Saturday, June 12, 2010

About webbing: hyperlinking in blogs etcetera

At work this afternoon I overheard Haze chatting with a patron about the library course, and when it seemed they were chatting about web2.0 technologies I looked up. 

It was Di-Dee!  Naturally I had to pin her, to personally introduce some of my favourite web2.0 technologies.

But at this early stage in explorations, the most immediate item I hope Di-Dee took away was how to enhance her posts with hyperlinks.  If possible, I will insert a quick little video on creating hyperlinks in Blogger, for the students and colleagues newly lured into web2.0



Over a week later, after CaptureFox shut down Firefox dozens of times, and after I couldn't access any video I created with CamStudio, I've finally tried Jing to get the above, please tell me if it doesn't work for you.

Before I could make the video, I was distracted by pondering the thought that once one knows HOW to, there is still the questions of why: whether, when, where.

Immediately I began pondering that question I remembered a book I enjoyed recently. Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It's Becoming, and Why It Matters - it took me ages to rediscover the title of that book as it was not in my reading history at CHRLC or UB, because I had borrowed it through BONUS from UTS or Massey (interesting aside, I will be wanting to look up Dewey again because these libraries chose slightly different numbers: 303.4833 .v. 302.231). Say Everything... was immensely readable. Maybe because the interesting societal perspective was balanced with personal, intimate stories of some of the people who are the history of blogging.

Just because hyperlinks = the web and blogging began as regular sharing of hyperlinks, doesn't mean that every blogging purpose is served by hyperlinks. There are plenty of writers about the value of hyperlinks to blogs whose goal is moneymaking and that's why I'm not linking to them. Others like Julie Schopick express their value to expertise sharing, and reputation building. One might see few to no hyperlinks in news blogs (as long as they are truly first with the news) or maybe opinion blogs (although we still expect to see links to online sources that trigger the development of opinion, and the quality of the opinion might be enhanced by quality hyperlinks) or even fiction writers' blogs.

One purpose that probably applies to most blogs is Conversation - and that *is* served by hyperlinks - at least ... oops, I have absorbed that as a fact, without this moment being able to explain just how... can someone help me out with that?  Good, yes thanks Julien Frisch:
"If their only function would be to be the glue between those who are writing, a system of reference and reverence, they would already fulfil an important function, one that I consider to be one of the main elements of blogging.

But in fact, the use of hyperlinks is not only a way to create connections to others. Hyperlinking allows completely new forms of writing about ... [fill in your sphere here]...

If hyperlinks become an active part of the language we speak when we write online, we can help to build bridges between those who are already inside the debate and those who want to join. ...

Links are used both as reverence mechanism between peers but also as cognitive bridges for those who would not understand the full extend of an article without this relational guidance by the author, without forcing the latter to (re)write what has already been written before." (Frisch, 2009, ¶8)
Do read Julien's whole article, his example is excellent and the comments interesting.

Darn it, this is turning into another long post I shouldn't be spending time on with all the shopping, booking and packing I still need to do... but having found such interesting articles I do want to share them....

Julien's inspiration: Venkatesh Rao's The Rhetoric of The Hyperlink is another must-read and I recommend it also to my writer friends. I will only quote one of his interesting comments, which happens to sum up the point of hyperlinking shared by for-money, for-giving-expertise, for-conversation and for-the-writing blogs: becoming reliable:
"Real hyperlink artists know that paradoxically, the more people are tempted to click away from your content, the more they want to keep coming back.  There is a set of tradeoffs involving compactness, temptation to click, foreshadowing to eliminate surprise (and retain the reader), and altruism in passing on the reader. But the medium is friendlier to generosity in yielding the stage." (Rao, 2009, ¶8) 
Actually that conversation probably gives me a partial answer to my question: when?  

I had sought to find ready-made advice on when and when not to hyperlink...unsuccessfully.

However I did find: Penny Coutas with the same question amongst others in her mind when puzzling over a style for hyperlinking in her online academic writing.  In fact, fellow CULLB602C students may find it useful to consider Penny's thoughts when preparing their own assignments online.

http://www.exploringthehyper.net/blog/2010/06/wikipedia-as-style-guide/

I am glad Penny mentioned her discovery that online academic journals do not optimise the use of hyperlinks but rather use print-based referencing styles.  I have found the same. Penny also has an answer (no) for morgan who once asked if I knew whether APA allow a different rule for online publications.

Personally I recommend when writing for academic purpose online, do both.  As Felix Salmon (2010) concluded in his opinion piece Why links belong in text "Someone writing online should no more put their links at the end of their essay than a university professor should first give the lecture and then run through the slides." When the medium is online, optimise for online reading.  If the purpose is academic and if there is either academic requirement or the possibility of print publication, then use print referencing style too. (If you're writing in html spaces rather than pdf or other web-accessible docs you might seek clarification on whether you need hanging indented paragraphs in the reference list.).

Felix wrote Why links belong in text in response to Nicholas Carr's complaints about how distracting hyperlinks can be. Felix dismisses nick's point about the big distraction - being drawn away from the original article: "In these days of tabbed browsing, there’s a difference between clicking and clicking away: most of us, I’m sure, control-click many times per day while reading something interesting, letting tabs accumulate in the background as we find interesting citations we want to read later." (Salmon, 2010, ¶6) That's certainly how I avoid losing my place.

However I would sometimes (particularly when there are 'too many' links) relate to nick's second point: "Other times, they're tiny distractions, little textual gnats buzzing around your head. Even if you don't click on a link, your eyes notice it, and your frontal cortex has to fire up a bunch of neurons to decide whether to click or not. You may not notice the little extra cognitive load placed on your brain, but it's there and it matters." (Carr, 2010, 2010, ¶3). I also relate completely to Felix's response that in certain situations (particularly when author's cite someone else) " I expect a link and there’s much more cognitive load placed on my brain — there’s much more buzzing in my frontal cortex — if there isn’t a link there than if there is." (Salmon, 2010, ¶1)

Pursuing the notion of "too many hyperlinks" for advice from a different perspective. I found that Torley (yes of Second Life video tutorial fame) advises to hyperlink sparingly, and shares his approach (2008, ¶7) "I'll hyperlink to shed light on inspirations + influences behind a post. I'll hyperlink to provide contact info, and "further details" too onerous, too rich to cram onto a single page."


To other bloggers: how do you decide what to hyperlink?

For me, the hyperlinks I create are for a reader like me, they offer links I think I'd find potentially useful:
  • explaining an idea better than I have
  • providing a reference or credit for material I quote (or further reading)
  • backtracing my stimuli
To avoid an excess of hyperlinks:
  • If you're using Zemanta don't link every word in your post for which Wikipedia has an article.
  • Remember that readers can select words or phrases we need clarified and right click for a google search. (for that fact I appreciate the reminder from Jack, one of Venkat's readers).

That last point is also advice to readers... for whom I have more:

To online readers who may be stressed by "too many" hyperlinks - adapt the rules for crossing a road safely: Before you click: Stop Look Listen Think.

Stop: Don't click, just hover and;
Look: read the URL "where it goes" displayed in browser footer
Listen: listen to the article you're already reading
Think: do you really need or want to explore that link?
Then if you still want to check it out, use Right-Click, Open in New Tab

I will also be looking into the Readability plugin that apparently helps readers by removing all the extraneous stuff around the article we want to read.  It has recently been updated with an optional feature so that (if I understand it correctly) hyperlinks are made less visible (can still be seen on hover) but listed completely as footnotes.


And just for the practice...

References

Carr, N. (2010, May 31). Experiments in delinkification [Web log post]. Rough Type. Retrieved from http://www.roughtype.com/archives/2010/05/experiments_in.php

Coutas, P. (2010, June 7). Wikipedia as style guide? [Web log post]. Exploring the Hype(r) of Languages Learning and Teaching. Retrieved from http://www.exploringthehyper.net/blog/2010/06/wikipedia-as-style-guide/

Frisch, J. (2009, July 7). Creating a European public sphere: the hyperlink story [Web log post]. Julien Frisch. Retrieved from http://julienfrisch.blogspot.com/2009/07/creating-european-public-sphere.html

Rao, V. (2009, July 1). The rhetoric of the hyperlink [Web log post]. ribbonfarm.com Retrieved from http://www.ribbonfarm.com/2009/07/01/the-rhetoric-of-the-hyperlink/

Salmon, F. (2010, June 2). Why links belong in text [Web log post]. Reuters. Retrieved from http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2010/06/02/why-links-belong-in-text/

Torley. (2008, April 21). Hyperlink sparingly [Web log post]. Musical dream journal. Retrieved from http://torley.com/hyperlink-sparingly

2 comments:

  1. I have been reading everything 303.4833 since Who Owns The Future? a few months ago. Thanks to this, I'll try 302.231.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The above Anonymous comment was initially made with an email address exposed by the commenter. swan... I removed and replaced it following the guidance of Peter @ Enviroman

    ReplyDelete

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