Why Do We Link??

A student asked me this question earlier today during our work on our class wiki. Actually, it was a variation of this question: “Why do we HAVE TO link?”.  Students were doing a short summary/analysis post about two articles they read from Kidshealth.org and I was showing them how to link back to the original article.  The student wasn’t quite getting it and I didn’t give the best answer I could have, but the question stuck with me all day…so, why do we link?

  • We link to provide context. What has shaped our thinking on a topic? Where did our opinions come from or what were they refuting?
  • We link to show we have prior knowledge.  Just like a researcher whose writing builds off many previous efforts, our links provide a reference for the statements we make.
  • Linking makes reading and writing active instead of passive. This is the major downfall of books. If I don’t understand a book, I can’t click on the words to find meaning in them. However, on the web, if I click on someone’s links I can find meaning in their statements.  As a writer, I can no longer just write and write (like I’ve been doing so far), to actively engage my readers I in the process of reading and learning.
  • We link to make connections.  The implications of linking are that there is some type of connection to be made between what you are saying and what someone else is saying. More and more I am recognizing the power of these connections.
  • We link to provide opportunities for those who are determined to learn to do so.  Bill Genereux discussed The True Digital Divide in a post this morning. In his opinion the divide is not an economic one creating technological haves and have nots.  No, to him the divide comes between those who actively seek out new knowledge and those who are content to settle with what they already know. Some are okay with failure as part of the process of becoming master learners. Others are scared that failure means and ending to their success.  We link to provide those constant learners a chance to learn from us.

Those are some of the reasons I link…so why do you link??


One Response

  1. The invention of hypertext has transformed the way humans communicate. Books and printed media are linear, meaning they are meant to be read from beginning to end. The world wide web with its electronic pages and hypertext links is not meant to be read from beginning to end but rather from page to page by following the links that happen to attract your interest.

    From a practical standpoint, learning to link is learning to communicate in a modern way, much the same as learning to type, or learning to send text messages. Search engines such as Google use linking as a way of determining how important a particular page is and where it should appear in the search results.

    Sometimes, links by themselves can be a form of communication. The link from this post to my own blog post The True Digital Divide, created a pingback alerting me to the discussion happening on this blog, which in turn led me to making this comment for your benefit.

    Randy Nelson of Pixar, creator of Wall-e, Cars, and Finding Nemo says it best, “The core skill of innovators is error recovery, not error avoidance.”

    If you want to have a great life and career, you have to be an innovator and creator otherwise someone else will always be telling you what to do.

    Here’s another question for you that several students have had fun answering and you might enjoy thinking about as well. “The quality of my life depends upon the quality of my _____________ ?”

    Think about it, and I would love to hear what you have to say sometime. A lively discussion on this question is found over on my blog.

    Have a great weekend!

    Bill Gx

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