Hyperlinks: Under Appreciated?

When I first saw the Week 5 references to hyperlinks, I first thought, “What’s the big deal?” Using hyperlinks is such a natural part of using the web that I really didn’t think about them much.  I have been more aware of creating them myself since I started doing my posts for my COETAIL blog but as far as their power, I really hadn’t thought too much about it. At least I thought I hadn’t. I did some searching and realized two powerful things the simple hyperlink does for us. It provides a journey of discovery and allows us to easily and instantly give credit (attribution) to others’ work and ideas.

I took a look at the Curator’s Code site and a quote about discovery really stuck out to me.

“One of the most magical things about the internet is that it’s a whimsical rabbit hole of discovery – we start somewhere familiar and click our way to a wonderland of curiosity and fascination we never knew existed. What makes this contagion of semi-serendipity possible is an intricate ecosystem of “link love” – a via-chain of attribution that allows us to discover new sources through those we already know and trust.”

I had never read such a poetic description of the power of the internet via the hyperlink but know I’ve experienced this time and time again, both professionally and personally. My curiosity has led me around the internet starting with one thing and them finding myself in a totally different topic. The internet is an overwhelming space of information but following well placed hyperlinks can lead you to amazing discoveries. After reading this quote and recognizing that I’ve been on many of these hyperlink journeys, I had a “well-duh” moment realizing I wrote a reflection called “Wandering” in Course 1 (which, of course, I’ve linked to) about my own journey of discovery regarding my thoughts on 21st century skills (it’s not the technology, it’s the critical thinking skills). We should be grateful for hyperlinks and, of course, to those who create them as they can help provide an amazing path of discovery. This leads into the second power of the hyperlink: attribution.

The hyperlink is the easiest and quickest way to give credit to our sources of information and inspiration. It benefits both the writer and the reader. On her blog, Lucacept-Intercepting the Web, Jenny Luca states, “Understanding the power of hyperlinked writing has changed my thoughts about reading. I welcome a hyperlink as I read. Knowing that I can easily move to the source of an author’s inspiration is something I find helpful, and not a distraction.” When the writer creates hyperlinks to their sources they create more credibility for their work. I’m noticing that I’m becoming more suspicious and critical of sites that do not provide many hyperlinks. As I write my reflections for my blog, I’m finding that I’m doing more for my reader when I provide the hyperlinks and I’m also giving ‘props’ to others by linking to them. In a way I’m saying, “Please check this out!” So when we provide hyperlinks to sources of information and interest, it’s like giving our readers more doors to open on their own journey of discovery. Jenny Luca also brings up the questions (as do others in linked blogs which I list below) about how hyperlinking isn’t getting more attention in the classroom. Why aren’t we teaching students to use hyperlinks in their writing? I recently showed my middle school students how to embed a hyperlink in an image they want to use in a presentation. I feel like this is the first step in showing them the power of the hyperlink. They now have the source of their image connected to it and don’t have to worry about bookmarking it or writing it down. For next school year, I have been inspired to introduce my students to hyperlinks early on and how they can use them to enhance their learning and writing.

So, I now have more respect and admiration for the under-rated and under-appreciated hyperlink. I look forward to the next journey of discovery that it takes me on.

Hyperlink Journey about Hyperlinks…
Jenny Luca:
 Hyperlinking text – a skill that needs some lovin’
which led to…
Silvia Tolisano: Wondering About Hyperlinked Writing
which led to…
Silvia TolisanoTeaching Hyperlinked Writing and Reading
Wes Fryer: The Ethic of the Link, Hyperlinked Writing and Mainstream Media Link Hangups
Bud Hunt: Ruminations on Implications: Notes from the Thesis
Bud Hunt: Thinking ’bout Linking
Which all have additional links to continue the journey….

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