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Make Me Think About My Links and Linking: Round Deux

An Encomium for Links

I have had a change of opinion after speaking with my brother, who is a programmer. He has enlightened me on the benefits of linking and how the internet would be if linking wasn’t possible. My brother told me that without linking every single site on the internet would have to host ll of the information available. This would take massive amount of time to compile, put up, and manage. Not to mention how much “space” would be wasted in doing so.

I like to think of links as high-tech footnotes. In books they work as reference information that can either be found at the bottom of a page or in the back of a book, and those footnotes give the reader more context and more information about what they’ve just read. Links work in much the same way.

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While reading on a website, you may stumble across a term or a referenced work that you are not familiar with. A link imbedded in the text can allow the reader to access that information immediately. This is n invaluable attribute of the link, it save endless amounts of time, and in the end, works much more efficiently than the footnotes of a book. Because linking allows you to access massive amounts of information a once, and can even link you straight to the source material, whereas a footnotes can only give you so much information.

Links allow several different people to use one another’s work as a lunching pad, while still giving one another credit. For instance, I was working as an editorial assistant on a massive project to create and encyclopedia, and linking allowed everyone involved to access each other’s work, which made work more efficient and made sure that no one was doing something twice. This would have been much more complicated if linking was not available. It saved everyone so much time and effort. But also, you can start a project, or a piece of work based on the work of someone else, and link back to their work in order for people to know where you go your ideas from. Again, this works quite a lot like footnotes, and footnotes are wonderful.

I’m not a programmer, so most of the time when my brother talks, I have no idea what he is saying. But he very carefully explained to me the usefulness of links. Without links he wouldn’t be able to put together a database that is accessible to other users. He would not be able to create programs to do the small, repeatative tasks for him and bring it all back to one workspace. He probably could’ve talked to me for several more hours on the usefulness of links. The point being, linking allows the job of the programmer to be much easier and allows for better ease of access to multitudes of data for users.

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A good example of the database use would be something like MLA International Bibliography. First, the Bemidji State University Library links students to the MLA International Bibliography server, making it easier for students to access the information. For here they just enter in their search parameters and the results will link to an abstract or more basic information about the article. There may also be links to the article in its entirety, or a link to the school’s library holding of the article. Without linking, this information would not be as easily available.

Links are endlessly useful. They have greatly contributed, if not mostly responsible for the leaps and bounds we have made in recent years when it comes to the availability of information. Without links, students would still be doing all their research in the library, which would limit their research to what is available to the library. Links allow researchers from around the world to collaborate with one another, as well as allow others to use that work to create their own.

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And because links make information so easily available to the majority of the world, it allows for cultural understanding to grow quicker. A person from northern Minnesota can read an article from a person from China, and therefore get a more global perspective. This allows people to open their minds and learn more about the cultures from around the world, and how differently people from around the world can view one issue. It not only makes your own research that much more in depth and rich, because of the global perspective, but it may also change your views on something based on the experience someone in another part of the world has had, and you may not have ever read about it without the usefulness of links.

In short, links are nothing short of miracle workers. They allow information to flow freely across and around the globe. They make it so much simpler to create online “libraries” to house this information. And because of this it allows for researchers to have greater perspective on issues and a richer, deeper understanding of those issues they are studying. Links allow people to work together with greater ease and to use other’s works as inspiration. Links are incredible things, and our world would not be the same without them.

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