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The Persistence of Linkery

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Written by Basil on 10/22/2003 7:12 PM. Filed under:

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In a wonderful display of information permanence, Jakob Nielsen describes why linkrot is bad. On Juliana’s blog, Sockmonk opines that the opposite is true, citing as proof the ability to delete posts provided in blog*spot’s user interface. If you can do it, it must be O.K.

It seems to me that writers who publish their work take up a mantle of responsibility. They enter into an unwritten contract with their readers, the terms of which vary depending upon the media used for publication. In a hypertextual medium, part of the unstated agreement is, “This material will continue to be here; you may link to it.” The implication is that it has been published. Were it not understood that it would continue to be there, it would be useless to link to the information, and it would do a disservice to one’s own readers should the information someday vanish.

The blogging phenomenon skews this model a bit by making it extremely easy for anyone to publish their work in seconds. This ease of publication makes the work apparently more ephemeral for the writers involved. However, the fact that conversation is a cornerstone of blogging argues exactly the opposite, bringing us back to Nielsen’s classic advice: Linkrot is bad.

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4 Responses to “The Persistence of Linkery”

  1. name Says:

    Two words: Google Cache.

  2. basil Says:

    Actually, name, the google cache would be a good place to turn to steal the information and republish it on my website. I’m not sure that would be such a great idea. Unfortunately, the google cache will reflect the current state at the time of the googlebots next spidering.

    A better idea might be the Wayback Machine. I’m looking into that now.

  3. basil Says:

    Or, maybe, blog*spot will still let the old links work, even if they are not apparently visible on the “front page,” as it were. Wow.

    I guess I just blew a lot of hot air for naught. What a windbag!

  4. Tim Says:

    No way! It keeps the old posts around. Fascinating.