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The Power of Links

For research purpose: some considerations about the social meaning of the hyperlink, an interesting point that has the chance do inaugurate another sociologies theories.

Like Bruno Latour told before in Ressemble the social ( 2005) the therories of sociology can be rethinked through the way actors are linked on social networks in opposition of the place people occuped in society. This is what he called “sociology of association” that means no matter where you are in society or in your city, what matters is your connections and relationships.

It remember us that the study of networks is about a study of people behavior, nowadays, not only in specific place that people are in society, but the act of this people among then, and among a wall os diversity places that they can become in contact through the web.

To fullfil this kind of studies, the studies of associations of people, it’s heavly important to think about the links beyong their ways, among then, how they establish their own networks, with who they are talking. Like a cyber brasilian thinker says: “networks are made of people, and people who are talking with each other” Dimantas (2006).

I’m reading now a book that talk about links and their social function, The Hyperlinked Society, borrowed from a good friend, and I would like do share some information and questions exposed into it with others researchers that, at this moment, are interested in this theme or objetc:

” Links have morphed beyond their initial look to function as hot areas (where a picture or graphic are turned into a link), in-line links ( where thumbnail photos or other elements are connected from one site to another automatically), tags (that allow people to categorize links), API (application programming interface) mapping “mashups” (where people use data from open-source programs to make maps with links that suit their purposes), and RSS data feeds (that enabel users to connect to changing information from sites without going to then directly). And we also see the creation of links that are based not on idividual nomination but on the aggregation of opinions. A hyperlink on Google, for example, is the product of a complex computer-driven formula that calculates the popularity of a Web site by noting, among other things, how many sites link to it. The Google examples also, of course, points to yet another development: the ‘industrialization’ of the link.” (TSUI; TUROW, 2008, p. 3).

Links ar capable to exporse our social trails “they are the basic forces that relate creative works to on another (…) Any discussion of how to promote a healthy society offline as well as online must therefore pay close attention to links.[and] (…) what new research approaches are needed to track the variou considerations that drive the creation fo particular links and no others, map the various vectorf of knowledge and power that digital connections establish, and undestand how people interact with the connection possibilities tha call out to them in various media?” (4-5)

And about network authority, it brings some peculiar research like Seth Finkelstein’s work:

“Finkelstein’s topic is the arcane [secret and mysterious and therefore difficult to understand] of search engine algorithms. Using a number of provocative case studies as illustrations, he worries that Internet users misread Google rankings as indications of authority – and aothoritativeness – rather than as simply the indications of popularity that they really are. He notes that the comon search assumptions push minority views downward in the rankings, and he suggests that links paly a primarily coservative role: ‘Rather than subvert hierarchy, it’s much more likely thet hyperlinks (and associated popularity algorithms) relfect existing hierarchies’. Thus, he cautions that society must realize that ‘business that mine data for popularity’ such as the major search engines, “are not a model for civil socitey”. (9)

And about links and business: Tom Hespos asserts that:

” There are millions of convesations taking place right now on the Internet – on blogs, social networks, bulletin boards, and other Internet communities (…) and he points that firms sucha s Nielsen, Cymfony, and Techonorati have built ways for marketers to ‘listen to these conversations’ about their brands. In keeping with this, he exhorts marketers to find more and more ways to have potential custumers come to them through links, instead of continuing to try to push old as formats at them.” (11)

This are some discussions emerged form the book, I hope we could talk about then!

DIMANTAS, Hernani. (2003) Marketing hacker: a revolução dos mercados. Rio de Janeiro: Garamond.
______.(2006). Linkania: a sociedade da colaboração.
LATOUR, Bruno. (2005). Reassembling the social: an introduction to actor-network theory. New York: Oxford University Press.
TSUI, Lokman; TUROW, Joseph. (Ed.) (2008) The hyperlinked society: questioning connections in the digital age. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press.

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