Can any of you old-timers confirm or deny this or have any recollection?
March 10, 2015 10:03 PM   Subscribe

 
Is it sad that I just assumed this was standard knowledge amongst people who do webpages? I mean, I suppose the resources I used in the mid-late 90s were close enough to being "old time" that they just explained that part of it when teaching html anchors/links. I suppose it could have been some popular made up reason, but I'm sure that most of the books that I read on the topic mentioned it.

So, does this make me an old-timer?

Fuck me.
posted by symbioid at 10:24 PM on March 10, 2015 [23 favorites]


It's odd that some HTML elements use href and others use src, presumably based on whether they were first implemented by a network developer or a layout developer. It's odd that this ugliness has survived unchanged while other things got better or worse.
posted by Phssthpok at 10:26 PM on March 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


I dabbled in building webpages when I was younger and had a book that taught me a lot about them and I seem to remember it mentioning this. Anyway, it's always been knowledge to me, but maybe I'm mistaken. When I saw this on the front page I thought it was referring to something different.
posted by gucci mane at 10:26 PM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Nobody wants to fuck old farts like you, symboid. But you've got experience and wisdom going for you, which is nice.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:26 PM on March 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


Phssthpok: I'm on a phone but in short src means it references a source set of data used by the page, be it css, an image, js or in an iframe more html, while href is a link to another page.
posted by furtive at 10:41 PM on March 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


Except the link tag uses href to pull in stylesheets.
posted by sbutler at 10:44 PM on March 10, 2015


I don't know why, but when I see href I always think Hat Red Enterprise Finux. And now you will too.
posted by books for weapons at 10:55 PM on March 10, 2015 [12 favorites]


HTML archeologists may enjoy this
posted by fallingbadgers at 11:05 PM on March 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


But is it pronounced 'h-ref' or 'href'?
posted by mazola at 11:07 PM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Frank Underwood pronounces it href.
posted by Phssthpok at 11:13 PM on March 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


For the question about why href in some places, and src in others: it's actually quite consistent. href is used where hypertext is involved, hence the "hypertext reference". So, it shows up in a, area (remember those?), and link tags. src was always about object inclusion. So, including an img, for example. Object inclusion isn't about the semantic web, or linkage.

As for why things like CSS use href, my very hazy memory of the discussion of style sheets about 20 years ago was that they were to be considered closer to hypertext than objects embedded in the page. This part is fuzzy in my memory. I tried to block all of CSS out of my mind at the time.
posted by petrilli at 11:21 PM on March 10, 2015 [11 favorites]


href dref resource linker
posted by NMcCoy at 11:29 PM on March 10, 2015 [48 favorites]


Wouldn't CSS using href be explained by there having to be a separate GET to fetch them, therefore it's a link?
posted by sldownard at 11:30 PM on March 10, 2015


Yes, CSS was supposed to be used by your browser rather than the page itself, that's why it's a href rather than src. Note also that href links are always optional to follow while src links are automatically used by the page.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:32 PM on March 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


Could be worse; could be "grep" and "sed" and "awk"...
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:32 PM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


It stands for "Here, Relieve Every Finality" because it extends the limits of what is rendered before your eyes in text.
posted by oceanjesse at 11:34 PM on March 10, 2015


A stylesheet is a document, and it is editable by the site manager. It looks like a page of markup. Editing the stylesheet allows the manager to (re)define the values of HTML attributes in any page that references the stylesheet. While files linked to by SRC can also be considered documents, they are embedded in the page, and do not format the way the page looks. SRC documents are not editable by the site manager, at least not in the same way that stylesheets can be. (I think.)
posted by carter at 12:09 AM on March 11, 2015


It's pronounced "Fanshaw"
posted by fallingbadgers at 12:24 AM on March 11, 2015 [10 favorites]


One interpretation makes sense for everything but <link type="stylesheet">. Another makes sense for everything but <script>.
posted by Phssthpok at 12:25 AM on March 11, 2015


Could be worse; could be "grep" and "sed" and "awk"...

I love the way little bits of computing history live on in the weird things we type at the command line - grep is named after g/re/p in ed, meaning 'do a global search using a regular expression then print out the results'.

My favourite is biff, a command to turn mail notifications on and off -- it's named after a dog called Biff, 'known for barking at the mailman'. If you use OS X or (presumably) a BSD, the man page for biff includes a note informing users that Biff 'died in August 1993, at 15.'
posted by jack_mo at 1:24 AM on March 11, 2015 [25 favorites]


It's odd that some HTML elements use href and others use src, presumably based on whether they were first implemented by a network developer or a layout developer.

Take a look at the Java API sometime....
posted by thelonius at 1:29 AM on March 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


I can't wait until this author eventually stumbles across Google.com

Think of all the new stuff he's gonna learn!
posted by ShutterBun at 1:47 AM on March 11, 2015 [9 favorites]


It's odd that some HTML elements use href and others use src

The difference is that href refers to a semantic resource, whereas src refers to a resource with data only.

This is "semantic" in the sense used by Tim Berners Lee, meaning data that can be indexed and searched by machines based on thier meanings to people.

This is why <a> and <link> use href while <img> and so forth don't.
posted by clarknova at 1:56 AM on March 11, 2015 [7 favorites]


Yep what they've all said about href versus src.

And because no one's mentioned it! You can use a in different ways too, really practical. I was going to say "you've probably already used it on MeFi", but on looking at the page source, MeFi does comment URLs differently than I originally thought (nicely done). Anyway. The idea is, you give a name to an anchor, and then you can link to that name later on. Also called a "link destination".

I went ahead and did that for my "and", naming it "susu", which is why it looks different. (Normally you finagle things so it doesn't.)

Now if someone types <a href="#susu"> in this thread it will hop-skip-and-jump to that "And" :) Outside the thread, <a href="http://www.metafilter.com/147815/Can-any-of-you-old-timers-confirm-or-deny-this-or-have-any-recollection#susu"> will also work.

It's nice for making it possible to jump to different sections of a longer piece and link to discrete bits within a page, like we do with comments here.

This is a link to the named anchor.
Susu is my black cat, bringing this Catnet lesson full circle.
posted by fraula at 2:12 AM on March 11, 2015 [11 favorites]


Do they teach GIGO anymore or has that been subsumed into the mists of prehistory as well?
posted by infini at 2:14 AM on March 11, 2015


edit: dammit, MeFi stripped the name :D so it doesn't work! ah well!
posted by fraula at 2:14 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


> One interpretation makes sense for everything but <link type="stylesheet">. Another makes sense for everything but <script>.

LINK is intended as an open-ended resource tag but became "Here's where we load in the CSS" because no other use for it caught on. Probably partly because nobody could think of something else to use it for. Old memories include the long-ago ability to load in Javascript files through LINKs, but I hope I'm wrong.

But imagine an alternate timeline where instead of AJAX, somebody cobbled together a method of inlining dynamic content by inserting static LINK tags in the page and manipulating their HREFs through script.
posted by ardgedee at 2:52 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's a word borrowed from the language of the Hrossa of Malacandra - the ancestral shout that by tradition goes up when the hnakra is sighted.
posted by Segundus at 3:41 AM on March 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


How the fuck do you get 10 years into a web career and never have wondered about this before?

Oh wait; this is the same kind of person who uses Photoshop but has no idea what the fuck kerning and leading actually reference.

Fucking kids. Learn to mow the fucking lawn.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:43 AM on March 11, 2015 [18 favorites]


But imagine an alternate timeline where instead of AJAX, somebody cobbled together a method of inlining dynamic content by inserting static LINK tags in the page and manipulating their HREFs through script.

MetaFilter: WE'RE LIVING IN AN ALTERNATE TIMELINE
posted by fraula at 3:56 AM on March 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


:::has kadov tag flash backs:::
posted by tilde at 3:58 AM on March 11, 2015


Wait... People just type stuff and don't realize or think about its origins - they just take it as point of fact and convention? Kids: poke at things more with sticks. If for no other reason than occasionally part of whatever you poked stays on the stick and you can fling it on your buddy.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:48 AM on March 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


In another few years, some new-gTLD dot-party millionaire is going to be writing a thinkpiece wondering if anyone knows what "www" stands for, if it even stands for anything.

Disclaimer: I am old. I used to use Gopher back in the early 90s.
posted by dmd at 5:20 AM on March 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


Do they teach GIGO anymore or has that been subsumed into the mists of prehistory as well?

It's GISN now. "Garbage in, ship now."
posted by eriko at 5:26 AM on March 11, 2015 [15 favorites]


It's pronounced "Fanshaw"

It's pronounced "Throat-warbler mangrove"
posted by briank at 5:27 AM on March 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


It's pronounced "Hrothgar"
posted by Foosnark at 5:30 AM on March 11, 2015


Fucking kids. Learn to mow the fucking lawn.

Indeed. To truly have the right to order someone off one's lawn, first one must own it; and the only way to truly own the lawn is to first master the art of mowing.
posted by chambers at 5:58 AM on March 11, 2015


Hm, I wonder if he should have added an addendum to this post.
posted by bonje at 6:06 AM on March 11, 2015


Yeah, the problem isn't kids, it's incurious people. They come in all ages. They are utterly mysterious to me, and always have been. How can you not want to know things?

Anyway, back to my rock. The eagle needs to get started to eating my liver again.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:14 AM on March 11, 2015 [15 favorites]


The page says to look at the comments but THERE ARE NO COMMENTS on the page
posted by LogicalDash at 6:22 AM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Metafilter The World: It's odd that this ugliness has survived unchanged while other things got better or worse.
posted by sneebler at 6:38 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh wait; this is the same kind of person who uses Photoshop but has no idea what the fuck kerning and leading actually reference.

Why would you use PhotoShop for typesetting?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:59 AM on March 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


How can you not want to know things?

And didn't they teach you how to Google back in school? I taught myself in the grand old age of mumble mumble
posted by infini at 7:04 AM on March 11, 2015


You can use a in different ways too, really practical. I was going to say "you've probably already used it on MeFi", but on looking at the page source, MeFi does comment URLs differently than I originally thought (nicely done). Anyway. The idea is, you give a name to an anchor, and then you can link to that name later on. Also called a "link destination".

Modern browsers give this superpower to any tag with an ID.
posted by Jpfed at 7:20 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Bunch of young whippersnappers. My first exposure to the web was mosaic via CompuServe.

Where have you gone, my sweet information superhighway?
posted by Sir Cholmondeley at 8:21 AM on March 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Speaking of the lost apocrypha, let's not forget Xanadu and a couple of lost ideas from early distributed hypertext. In Ted Nelson's conception hyperlinks were bidirectional, so that documents instantly knew what pointed to them as well as what they pointed to. That idea was sort of pandered to in HTTP with the Referer header but it never worked very well and in the age of SSL-everywhere that no longer works at all. Also Xanadu had the idea of transclusion, the ability to embed live excerpts from one document inside another. That idea snuck in to HTML by accident for images and scripts but never text. Except one oddity: Wikimedia documents sort of invented their own transclusion.

My vague memory from the early web days was that the Web folks were all assuming bidirectional links and transclusion were going to be implemented any day now. Along with URIs, to finally remove the brittle server name from the links we were sharing everywhere. And here we are 20 years later without these ideas. Instead we have the power of an all-seeing search engine like Google, something no one anticipated at the time the Web was invented.
posted by Nelson at 8:42 AM on March 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


But is it pronounced 'h-ref' or 'href'?

I remember the first time I heard a comp-sci guy pronounce the dots in a Usenet newsgroup name ("rec DOT arts DOT comics DOT marvel DOT xbooks") instead of just pausing as I had always done in my head ("rec, arts, comics, marvel, xbooks") and it sounded hilariously robotic to me, even though I was used to pronouncing the dot in web and e-mail addresses ("DOT COM").
posted by straight at 8:57 AM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Nelson: "Speaking of the lost apocrypha, let's not forget Xanadu and a couple of lost ideas from early distributed hypertext. In Ted Nelson's "

Hi Ted!

In all honesty, though - he did finally get around to announcing the release of Xanadu/Xanadu Space. Here's a video of his discussion.

I think the internet kinda fucked itself as a hyperTEXTual medium when everything went to more design and traditional media (I mean, ok, the most hypertext we get with videos is Youtube layers over the video with links in them, which I guess is "hypermedia", but so so so limited).

Similarly, Evernote and other similar tools are still so so so limited by the architecture of HTML. These are external layers architected on TOP of the base of HTML vs the natural inclusion directly into the spec itself. On the one hand, I get it, you don't want to over-engineer things. But yet we're concerned with Semantic Web so much, and the various Ontologies. And I'm not opposed to that, especially in these days of so much spam, we need ways to identify and root that shit out with more intelligence. But there's also a reinforcement of the "hierarchy" of information by doing it this way, by only having simple links.

I suppose the social graph is probably the most "hyper" thing we have in terms of density of links and such. But... ewww. I guess we've architected ourselves, via the graph, as part of the ecosystem of linkage. As it is - the "you are the product" literally as embedded as data within the graphs of the links. But there's just something that seems so... static. And I suppose, that's due to how the advertisers want you. They need you to be categorized, static, a fixed entity so they can mark you and place a number on you. Analytics, baby. It's the wave of the HTML future. Links are just a signal of value, not a means of exchange, not of communication and interchange.
posted by symbioid at 9:44 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


> In Ted Nelson's conception hyperlinks were bidirectional, so that documents instantly knew what pointed to them as well as what they pointed to. That idea was sort of pandered to in HTTP with the Referer header but it never worked very well and in the age of SSL-everywhere that no longer works at all.

On top of which it doesn't scale very well; how does the Google homepage represent the long list of web sites that link to it? It'd also put the onus on individual servers to maintain that metadata, and my guess is that most of them would have left that feature unimplemented, in the same way that most servers pretend they don't know half of the HTTP verbs.

> Also Xanadu had the idea of transclusion, the ability to embed live excerpts from one document inside another. That idea snuck in to HTML by accident for images and scripts but never text.

One could argue that IFRAMEs are a (horrible, admittedly) way to transclude arbitrary content. The trade-off with text transclusion is that it would require a separate HTTP request… though that would also mean that individual snippets of transcluded text could be cached on their own, so perhaps that's a wash. Instead of transclusion, we got individual server stacks figuring out ways to do inclusion on the server side, which saves the extra HTTP request at the cost of allowing only same-domain transclusion.
posted by savetheclocktower at 10:31 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Bunch of young whippersnappers. My first exposure to the web was mosaic via CompuServe.

Mosaic? We dialed into a shell account and ran lynx, and we liked it!
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:43 AM on March 11, 2015 [8 favorites]


I have a gift for constantly thinking up crappy labels in the heat of the moment, then wondering about what I was thinking later. I'd guess that "HREF" is short for hypertext reference. Referring to a reference page which might be expected to contain hypertext.

Wikipedia leads me to this page where W3C concurs. (Guess they might know.)

Hypertext is such an obvious concept now that the word's seldom used. It's easy to forget what a radical concept it was when Ted Nelson thunk it. Even Apple's (long-lamented) Hypercard didn't make it obvious how to make a hyperlink. (Another seldom-heard word.) It also seems strange that "A hyperlink has an anchor", which is where the <a comes from. Why 'anchor', as opposed to 'hook', 'ballast', or 'grapnel'?

(Hi there Ted!)
posted by Twang at 12:18 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


At one time, Mozilla supported the link refs forward, backward, and up and would provide a handy navigation UI for blogs, books, etc. I was sad when that feature was removed. It beat the hell out of finding fiddly links that could be anywhere on the page if they were even provided at all.

Count me as another former gopher user whose first web browsing experience was lynx on a shell account, although I mainly used it for IRC. I was pretty impressed by Mosaic, though, once I finally got IP on my home computer.
posted by wierdo at 12:26 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


While we're getting nostalgic also spare a thought for WAIS, which in its brief window was incredibly useful. Gopher took over though and then the Web. Both WAIS and Gopher had some centralization in their architectures; I'm convinced the key innovation in the WWW as the entirely decentralized design.

(BTW, I am not Ted Nelson, but I'll take any confusion as a compliment and not a comment on any vaporware I may or may not be responsible for.)
posted by Nelson at 12:29 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


In another few years, some new-gTLD dot-party millionaire is going to be writing a thinkpiece wondering if anyone knows what "www" stands for, if it even stands for anything.

Man, I really want a .partymillionaire domain now.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:28 PM on March 11, 2015


This has inspired me to print HyperText.m out and pin it up on the wall.
posted by ethansr at 2:54 PM on March 11, 2015


Huh, when I had an extension course on HTML/CSS last year, this was literally one of the first things we learned. I didn't realize it was secret knowledge of the tech priests.
posted by klangklangston at 5:25 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I always figured this was common knowledge, although I don't remember where I picked it up.
posted by brundlefly at 5:31 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I learned this in library school, back in 97 or so. It took me 3 years to get my MLS. Between when I started in 96 and finished in 99 the whole world changed. I remember the day someone said "hey, have you heard of Google? I hear it's better than Alta Vista." I also remember having an intense discussion about what we were going to call the www part of a URL. Because it was annoying to say "double you, double you, double you" over and over again. Somebody proposed "the teeth." Like "after the teeth, type hotbot.com." Of course, we just stopped saying it at all. And typing it. Whenever I see a brochure or something that someone has typed a full http://www.blah.com/home.html I scratch my head. Are there people out there that don't recognize a web address?
posted by Biblio at 6:11 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Some to many domains don't have a web server that answers to the bare domain name. Hell, some of mine don't even have an A record at all for the bare domain. If you're trying to sell people things, one ought to make it so www.example.com and example.com get you to the same place, but I'm not, so I don't care enough to add the record.
posted by wierdo at 6:50 PM on March 11, 2015


Some fantastic history here, properly krufty. Some of the waffling on the nature of the paragraph tag -- container, indicator? -- had disasterous consequences when things shook out. No small measure of militancy found in the three golden rules of XML holds root in a weird toolset that allowed all sorts of crap and a userbase that damanded rendering. The people who wrote the HTML rendering engines and the people who watched them said "no, simple rules. Containers. Boxes. Fail if it sucks even a little, don't try to suck it up yourself because it only makes it worse.

SGML, so meta, so many wrong things to do. I read through some of that stuff with the sage ear of Old Programmers whispering to me from back in the 90s "always close your list items, it was a bad idea to do it the other way and they're reversing it"

Good times, man. Tim rekindled that old spark for weirdly connected media. Good on you, Sir Tim.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 9:07 PM on March 11, 2015


I also remember having an intense discussion about what we were going to call the www part of a URL.

I've mostly heard people pronounce it "dub-dub-dub." I've also always liked "triple-yew," although that was much too precious to ever catch on.
posted by webmutant at 9:00 AM on March 12, 2015


I've also heard dub-dub-dub, though that's still kinda dumb. One of the frustrating things about the eternally-delayed migration at my old job was that all pages needed that www subdomain or they'd boot you back to the main page due to the CMS backend being old and crappy.
posted by klangklangston at 10:57 AM on March 12, 2015


Always heard "Triple Dub", which seems the best way around that.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:55 AM on March 12, 2015


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