The Link is dead. Long live The Link.

Do you remember The World Wide Web? It was all about Links.

Mobile cares more about Apps than about Links. Thousands of tiny AOL walled garden-lets living in some kind of mutual deterrence on your phone.

But even on The Web, The Link isn’t what it used to be.

Just Google It

At Long Beach State I have 127 students visit 5 School of Art, Art Galleries every Thursday. Everybody picks one of the shows to write about. And they use a WordPress Tag on their posts, so that the artist can find what everybody wrote.

This week I told one of the artists that there was a tag she could click to see what everyone had written. I started to fumble to pull it up on my phone and she said,

Don’t worry about it. I can just Google myself and your students will come up.

Of course the artist was right. And that’s fantastic! But one of the most important factors in Google or any other search engine’s rankings is Links! And now we don’t need to bother making links because Google already has them all!?

Like the artist, my students don’t think about links much either. We live in a world built by links, but it’s old technology now. We don’t know how to repair the old machines. They just seem to work.


I was thinking about links because I was thinking about Aaron Swartz. I recently started using a fork of the WordPress footer. I’ve taken WordPress’ familiar

Code is Poetry.

And created a fork:

Code is Poetry. Websites are Paintings.

I’ve written elsewhere about my new footer fork. What I’d like to say now is that as long as you’re making a footer, it can also be a link.

As long as I have a short piece of text that can also be a link, it might as well be a link to one of Aaron Swartz blog posts in his Raw Nerve series.

When I think about everything Swartz did in his short life it seems fitting. When I think about all the Aaron Swartz tools I use every day: Markdown, Creative Commons, RSS, it can feel like he was thinking just of me when he worked on all these wonderful tools. Even if he was actually empowering millions.

For such a generous & dedicated person who died so young, a link seems like a pretty small homage. But I don’t think there is a better one.

And so powerful.

I am a link. Hear me roar.

4 people walking with their arms linked

Image: Linked by Nathan Rupert.