't changed. Screws were meant to hold things together like my house. I just need them to do a very simple task. The same goes for hyperlinks. Content is what matters.

By: Steve Smith on 09/06/2010 00:21:24

The same kind of thinking led others to create the Hypermostlink... Used extensively at!

By: Ecrik Stein on 08/06/2010 09:08:44

I see a different technology with more potential... A Hypermostlink as opposed to a Hyperlink (in any of its current and future forms) has already been invented--difference being: the Hyperlink works for the world's 1.7 billion Internet Users; and the Hypermostlink works on all 5 billion telephones worldwide... employed at

By: Jalal Khan on 04/06/2010 13:33:08

Hyperlinks are fine the way they are, but I can see room for a different kind of link in the future. Recommendations & previews can be achieved with client and server side scripting, so I am not exactly sure what is meant by "evolving hyperlinks".. Cool concept, but abstract..

By: John on 03/06/2010 22:27:27

this is the future of interactivity in the www

By: jose luis on 03/06/2010 11:17:21

This is advertising - intrusive advertising at best. I say forget it. Keep the web clutter free. I say remove the pre/post roll ads on videos. I say get rid of the pop ups all over media sites. I say - do not clutter text with popout box advertising. Sorry.

By: Darren P on 03/06/2010 05:41:50

What about thinking beyond the double underlines and look at how this can be used? I like this, it's new thinking. There's an opportunity here IF they're are done right.

By: SahemL on 02/06/2010 21:13:46

i say this is a fabulous idea , it is bound to bring more and more people to the net , by not letting people get lost in n number of pages that opened up . Reading thru a page without having to go away from it or some other page needed to be vistied to getsome reference . i would love to surf like that.

By: rishabh mehta on 02/06/2010 09:27:15

I don't agree with mixing services with an index. That scheme means some private company owns the "services". Then well have yet another VeriSign and ICANN holding the internet by the balls. You don't find content and flashy images in the index of a book do you? And rightly so, you'd never find anything..

By: joey on 02/06/2010 06:58:28

this is silly. if i worked at conde i would hate hyperlinks. they are killing the business

By: dave starbub on 02/06/2010 05:53:57

Google (publisher links), yahoo (yq) and Microsoft (gaze) have all launched programs around linking. It seems like they have too much else going on to focus on it and do it right. Just like any good idea, if done right, it could be big. Innovation with hyperlinks has a lot of potential and deserves some serious thought.

By: Carry on 01/06/2010 16:59:15

Really interesting videos

By: Andy T on 28/05/2010 17:31:35

I am happy to learn the two things: 1) adding the dynamism to the static Hyperlink 2) the Recommendations engine. Usually when we go to Amazon and add a book to cart, a few recommendations are made ( one who bought this also selected the following). a Data mining and suggestive service. I have seen such feather in the #2. Its good and in the future this becomes inevitable for browsing.

By: ram c peri on 20/01/2010

It's an intersting idea, to evolve the hyperlink. The page preview idea is very cool and I could think of a lot of uses for it.

By: Pete on 07/01/2010