Monday, 15 March 1999
The previous Nut's Weekly ended with a question: Why would external links have brackets? Why no [-> icon (...#Symbolism)?

There are several reasons:

Visual attraction
Symbols vividly catch attention. The left site of this page shows a number of internal links with symbols, like << February 1999 and Old and New Old & New . The symbols catch extra attention. Have a look at the top of this page. There too are a number of links such as Tailor made and Manpower . The absence of symbols make them quite unnoted. You probably overlooked them. And you should, as they aim for a lower frequency of use. A reader of Nut's Weekly will switch to other Nuts more often than to tailor made.
Different skills
Reading text and recognising pictures are two completely different activities for the human brain (.../humind...).
  • The left hemisphere is good at reading text. That is a a bit of a cumbersome activity which has to be learned at school.
  • The right hemisphere is better at interpreting images. That is a piece of cake. Small kids learn it by themselves.
A mixture of text and pictures is unpleasant to read. It is a bad combination. The brain can't handle it very well.
Human curiosity to deviations
Mankind is born as a graphical explorer. A strange picture is much more attracting than a text. Our ancient ancestors already had well developed graphical skills. Pattern recognition was no problem for them. They excelled in finding fruits and well tasting animals. To recognise was to explore. Those two are not far apart. Even today pictures stimulate curiosity much stronger than text.
Summarising, symbols for external links:
  1. Misguide attention towards low frequent functions
  2. Exhaust the reader
  3. Are an invitation to leave the site.
Happy surfing and till next week!