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Tim Bray on links

Sunday, January 21, 2007, 10:57 — 0 comments Edit

Tim Bray on links:

Solution: Link Bundles? – If we really care about links being useful in the long term (and we should), maybe we need to abandon the notion that a single pointer is the right way to make one that matters. If I want to link to Accenture or Bob Dylan or Chartres Cathedral, I can think of three plausible ways: via the "official" sites, the Wikipedia entries, and Google searches for the names. [More generally, I should say: direct links, online reference-resource links, and search-based links. I'll come back to that.]

I wonder why someone would want a Google link? Every browser I’ve used recently has some sort of “highlight term and search” function, and with that function I can pick my search engine myself, plus it’s more future proof than a static document. I don’t think this adds any value for the user, and it’s also semantically awkward - imagine search-linking to “miserable failure”; what is the meaning of that? Not to talk about links being fragile …

But the multi-link idea is indeed needed and implemented on many webpages, though typically as a special page about a e.g. certain company with links to all related information - web page, stock ticker, recent announcements, articles. The question is not if people need multi-links but rather if they need a special technical solution for that. What would be the benefit of XLink over this way of simply implementing it on top of HTML?


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