"linking" entries

The power of connection

URLs are the Web's unique superpower.

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Over the past two decades, the heart of the Web has come to seem ordinary, forgettable. Some software has gone so far as to bury it and make it invisible, but it still worked its magic behind the scenes. As competing systems have made it disappear, though, absence has made many hearts grow fonder.

The humble URL is pretty ugly. The Web’s creator, Tim Berners-Lee, was embarrassed that people looked at them. It’s plain text, the computing interface that came right after punchcards and switches. The openings are always verbose, with a long “http://” (or similar) preceding the actual place you want to go. Excessively abstract debates about URIs aside, automated systems’ fondness for opaque identifiers has made many URLs hideous piles of characters that only a lookup table could enjoy. (Are QR codes even uglier?)

Even done badly, however, the URL is perhaps the most powerful innovation in networking history. While prior systems (IP addresses, DNS, and similar) had let us connect computers, URLs let us connect people’s creations. URLs let us share other people’s ideas, and promote our own ideas. The power to say “this bit of text will (mostly) reliably get you this content today” is a basic feature fundamental to the Web’s triumph.
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New York Times Settles Linking Suit

In what many of us thought was a slightly bizarre case, the New York Times Co. has settled with GateHouse Media in a suit attempting to cease the automated aggregation of Gatehouse content on Boston.com's affiliated properties (Boston.com is owned by the Times Co.). It is not clear why the settlement was reached, since precedence was on the side…

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Why Blogging and Social Media Shouldn't be Ignored

Consistent blogging and Web-based interaction often fall by the wayside when other projects demand attention, but venture capitalist Fred Wilson makes a compelling argument for keeping connectivity on the front burner. He charts the trajectory of a recent post focusing on Boxee, one of his investment companies: it went from a blog, to Techmeme, and then looped back into…

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Is Linking to Yourself the Future of the Web?

Last year, Bill Janeway really got my attention (pdf) when he noted that "over time, Wall Street 'firms began to trade against their clients for their own account, such that now, the direct investment activities of a firm like Goldman Sachs dwarf their activities on behalf of outside customers.'" As I wrote in my blog post at the time, Trading…

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Links: The Simple Solution for Context

News consumers searching for context can be served through the Web's simplest tool: hyperlinks.

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Publisher Offers Tips for Embedding Web Links in Ebooks

Morris Rosenthal uses links to guide ebook readers to illustrations, diagrams and other Web material. He shares his best practices in this Q&A.

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