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Part 4: Part 4: Dynamic Web Sites > Understanding the Dynamic Web

Chapter 20. Understanding the Dynamic Web

A line is defined by two points; call them A and B. The direct path between these two points is a line. All you can do with a line is travel straight from point A to point B, following a linear path without deviation or interruption. Most media that communicate information are linear. You may be able to fast-forward through a video or flip through a book, but these media are best suited for presenting ideas in a linear order that is set by the author.

Human beings, however, tend to reason in far more chaotic, intricate, and cryptic ways than mere lines can ever describe. We learn by exploring, searching, and finding, by making mistakes and trying again. We often learn completely by accident. We rarely think in a straight line; we think dynamically (Figure 20.1).

Figure 20.1. The first model shows a linear path from A to B to C to D. This model is fairly typical of how traditional media work. You watch a movie from beginning to end, for example. The dynamic model (bottom) lets you jump between any point without passing through the intervening points, and can offer alternative versions (d) or link to outside information (4).


The Web has already begun to change the way we look at information and how we structure knowledge. Despite the great leap forward that hypertext presents, we still have a way to go before mastering this new media. Before we can take the next step, the Web must become far more dynamic.

In this chapter, I'll introduce some of the issues you need to consider when designing a dynamic Web site. This information prepares you for Chapter 21, which shows you how to define, design, and build a dynamic Web site.


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