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« Overconfident | Main | Fire »

May 31, 2010


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I haven't read the book (may now because this issue interests me) but I would think there would be "different strokes for different folks" when it comes to the distractive nature of links in articles.

I can see where a child may go straight for the links to see where they lead, but I have discovered so much more about things that interest me by "link chasing" as I call it.

Whether it is literature or philosophy or the two hours I spent reading about geological formations in the Gulf of Mexico and the history of the Deepwater Horizon last night, I have learned a great deal due to links in text.

In philosophy, for example, it can be a distraction. When I first began reading about Kant online I found it extremely difficult because everything linked to Hume and then Hume linked to Locke and then Locke linked to every idea in the Enlightenment and so I learned less about Kant than anything else.

I takes discipline and I can see where young students may have trouble focusing.

Ed Cone

I recommend the book. The research discussed on brain plasticity is pretty fascinating stuff. Adults seems vulnerable to link-chasing, too, among other online distractions.

(I also liked The Big Switch.)


Idle thoughts, with no links:

-- It will be interesting to see how learning rates on electronic readers like the Kindle compare with web content and with traditional printed content. I.e., is learning affected only by the inclusion of links, or does the act of reading on a display impact learning?

-- I try to open interesting links in a tab, so I can continue to read with a minimum of distraction. On the other hand, I often define a word or a phrase and Google it via right click. Chrome opens the results in a new tab, which is good. Safari does not, which is not so good. I have no idea what IE does.

-- In a sense, links are analagous to footnotes that point you to the back of the book. In both cases, it is distracting to chase things down. Writers should avoid making the intelligibility of their narrative dependent on the content of either a link or a footnote.


Along this line, see also the following in wired:

Author Nicholas Carr: The Web Shatters Focus, Rewires Brains

Jim Caserta

One reason links are important:
How The Mainstream Media Stole Our News Story Without Credit


Great example, Jim.

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