The semiotic effect of connection

Karin Wenz, Assistant Professor of English, University of Kassel

What is the effect of connection from a semiotic point of view? FollowingPeirce, connection has two possible functions: connection effected by contiguity is the basis of the indexical sign. One segment points to the other. This is the principle of anaphora, and of hypertextual instructions. They point to other nodes which are related in a causal way. The other possibility is connection by similarity or analogy, which is the basis of the iconic sign. This iconic connection is used above all in connections between nodes of different codes: linguistic, visual,musical, codes which are all inherent in hypertext.

Connection or links are the main features of hypertextuality, as Landow(1994) points out. Links in hypertexts are like spatial contiguity in other media. Linking has often been described as non-hierarchical (Bolter1990, Kuhlen 1991), but an invisible kind of hierarchy results in the different densities of chunks and nodes. This density creates a new proximity and distance. By frequent use, hypertextual nodes develop to so called "islands"in the hypertextual net. This development is based on the degree of log-intime and access possibility. These islands of hypertextual preference arethe result of the semiotic processes of differentiation, oppositions generate textual meaning.

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