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The Hyperlinked Society

Questioning Connections in the Digital Age

Joseph Turow and Lokman Tsui, Editors

Publication Year: 2008

Links are among the most basic---and most unexamined---features of online life. Bringing together a prominent array of thinkers from industry and the academy, The Hyperlinked Society addresses a provocative series of questions about the ways in which hyperlinks organize behavior online. How do media producers' considerations of links change the way they approach their work, and how do these considerations in turn affect the ways that audiences consume news and entertainment? What role do economic and political considerations play in information producers' creation of links? How do links shape the size and scope of the public sphere in the digital age? Are hyperlinks "bridging" mechanisms that encourage people to see beyond their personal beliefs to a broader and more diverse world? Or do they simply reinforce existing bonds by encouraging people to ignore social and political perspectives that conflict with their existing interests and beliefs? This pathbreaking collection of essays will be valuable to anyone interested in the now taken for granted connections that structure communication, commerce, and civic discourse in the world of digital media. "This collection provides a broad and deep examination of the social, political, and economic implications of the evolving, web-based media environment. The Hyperlinked Society will be a very useful contribution to the scholarly debate about the role of the internet in modern society, and especially about the interaction between the internet and other media systems in modern society." ---Charles Steinfield, Professor and Chairperson, Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media, Michigan State University Joseph Turow is Robert Lewis Shayon Professor and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, and author of nine books, including Niche Envy: Marketing Discrimination in the Digital Age and Breaking up America: Advertisers and the New Media World. Lokman Tsui is a doctoral candidate at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania. His research interests center on new media and global communication. Cover image: This graph from Lada Adamic's chapter depicts the link structure of political blogs in the United States. The shapes reflect the blogs, and the colors of the shapes reflect political orientation---red for conservative blogs, blue for liberal ones. The size of each blog reflects the number of blogs that link to it. digitalculturebooks is an imprint of the University of Michigan Press and the Scholarly Publishing Office of the University of Michigan Library dedicated to publishing innovative and accessible work exploring new media and their impact on society, culture, and scholarly communication. Visit the website at www.digitalculture.org.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Series: The New Media World

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Introduction: On Not Taking the Hyperlink for Granted

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pp. 1-18

At the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, a computer user searching on the Web is unlikely to consider the enormous achievement represented by the highlighted links that beckon from the screen. In 1945, by contrast, Vannevar Bush was excited just to imagine the possibility of a hyperlink...

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PART 1. Hyperlinks and the Organization of Attention

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pp. 18-22

In a digital era where information is seemingly in abundance, the hyperlink organizes our attention by suggesting which ideas are worth being heard and which are not. Hyperlinks do not exist in a vacuum, however. They are created and situated in a political-social context. Despite their ubiquity, we...

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Structuring a Marketplace of Attention

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pp. 23-38

At the conference “The Hyperlinked Society” at the Annenberg School for Communication, Eric Picard of Microsoft asserted that with the exception of maintaining personal networks, people blogged for one of two reasons: fame or fortune. It seems to me that those motives propel most media makers...

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The Hyperlink as Organizing Principle

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pp. 39-55

What does a hyperlink mean? The question itself is problematical. We might be satisfied with the simpler and related question of what a hyperlink is and what a hyperlink does. But in trying to understand what the larger social effects of hyperlink networks are, it is not enough to be able to define a...

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Hyperlinking and the Forces of “Massification”

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pp. 56-69

The role of hyperlinking in the development of the Internet warrants investigation for a number of reasons. First, along with the Internet’s inherently global reach and its virtually unlimited content capacity, hyperlinking is one of the key factors that distinguishes the Internet from traditional media. Second, the dynamics of hyperlinking have evolved in a number of interesting...

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The Hyperlink in Newspapers and Blogs

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pp. 70-84

The hyperlink poses a dilemma for news organizations. On the one hand, links can be very useful in their ability to directly link to source material, such as public reports or official transcripts, in providing support for a news article. Considering that trust in what the people hear, see, and read has been steadily declining since the 1980s, the ability of the hyperlink to link a claim to its source...

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The Role of Expertise in Navigating Links of Influence

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pp. 85-103

In this essay, I focus on how the influence of links may be mediated by the skills and expertise that both content producers and viewers are able to mobilize when using the Internet. My main argument is that while lots of factors influence how links are presented on the Web and how users respond to the content...

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Google, Links, and Popularity versus Authority

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pp. 104-120

Suppose one wished to search through the data available on the Internet to find some information. Often, a user searches for Web pages associated with some particular keywords. However, the number of Web pages available is enormous. Whether millions or billions, the number of items that could potentially...

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PART 2. Hyperlinks and the Business of Media

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pp. 121-124

Part 2 focuses on the ways media and marketing organizations use linking as they face new challenges in the digital environment. Martin Nisenholtz, senior vice president of digital operations for the New York Times Company, provides...

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The Hyperlinked News Organization

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pp. 125-136

In The Making of the President, 1972, Theodore H. White observed: “It is assumed that any telephone call made between nine and noon anywhere in the executive belt between Boston and Washington is made between two parties both of whom have already read the New York Times and are speaking from the same shared body of information.”1 The news has always been...

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How Hyperlinks Ought to Change the Advertising Business

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pp. 137-144

The advertising industry is an interesting bird, owing largely to the fact that it was one of the first business sectors to experiment with the Internet and one of the last ones to realize why the Internet is important. As I write this, thousands of advertising industry executives still don’t understand why the Internet...

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Hyperlinks and Marketing Insight

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pp. 145-158

It seems that everywhere we turn these days, marketers and advertising professionals are talking about “putting the consumer at the center.” They speak of understanding the consumer’s needs and desires, crafting finely tuned segmentation studies, and using equal parts art and science to accurately pinpoint...

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Hyperlinking and Advertising Strategy

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pp. 159-164

Hyperlinking lets people control their own destiny—lets them drive their way through a media experience. It lets them choose their own path, focus on what interests them, and ultimately consume media at their own pace—on their own terms. This is...

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From Hyperlinks to Hyperties

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pp. 165-175

A new form of hyperlink is emerging, the “hypertie,” which bridges the gap between links created in computational media and those authored in the physical world when people interact with one another and the objects around them. The hypertie is an innovation in the interaction order, the result of the merger of existing social practices of association with the technical affordances of...

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PART 3. Hyperlinks, the Individual and the Social

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pp. 177-180

The essays in this section explore what it means to live in a hyperlinked society, a world where individuals and information are increasingly connected and linked to each other. In a philosophical essay, David Weinberger makes a strong...

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The Morality of Links

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pp. 181-190

Links are good. I believe that. And I’m not indifferent to the statement, the way I am to the vast majority of facts with which I agree, such as “There is a worm somewhere in our front lawn” and “Venus Williams plays tennis better than I do...

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Linked Geographies: Maps as Mediators of Reality

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pp. 191-205

Maps, just like hyperlinks, help us make sense of the world. As individuals, we use them to get between places, to determine our location, to find a store, and, with the advent of the Global Positioning System1 and ubiquitous computing, perhaps to track a loved one. As policy makers or business leaders...

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Will Peasants Map? Hyperlinks, Map Mashups, and the Future of Information

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pp. 206-226

In this essay, I examine the changing dynamics of how maps and information are interlinked. I argue that for most of its history, mapping has been the practice of powerful elites—the sovereign map.1 Nation-states, governments, the wealthy, and the powerful all dominated the production of maps, and knowledge of the world emanated from the elites for the benefit of the...

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The Social Hyperlink

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pp. 227-249

At first glance, the hyperlink—a simple sequence of characters serving as an address of a unique location on the World Wide Web—may not appear very social. Creating a hyperlink takes just one individual, as does bookmarking it, as does clicking on it. Yet very few people would create hyperlinks purely for...

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Are Hyperlinks “Weak Ties”?

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pp. 250-267

More than thirty years ago, Mark Granovetter introduced the idea of “weak ties,”1 defining them as interpersonal connections that are not particularly intense, close, or emotional. And yet weak ties serve an indispensable function: they hold together groups of people who do not otherwise have much in common...

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What Is the Online Public Sphere Good For?

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pp. 268-288

Almost from the moment the Internet became a mass medium, observers predicted that it would change the relationship between citizens and the political information they consume. According to numerous accounts, the Internet would function as a digital printing press, enabling any motivated citizen to publish...

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 289-303

About the Authors

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pp. 305-310


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pp. 311-319

E-ISBN-13: 9780472024537
E-ISBN-10: 0472024531
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472050437
Print-ISBN-10: 0472050435

Page Count: 328
Illustrations: 19 illustrations and drawings, 4 tables
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: The New Media World