Friday, September 30, 2005

Links and Power and Currency

This post is part of a set of three I will posting in the next few days discussing some articles I read out of the Library Trends issue for Spring 2005. The citation for this article is as follows:

Walker, Jill. "Links and Power: The Political Economy of Linking on the Web." Library Trends 53.4 (Spring 2005): 524-529.

The topic of linking is another topic that has plenty of steam in the blogosphere. A search on a tool like Technorati will likely yield a variety of results. These results may range from people looking at the economic implications of linking to just casual bloggers discussing how to use links to enhance their posts. The article argues that "links are seen as objective, democratic, and machine-readable signs of value" (525). While the article is not just for bloggers, it is of interest to them since links are seen as currency in the blogosphere.

The article discusses how Google uses not only keywords but also links to rank websites in search results. It explains that the presence of links on websites is seen by the search engines as endorsements of a particular site. The key idea is that "links between Web sites are assumed to provide an objective measure of value and to be a sign of peer endorsement" (526). This is the assumption the article seeks to examine, and it does so by looking at linking as an economy. Basically, the principle is the more links you get from other people, the higher your value in the currency scheme. If people link to you, your value goes up in terms of reputation and authority, and for those making money with a blog, it has economic potential as well. Overall, this little article provides a basic overview of how the linking economy works. For very experienced bloggers and webmasters, this is likely common knowledge, a given. For more casual readers and web surfers, it makes a basic reading with a clear explanation of how the process works as a currency not only to increase commerce but also to enhance the cultural capital and reputation of the one getting the links.

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