Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Where did all the links go

Reading Rebecca Blood's "Hammer, Nail: How Blogging Software Reshaped The Online Community", I can't help but long for the times when a blog post almost always contained a link of some kind. Perhaps I failed to play enough Nintendo as a child and my attention span has thus remained at a level now uncommon, but I rarely ever want to only read a sentence or two on a topic of interest to me. Even three hundred words, the length of originality indicated by Blood, seems to short to truly communicate anything of substance.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for headlines and teasers (movie trailers often proving better then the movie). I like to know what I'm getting into before I start to read. Frankly, I don't have time to read everything and a good title\summary makes separating the wheat from the chaff all the easier. That's why the link was there, if your interested, go read more. Now sadly without the link, my attention caught by a witty title and that smashing first line displayed in the Google results I'm left with some bloggers 300 word, not even enough for a thought, more a thoughtlet.

However, bloggers and readers alike seem unperturbed by this, the loss of the link. My theory why, no one is really interested in what they read on blogs anyway. In fact I don't think most bloggers are much interested in what they write. Both groups, equally uninterested, just killing time.

The consumption and production of many a blog has become something akin to the consumption of romance novels. I work in a public library and regular witness the romance novel selection process. People choose romance novels because the cover is shiny and new, because the title is interesting or even because they've taken the time to read the first sentence on the back cover. At times I've witnessed patrons just take all the books that were ajar or misaligned. This, in my limited experience, is not dissimilar from the manner by which most people choose the blogs or blog posts they read. Why, because without the link, blog consumption is little different from reading a romance novel, just killing time.

Perhaps I'm wrong, maybe a lot can be said in only a few words, and genuine interest expressed without the desire to know more.


fiacre said...

I would interpret the loss of links in blogs as a maturing of the form. As has been pointed out elsewhere, many blogs seem to be high tech versions of the pamphleteering of previous centuries. Yet, I think as people have become more familiar with the medium they are beginning to write longer, more insightful pieces that repay the time spent reading them. There are a few blogs I read daily, and they range from link heavy political blogs to essay length entries on a variety of subjects.

Perhaps people’s blog reading habits reflect their book reading habits: some weighty reading, a few popular novels, and a little romance when no one is watching.

mark said...

Linking is, I agree, a "good" thing, to a certain moderated extent; however, the overuse of the link is at least as bad as underlinking, if not, as I tend to think, worse. With links, people stop articulating thoughts and interrupt their syntactic flow... As a primary example of overlinking, Wikipedia entries often possess links to topically irrelevant and unrelated words and ideas; for example, in the Wikipedia "Blog" entry we read this week, the word "cleavage" is linked to its Wikipedia entry. 'Tis a little ridiculous...