In this generality the answer is obviously "yes", so what am I really asking? Well, imagine a node shows up in the new writeups box. You click and soon you are perusing the definition. Let's assume that you already know a little about the subject, you have some context. Then (always supposing the writeup is correct, and properly written) it's possible, and even likely, that you will learn things. All you have to do to follow links to the small number of terms you were not previously familiar with and Eureka!

But now assume that the node addresses issues about which you have very little prior knowledge. This time you have to follow almost all the links to get some context, and in the links you follow, you again have to follow almost all links. Pretty soon you have 100 browser windows open, and you have somehow found your way to people like that are the reason why monkeys throw their poop. Oh dear!

In the first case we see a hyperlinked database in its best possible light and in the second, it worst. If you have some knowledge then boosting it can be quite easy and what's more there is always the possibility of surprising and unexpected connections! But if you have very little knowledge then information overload quickly beckons.

So how do you learn about a subject when you are completely new to it? Traditionally, one learns in a linear way, by reading a book, or attending a lecture course. A teacher or an author steers you through, on a single path. On everything you have to choose your own path, and worse, because of the nonlinear nature of hyperlinks, you are soon following many different paths. How confusing!

So what is the answer to this? Perhaps people who have specialist knowledge in some area might think about creating nodes (or perhaps sequences of nodes) that give a "first course" in a particular subject. Notice that I am not talking about metanodes, not merely a list of nodes to look at, but a sensible order, some discussion around the nodes, and some extra examples to illustrate. Of course, this is a lot of work!

I would be very interested to see a discussion on this issue. So what do you think?