the hyperlinked society

I’m sitting here at the Hyperlinked Society conference in Philadelphia, blogging it alongside mindlace. I’ll probly post something from each of the six panels and conclusion that has something interesting in it. Apologies if writing is incoherent. :) Also, these next few posts are notes; reflections later.

This thing is getting audio- and video-recorded; I’ll post a link if (when?) they post it online.

First session, “Mainstream Linking.” Jay Rosen, moderator, has asked the panelists how links work in their world and what they mean.

Tony Gentile, VP of Healthline, a vertical search engine focused on health information. They participate in search engine marketing – they specifically go out to buy links from Google, Yahoo etc. So which links to buy, how to present them to the user, and what will the user see if they click on the ad link? Generally with linking there’s a feeling of reciprocity, he says, but one of the companies they had a contract with made back-linking a mandate. The link has transcended hypertext: they’ve developed an API that emulates a link structure. Also, they work to circulate people to the main areas of their site. In addition, esp. with health information, they have to be discerning as to whom they link to – and their whitelist (algorithmically and somewhat manually generated) contains about 170,000 companies.

Tom Hespos, President of Underscore Marketing, LLC, “a marketing guy” says the moderator. Hespos works with clients to get them “more linked in” – but he’s also a journalist and a blogger, and that gives him a perspective that other marketing people may not have. Points to the debut of Google as the turning point in link importance. Google brought relevance back to search; gave links an intrinsic value that they’d never had before. This might have done a bit of evil, in giving that value to links, despite Google’s motto (“do no evil”). Linking is a vote of confidence: page A linking to page B puts in a vote for page B. This is true in blogging world; businesses want links so that they can be found, vote-of-confidence has nothing to do with their attitude re: links, and that – Hespos says – should change, and quickly.

Eric Picard, Manager, Ad Product Planning, Microsoft. (Gasp! Not the Evil Empire!!1! Ohh, I’ll get over it.) Works on team called “MS Digital Advertising Solutions.” Focused on long-range planning and emergent media. He spends time trying to understand the economic model of hyperlinking – connecting people to information and people to businesses that might be relevant to that information. He started out as a multimedia designer and moved to things like VR, and then the web. He takes a broad view to the issues of hyperlinking. Thinks about the ways in which people “move through information.” Thinks about video game advertising, digital TV, areas into which people step for the first time in a commercial setting. Question is, how do we do this commercial setting (advertising) that is beneficial both to the consumer and to the advertiser – or at least doesn’t infuriate the consumer? MS, he says, should be thought of as an “ecosystem company” (?!); defends the “good job” MS is doing, supporting the “ecosystems” they work with (operating systems, for example, the MS search engine…)

Jay Rosen, “a student of multimedia,” reflects on above:

– Raymond Williams (sociologist) says in Culture and Society: “There are no masses; there are only ways of seing people as masses.” He meant that you can’t go into a northern England home and find a Mass Person. People are complicated. They don’t obey formulas. What does exist are ways of addressing people as masses. Today, all the past ways of seeing people as masses are coming apart, they no longer work so well. Now we have to specialize, and learn how to see people as a public, a community, knowledge producers in addition to being consumers. We’re good at connecting people UP – to companies, to central powers. Broadcasting is a good example of that. Today, a lot of the transformation and disruption in the media world is because the internet is good at connecting people laterally, not just vertically. The cost of like-minded people to find/meet each other has gone way, way down. If they’ve found each other, in many ways they don’t need the mass media. This radically changes the balance of power in the media world.

This became even more interesting when Rosen discovered blogs through a student who showed him Instapundit, just one link from which can instantly give an obscure blog ten thousand readers. Whoa. Rosen’s blog is PressThink, and it blew his mind that he could now write about media without having to run his writing through that same media. Holy freedom, Batman.

Q&A session I’ll leave for Ethan to describe in more detail.

One Response to “the hyperlinked society”

  1. » Blog Archive » Do No Evil, My Ass Says:

    […] may recall that in 2006 I posted something about a panel I participated in at the Hyperlinked Society Conference at Annenberg.  That was the one where I asked people to […]