Following Hyperlinks

March 12, 2014 § 1 Comment

Always catching myself being really distracted when reading an online article, I decided to follow those hyperlinks that mostly interrupt my deep engagement with the reading. Picking a random Wired article that popped up in my Facebook news feed, I started reading. And there, in the middle of the second paragraph, the first hyperlink waited to be followed. I soon realised that this could be a never ending task, so I had to put up some rules and restrictions of elimination to get through the article at some point.
Some of those rules were:

// just links appearing in the text are valid, no menus, footers, and so on;
// if there is a whole list of just links, only 2 need to be clicked;
// download links can be ignored;
// links forwarding to a later point of the same text aren’t valid;// don’t go further than level 5 (a hyperlink of the hyperlink of the hyperlink of the hyperlink of the hyperlink);
// after 149 links I decided to limit the levels down to 3;
// at some point there were too many links to Wikipedia articles which mostly contain a vast amount of links themselves, so I decided to just give it an extra remark even if I’m not at level 3 yet;
…..

This repeated action of saving links turned out to be quite tiring, even without following the content with my full attention. It is an endless task, and the usual frustration of reading an article on the internet – which never feels finished because I couldn’t follow every hyperlink – gets overshadowed by the incomprehensible interconnectedness of everything on the web. How the hell did I get from Natoshi Sakamotos relation to Bitcoin over model trains to Russia?
Currently I’m a little bit more than halfway through the article, with 230 links (level 5 on the first 149, and level 3 on the rest). I’m curious what the end count will be, but am not sure if I can afford to print all of that out as I initially planned. In the meantime you can watch a little video of me, sometime in the middle of a level 5 follow up, fighting my way through:

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§ One Response to Following Hyperlinks

  • wohnunge says:

    Very great post. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and wished to say that I’ve
    really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts.
    In any case I will be subscribing in your feed and I hope you write
    again very soon!

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