Searching for a Black Pacific: An Alternative Archive

Citations, citations!


As the viewer, may already have noticed, the written components of my project are supported by two forms of citations; traditional, Chicago style footnotes and endnotes (see final page of my project) and hyperlinked text.

For those of you like me, from a more traditional academic back-round, here is a very brief explanation of the hyperlink.

The New World Encyclopedia describes the hyperlink, often referred to by its shortened moniker “link,” as “a reference or navigation element in a hypertext document that offers direct access to another section of the same document or to another hypertext document that is on or part of a (different) domain.”[1] The hyperlink forms a virtual path connecting point A (text which is hyperlinked) to point B (a specific portion of the document or site, or a different document, site or media held on another domain). There are five main types of hyperlinks: embedded, inline, hot area, random accessed, and hardware accessed. This archive uses mainly embedded and inline links. While embedded links “embed” the navigation element to a textual or pictorial object, inline links display the remote content without the need to embed.

The Latin prefix “hyper” means “over,” denoting the hyperlink as “over” text – text that indicates a larger schema of information than the text itself denotes. To use this as a citation opens new possibilities of instant connection between plots of information or even disparate sources. However, the link also remains devoid of context – if for example, a link was somehow broken by the removal or degradation of a hyperlinked source, the original information embedded would be permanently lost.

This is part of the reason I have chosen to include formal Chicago-style endnotes/footnotes in addition to the quicker and often more direct hyperlink.

They serve two separate purposes.

Formal Citation Styles & Their Use: 

According to L. Leydesdorff, formal citations “support the communication of specialist knowledge by allowing authors and readers to make specific selections in several contexts at the same time.”[2] He goes on to explain: “[the dynamic perspective of selections operating upon selections in other networks accounts for the character of citations as statistical (i.e., uncertain) indicators, for their specificity, and for their multi-contextuality.”[3] In other words, formal citation styles like that of Chicago style, have developed specifically over time to provide both expert and amateur readers to track information flows through various disciplines, sources and authors. Unlike the hyperlink, formal citations follow a strict public format to cite or “call back to” the source material, its author and any further context the reader may need.

If, then, formal citations such as Chicago-style footnotes/endnotes enable the transfer, tracking and communication of information and argumentation in between largely scholars that share specializations, the hyperlink instead provides non-linear connections, weaving together disparate sources, styles and formats of information for any viewer who happens upon the hyperlinked text. While the hyperlink is certainly not entirely devoid of context or socio-political intent in its production, it does leave open capacity for democratization and user-friendly readability that can work to democratize the information flow at hand.[4] Where the hyperlink provides direct access and endless capacity for creative connection, formal citations provide what Leydesdorff terms “multi-contextualization” for anyone familiar with its format.  

Much like, in many ways, an alternative archive.

What’s the connection between the hyperlink and alternative archives?  

Alternative archives can be built intentionally or organically, by a single individual like my colleague david george morgan or by a community group such as the coalition of activists and academics currently documenting the history of Hogan’s Alley or Black Strathcona. Many such archives, whether by created purpose or happenstance, operate in the margins to collect those names, figures, and documents left out of the mainstream flow of history. They connect the absences and silences that accumulate as systemic forces collude to exclude them. The hyperlink does not present a solution to this; rather it contains the capacity for unexpected connection and mapping similar to that of an “alternative archive.” In the case of my project, the hyperlink presents tags information organized by my writing and directs the reader to the exact source or slice of information discussed – should the reader choose to click.

[1] The New World Encyclopedia, “The Hyperlink,” 2018,
[2] L. Leydesdorff, “Theories of Citation?,” Scientometrics 43, no. 1 (1998): pp. 5-25,
[3] Ibid., 7.
[4] Joseph Turow and Lokman Tsui, The Hyperlinked Society: Questioning Connections in the Digital Age (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2011),;rgn=div1;view=fulltext;xc=1.

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