From a good article Why Christian Science Monitor stories have too many links, wrong ones by Justin Martin writing at Poynter:

A visible link in a news story is a caesura, a stoppage that forces a cognitive pause. The word “caesura” is a poetry term and, just as in poetic writing, literary pauses must be used with both caution and cause.

“Hyperlinks,” wrote Nicholas Carr in “The Shallows,” “alter our experience of media … Links don’t just point us to related or supplemental works; they propel us toward them. They encourage us to dip in and out of a series of texts rather than devote sustained attention to any one of them.” He goes on to say that links’ “value as navigational tools is inextricable from the distraction they cause.”

(Guilty, your honour. I promise to try to do better.) Worth a read, and I always like meeting a new word.

We’ve discussed my view of the value of linking to sources — to demonstrate the veracity of [contentious?] statements or claims — and I stand by that, but do I also recognize Martin’s (and Carr’s) point about causing a sometimes unintended ‘cognitive pause’. 

It’s a balance, I think. Certainly I try to link to/attribute for other sound reasons. (I’m persuaded by Cactus Kate’s occasional grizzle about the NZ Herald’s willingness to quote her but not link to her blog that they’re being dorks by doing that.) 

In general, I think relevance has to be the guiding principle. Which is, I think, the point.

How do you see it?

– P

 Image: (click)