Hyperlinked Society: Navigating Nodes of Influence

This session looked a bit at how people interact with various hyperlinks: especially ethical and social issues.

Ezter Hargittai shows some great video of people searching for information and getting caught up in sponsored links that they did not realize were sponsored links. What sort of users don’t understand the nature of sponsored links?

Lee Rainie talked a bit about how it is possible to know how people search and how they differ in their search approaches. Users are skeptical–especially about commercial interests that are present on the web. But, as Ezter noted, people can be fooled by sponsored links. That said, most people think they can find stuff. Just as we know from a long history of communication research, people also check their research against their personal network.

Peter Morville talks about his path from Library School to Information Architect. Search is iterative and complicated. By watching how users made use of information spaces–and especially the power of single words as guideposts in seeking information. He has now moved into user experience, and, as in the title of his book, “ambient findability.” That is, being able to find anything, and any person, with ease.

David Weinberger talks about the linked architecture of the web, and the ethics built into the architecture. The web about telling people to go somewhere else. The web is about the small act of generosity. The The New York Times links mostly to itself, which is not generous, it’s narcissistic. The web is built of little pieces of selflessness.

Seth Finkelstein says that Google measures popularity, not authority. The popularity is also self-reinforcing, since people talk about the top rankings on the web. Censorship is the process of, crudely or not,g attemptin to de-popularize information that the state or empowered want to have devalued.

There is some discussion over the issue of ranking of links and popularity of links. Seth suggests that the most popular link wins in Google, it’s not good for nuance. Clusty gets at a bit more nuance.

An audience member prompted a discussion over new standards, and whether you can train folks to use a different way of making links clearer. A little bit of a debate ensued over the balance between increasing the complexity of a link or staying with existing genres.

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