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The value of a link

photo by <a href="">smith</a>

photo by smith

Simon Owens of Bloggasm dropped me an e-mail today to let me know about a recent post he wrote about the “value” of a single link from the Huffington Post. He (rightly) uses it to point out some of the many absurdities of Richard Posner’s now-infamous blog post (the one about making it illegal to link to newspaper sites).

Now it’s not quite a slam-dunk. Huffpo is one of those rare breeds with readerships that are both massive and motivated to follow links (by the same token, I’d suspect that a link from DailyKos would have more value than, say, We digress.

The other thing that Owens post glosses over is that Posner’s supposition would apply less to this particular situation and more to one where the linking article contained most of the information of value from the originating one. The post Owens wrote which got linked is a nice piece of journalism. It’s logical that any Huffington Post reader interested in their brief capsule summary would link through for the full article. The same is the case when a link provides critical background, or even a contrasting opinion to an issue. But what about the times when the capsule is pretty much repurposing any information of value from the original post? Say professional sports trade information, or box office results, or a coroners report? What if the Huffington Post had written a longer article than the original one – using it as a starting point? Is it likely that the “value” of the link would have been the same? What’s difficult to quantify in this situation is that the “value” of any link is incredibly variable – not just who it is from, but in what context it is made. That seems like it may be rediculously self-evident – but it’s also why the blogosphere is such a difficult model for the “old guard” to come to grips with.

Regardless it’s a nice article by Simon – and a good reminder I should read his site more often.