Thursday, December 15, 2005


I fixed a few typos, changed some typefaces and swapped some links. This will be all for now. Have at it. -e

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


As this is an academic paper (of sorts) I reserve the right to add, delete, edit and revise where necessary. I will do my best to do that within the next 24 hours (at most), and then leave all posts as is, only adding or correcting by way of comments. I will also be adding sources/(re)sources to the list at right.

As this is a blog (more so than an academic paper, perhaps) I reserve the right to add new material as I see fit. I encourage anyone/everyone to contribute in any way they see fit: by way of comments, most obviously.

I would like to thank coturnix for pointing me in several extremely useful directions. I would also like to thank Jenn'O for plying her librarian skillz in locating one much needed quote. Many thanks!

Coda: Link Is You

In an essay titled "Axis Thinking", pioneer-of-all-trades and master-of-the-slow-fade, Brian Eno describes a means of categorization that depends on an object/sound/idea's position on several interrelated axes.
...if we look more closely we see that many of the things that we would consider single qualities of... are actually themselves multi-axial spaces. To describe hair color, for example, needs much more detail than dark <---> light. It needs an axis of redness, an axis of greyness, and axis of color homogeneity, an axis of shine.
As these axes multiply we move further and further away from a single point on a two-dimensional scale of categorization. As the axes multiply, so do the dimensions, until locating the position of any given thing becomes an act of creating a unique multi-dimesional singularity.

I believe that the implementation of links on a blog or a website is the act of locating oneself on a multiplicity of axes, thereby articulating the unique multi-dimensional singularity that is one's self.

Where It Stops Nobody Knows

One of the first things you notice in reading blogs is that the feeling of "completion" seems to get further and further away the more you read. Unlike reading a novel, time spent in the 'sphere will most likely not lead to a definite conclusion after a fixed number of pages. No easy satisfaction gained in return for "time in".

Unless, of course, we make an adjustment in the way we read. We have to re-align our intentions and our expectations. The link is all about making connections. A blogger may suggest connections, but the reader is the one responsible for actively making them. Reading is often touted as being "active" (whereas watching a movie is "passive"), but blog reading actually expects that the reader form his own exposition, conflict, climax, resolution, and denoument.

Chris Anderson of "The Long Tail" points us in the right direction:
Many of those extracting new value from old content are not the original creators or rights-holders. Some of them are repurposing older material, and others are aggregators who have found ways to find new markets for material that's fallen beneath the commercial radar. Either way, they typically aren't the original record label, film studio, publishing house, TV production company or any of the other names that might be on the copyright declaration. They are someone else, probably someone entirely unexpected. This is, after all, the dawn of Remix Culture.

What's changed is the presumption that the primary rights-holder is the best at extracting the commercial potential of creative material. Instead, anyone can do it: the advertising company that remixes an old movie to sell a car; the Linux t-shirt done Warhol-style, or just plain old DJ magic. What you need to encourage this multiplicity of commercialization potential is tiered alternatives to one-size-fits-all copyright, from allowing derivative works (good marketing!) to shorter terms for the sake of the remix-culture social good. I can't think of a better example of that than Lessig's own Creative Commons, which has already become the license of choice for the right side of the Tail, where the commercial imperative is less all-consuming.
This situation is not all that strange. We have always been personally responsible for creating significance, constructing meaning from our experiences "in the world". It has just been the custom for individuals to rely on a mediator in certain areas. It is commonly considered among Catholics, for instance, that while the lay people are expected to lead lives of faith and morality based on the teachings of the Church, the clergy are duty bound to carry the weight of the salvation of their congregation in much the same way that Christ accepts the sins of others.

In the 'sphere we also have ordained ministers carrying out good works on behalf of the faithful who are actively seeking their own salvation with the help of these shepherds of the flock. (And with that I heave a sigh of relief having seen that uncomfortable metaphor through to its silly end.)

Communities like BoingBoing and Metafilter are places where experts and specialists pool together the truly "interesting" and "valuable" bits of the Web so that you don't have to. Their charge is to make a truly insurmountable task surmountable - paving the way for our akward and intuitive task of making meaning from "what's out there".

David Weinberger gets us back on track:
When you put a document onto the Web, you break it into small pieces that are much more loosely structured than traditional hierarchical documents. Rather than the author controlling the sequence, the reader does. And rather [than] having its value based on its contents, a web page may have value because of what it points to outside of itself.

Imagine a time in the not-too-distant future when it's as easy to write web pages as it is to write office documents. And imagine it's as easy to save to your intranet site as it is to save to your hard drive. We all know these two things are going to come to pass, right? Once we're at that point, we'll quickly move from thinking that we're writing web pages to realizing that we're in fact building web *sites*. After all the difference between the two is, in one sense, very small: if you break a document up into several web pages and hyperlink them together you've in effect built a site.
And in a sense, we've come full circle, which is the most resolution we can possibly hope for in the 'sphere. But I'd like to connect Weinberger's ideas together in a slightly different way, if I could. If a web site is simply "several pages hyperlink[ed] together" and that it "may have value because of what it points to outside of itself", then a website includes both its "within" and its "without". In fact, the World Wide Web can be seen as, not an unintelligible mess of countless websites sharing contiguous - or not so contiguous - space, but as a single website, with the onus of making that mass into an intelligible body reposed on the user.


College: two hundred people reading the same book. An obvious mistake. Two hundred people can read two hundred books.

- John Cage *_M_* (p 61)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Link Is Power

Google bombing is an obvious example of using the recognized power of links to manipulate internet search information in order to further a personal agenda (albeit in a relatively juvenile and ineffective way). What we link to, and how we link to it has an effect on the mechanism of the Web. (Read more about Google bombing at Wiki'p, and note that those in-the-know prefer to call it link bombing. Represent!)

In this post on her blog apophenia (great feckin' name), zephoria attempts to deconstruct the gender biases in certain types of linking. She admits that what turns up are "patterns not findings", but makes some interesting points nonetheless. Consider the following [with my comments interspersed]:
  • There are a few things that we know in social networks. First, our social networks are frequently split by gender (from childhood on). Second, men tend to have large numbers of weak ties and women tend to have fewer, but stronger ties. This means that in traditional social networks, men tend to know far more people but not nearly as intimately as those women know. [A broad generalization. Interesting nonetheless. Men are predisposed to linking without discrimination.]
  • Content type is correlated with link structure (personal blogs contain few links, politics blogs contain lots of links). There's a gender split in content type. [And how do you think that gender split plays out, exactly?]
  • Blogrolls seem to be very common on politically-oriented blogs and always connect to blogs with similar political views (or to mainstream media). [Back to men and their penchant for promiscuous linking.]
  • When bloggers link to another blog, it is more likely to be same gender. [So, not only do men link more often - and to more people - but they tend to link to other men more often.]
  • It looks like there's a gender split in tool use; Mena [Who?] said that LJ is like 75% female, while Typepad and Moveable Type have far fewer women. [This is interesting on its own, but there are other implications. See below...]
  • Bloggers who use hosting services tend to link to only others on the same hosting service (from the blogrolls on Xanga and Rakuten to the friend links on LJ). The blogroll structure on these is often set up to only accept lists of blogs from that service.
  • Few LiveJournals have a blogroll but almost all have a list of friends one click away. This is not considered by search tools that look only at the front page. [So all of the women on LJ/Xanga etc. who are only linking to (presumably) other women on LJ/Xanga etc. are doing so without any quantifiable effect on cummulative link data.]
If who-links-to-what and how-often-they-link-to-it effects the results of search engines like Google, then - if the above statements are considered to be accurate - men will be favored in the top results. But what to do? Especially if this is largely the result of social trends - as opposed to malicious intent? Zephoria again:

I think it's critical to work on new metrics so that we can at least start showing alternate ways of organizing information if for no other reason than to push back against the conception of neutrality... At the least, i do think we need to really think about what is at stake and what we're inadvertently supporting through our current systems. Are these the power structures that we want to maintain? Because there's nothing neutral about our technological choices.

Marry Hodder at Napsterization proposes creating new systems for compiling and calculating the data.


Back To Basics: Link Is...

Links often act as footnotes, referring the reader to a definition or direct explanation of the thing being referred to. In this case, the word acting as the "carrier" for the link will directly correspond to the information to which it refers. [Christmas]

Sometimes the link, while retaining its common-sense relationship between signifier and signified, will assume a certain amount of basic knowledge on the subject, directing the reader to something that gives a more specific example of the word or topic it refers to. [Christmas]

Beyond these two most obvious scenarios the link will begin to reveal a world of nuance in tone and intention, blurring the line between objectivity and subjectivity. A link may be earnest, sarcastic, disgusted, resigned, snarky, annoyed, horrified. It depends on the bloggers ability to manipulate the arbitrariness of the lin[k]guistic sign.

More On: Making Connections

The other solution to ms. jared's dilemma is obvious: ditch those no-good philistines you call friends and LIVE ONLINE ALREADY! All the cool kids are doing it.
...since so many leading Weblogs are written by folks in the Internet biz, their entire lives are online. You can write up what you did with your real-life friend yesterday, but you can’t link to that experience. You can link to what your online friend blogged yesterday. The annotated-list-of-links Weblog form, then, becomes one and the same with the diaristic form for Webloggers in the Internet demimonde: Links are diaries because life is the Web.
The page that last link refers to is an in depth review/dissection of Rebecca Mead's (in)famous New Yorker article about blogging. As a service to those of you still living in the "real" world, we present the following excerpt - see how a couple of BlogStars make connections:
I already knew that Meg and Jason were involved, because I'd been reading their Web sites; although neither of them had written anything about the relationship, there were hints throughout their recent entries. Those hints had also been under discussion on a Web site called Metafilter. Metafilter is a "community weblog," which means that anyone who is a member can post a link to it. Most of the posts to Metafilter are links to news stories or weird Web sites, but in early June someone named Monkeyboy had linked to a photograph of Meg and Jason looking into Jason's bathroom mirror. The picture was posted on a Web site belonging to a friend of Meg's who collects photographs of the mirrors of Web celebrities. Monkeyboy also linked to Megnut's "crush" entry, and to an entry that Jason had written on about Meg's site design, and he posted them all on Metafilter with the words "So what's up with this? I think there's something going on here." This generated a lively discussion, with some bloggers furthering the gossip by linking to other blogs whose authors had confessed to having crushes on Jason, while others wrote in suggesting it was none of anyone's business.

A few days later, they stoked the gossip further by posting identical entries on their Web sites: word-for-word accounts of seeing a young girl on a bicycle in the street, and descriptions of the childhood memories that it triggered. Then a strange thing happened. One by one, several bloggers copied the little-girl entry into their blogs, as if they had seen the child on the bicycle, too. Other bloggers started to write parodies of the little-girl entry. Still other bloggers started to post messages to Metafilter, asking what the hell was going on with all these sightings of little girls. When I sent Meg an E-mail about this outbreak, she wrote back, "I was especially struck by the number of people who thought it was a big prank pulled by the `popular' kids to make fun of the uncool kids."
Your life online need not conform to the pesky expectations of every day reality. Make stuff up. Start a revolution. BUT BEWARE! One need only follow the links in the excerpt above to crash headlong into another undeniable truth of life online: 404 NOT FOUND!

The link is just as flawed and ephemeral as that bag of bones.

Getting In Over My Head

Is there more than a passing similarity between links and this?

As I understand it, Saussure's basic idea goes a little something like this...
  • Sign: the “whole” or the word itself, which contains/implies/is composed of…
  • Signified: the concept referred to
  • Signifier: the “sound-image” that refers to it
In the Land of the Link perhaps it goes a little something like this...
  • Sign: the page itself, after loading/publishing
  • Signified: the URL indicated by the link
  • Signifier: whatever has been chosen to "carry" the link (word, image, etc.)
To Saussure it follows that:
The bond between the signifier and the signified is arbitrary. Since I mean by sign the whole that results from the associating of the signifier with the signified, I can simply say: the linguistic sign is arbitrary.
Damn straight (as per linksville)! While common sense prevails, trends exist, and some even want to codify a system of linking, the "bond between the 'signifier' and the 'signified' is arbitrary". Manipulation of this idea is, I think, the Art of the Link.

Making Connections

In the middle of announcing weekend plans on her blog "Worshipping At The Altar Of Mediocrity" ms. jared reaveals something really interesting:'s weird having "real life" friends who don't have blogs to hyperlink their names too [sic]. hello - old school...
Help is on the way! While still under construction ThingLink promises to take a step towards bridging that gap between the actual and the virtual.
Thinglinks are unique identifiers that anybody can use for connecting physical or virtual objects to any online information about them. A thinglink on an object is an indication that there is some information about the object online—perhaps a blog post, some flickr photos, a manufacturer’s website, a wikipedia article, or just some quick comments on a discussion site.

Another Divergence

There's tagging, and then there's tagging.

The other sort - as found on and flickr - seems to me to be a new sort of link: one that points to more than one address. On flickr those addresses reside within a single domain. On they can be anywhere on the web.

Dr. Alex Primo and his research group in Brazil have been working on "collaborative multidirectional Web links" since 2003. Considering that the link is a tag of sorts (a word or words that bring up several possible associations, and therefore destinations) multidirectional links could be the future of tagging. Read the article. Here's an excerpt:
Co-link technology is very simple to use. After a link is clicked, a small menu opens at the side of that word with a list of directions (co-links) and an option to add a new co-link. Thus, clicking on a link does not discharge the automatic loading of a pre-specified page. Instead, a menu of one or more associated readings is presented to the interactant, multiplying the navigational possibilities. While traditional links are still configured as unidirectional vectors, they can now become multidirectional with co-links technology. In other words, many directions can be chosen from the same link.
Ok, great. But why not withhold access to determination and choice? There's something exciting about the blind quality of some links: you may have an idea of what will come up after linking, but you're not quite sure. What if multidirectional links were more like blogger's brilliant "next blog" button? Landing you at one of many possible destinations within fixed parameters? It may not sound so immediately useful, but maybe the internet is more about quasi-random exposure to vast quantities of available information.

And maybe links - and tagging - have more to do with the way the brain works than we are consciously aware. Rashmi Sinha gets cognitive on tagging:
First, there is less cultural consensus around items we categorize in the digital domain. Categorization is often based on cultural knowledge. For example, over the years we learn the cultural consensus regarding the boundary between wolf and dog, couch and chair, fruit and vegetable. With digital objects, there is less cultural knowledge about the categories - in fact, one purpose that tagging serves is transmitting cultural knowledge about our constantly evolving digital lives.
Simple enough. Now, I'm not one to get all hysterical about AI. The Matrix was a great movie, but more useful as a metaphor than a cautionary tale, imho. That being said, let's look back at Kevin Kelly's prognostication of the "World Wide Brain":
This planet-sized computer [the web] is comparable in complexity to a human brain. Both the brain and the web have hundreds of billions of neurons, or webpages. Each biological neuron sprouts synaptic links to thousands of other neurons, and each webpage branches into dozens of hyperlinks. That adds up to a trillion "synapses" between the static pages on the web. The human brain has about 100 times that number - but brains are not doubling in size every few years. The Machine is.

Think of the 100 billion times a day humans click on a webpage as a way of teaching the Machine what we think is important. Each time we forge a link between words, we teach it an idea. Wikipedia encourages its citizen authors to link each fact in an article to a reference citation. Over time, a Wikipedia article becomes totally underlined in blue as ideas are cross-referenced. That cross-referencing is how brains think and remember. It is how neural nets answer questions. It is how our global skin of neurons will adapt autonomously and acquire a higher level of knowledge.

The human brain has no department full of programming cells that configure the mind. Brain cells program themselves simply by being used. Likewise, our questions program the Machine to answer questions. We think we are merely wasting time when we surf mindlessly or blog an item, but each time we click a link we strengthen a node somewhere in the web OS, thereby programming the Machine by using it.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Mean Old Levee, Taught Me To Weep And Moan

Led Zeppelin's "When the Levee Breaks" is easily one of the most sampled songs to date. That opening drum break - rhythmically straighforward, but with the inimitable touch of Jimmy Page's alchemical production skillz - is just begging to be copied over and over again.

As the number of songs sampling that beat continues to grow, how long will it be before we're sampling the samples? Has it happened already? I can easily imagine someone putting together a track with the drum break from the Beastie Boys' "Rhymin and Stealin" instead of the Led Zep original (knowlingly or unknowingly).

Among true beat-heads, there seems to be an unspoken rule about this: take only from the original, vinyl preferably. There doesn't seem to be the same etiquette in the world of the link. Or rather, while most people make an effort to link to the "original", there seems to be a certain status achieved by being "the first" person to link to something. Think: Metafilter, DailyKos. (Make sure to check those comments for the best in jaded net-folk)

For one of the more notable coups in blogging recently, look no further than the horse's ass. Read the original article here, but don't miss the victory dance here.

Tag It

And while we're on the subject, there's another aspect of hip-hop culture that shares some similarity with the link: tagging. (No, not and flickr. First things first.)

I had this idea a while back and blogged it here. This afternoon I came close to meltdown trying to rewrite what I'd already (more or less) said. Before looking back at the old post (and deciding to abandon the rewrite) something great popped into my fevered brain: The link is the conduit by which the meme travels. I was more than a little suprised to see it sitting there - in the middle of the old post.

Here are a couple thoughts from the ill-fated rewrite:

The Wiki'p entry for graffiti compares tags to screen-names because they often "reflect some personal qualities" of the artist, also noting that the success of a tagger depends as much on prolificity as artistic skill.

It seems incorrect to talk about the prolificity (or ubiquity) of a link, but the idea makes more sense when referring to both links and memes. The link is the conduit by which the meme travels - not unlike whole car tagging, with the help of a link your meme can travel the five-boroughs and beyond.

Setting aside what the link itself might actually say - or how it appears, when the link is an image - the important element is where the link goes. While a tag might be the pseudonym for a gang, crew, or solo graffer in classic kilroy-was-here style, the link is packed with information.

Sampling And The Web

One of the things I (desperately) want to do here is to make a connection between hyperlinks and samples. Robert Chistgau, in this Village Voice article about the pitfalls of sampling way back in 1986, says the following about early remix pioneer Steve "Steinski" Stein:
I wouldn't claim Steinski is any kind of rad; disarming "postindustrial" capitalism is a sideline for him. He's just a perpetually disillusioned optimist who still assumes that the sounds and images rippling through the American consciousness are, forget copyright, every American's birthright--that we're all free to interpret and manipulate them as we choose.
Double Dee and Steinski's classic "Lesson 3: History of Hip-Hop" sounds like this.

Others have a similar feeling about interpretation and manipulation. John Oswald says this. His music sounds like this (click on any of those links, and wait). Negativland say this stuff. Their music sounds like this.

I have a feeling that remix culture has contributed to the tendency towards the free and unrestricted use of web material that hyperlinking suggests. The sample (when used artfully) is not just fodder for musical creativity, it is also a cultural refernce point - simultaneously exisiting in one work (time, place, social/cultural context) and making refernce to another (time, place, social/cultural context).


This site does not allow links "without the[ir] express written permission". Little wonder the site is for a law firm specializing in patents and trademarks. Let's not get into that whole "intellectual property" discussion.

The following little legal and intellectual twist (again, thanks to Wiki'p) suggests that we think about hyperlinks in a different way:
In some jurisdictions it is or was (for example the Netherlands, see Karin Spaink) held that hyperlinks are not merely references or citations, but are devices for copying web pages. Although this principle is generally rejected by digerati, the courts that adhere to it see the mere publication of a hyperlink that connects to illegal material to be an illegal act in itself, regardless of whether referencing illegal material is illegal.
Instead of "copying", let's say "publishing". Every time you click on one of those little blue nodes, aren't you in fact publishing a webpage? Without getting all if-a-tree-falls-in-the-forest, isn't it safe to say that loading a page on your web browser is siginifcantly closer to "publishing" than uploading the content to your server. Does the page "exist" before it is displayed on screen, or is this just the difference between a book - both open and shut? Keep in mind that any given page may look or act differently depending on your browser-of-choice.

And what about that second part? What is it about the "publication of a hyperlink" that makes linking to illegal material somehow more nefarious than making reference to that material?

The Problem Of Deep Linking

If everything out there is going to exist as separate parts of some vast collective intelligence, then everything out there should be readily accessible to me, you and everyone we know.

A "deep link" is a hyperlink that instead of taking you to a website's home page, directs you to more specific content elsewhere on the site.

There might not seem like much of a difference. What do you say Wiki'p?
The technology behind the World Wide Web, the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), does not actually make any distinction between "deep" links and any other links—all links are functionally equal. This is intentional; one of the designed purposes of the Web is to allow authors to link to any published document on another site. The possibility of so-called "deep" linking is therefore built into the Web technology of HTTP and URLs by default — while a site can attempt to restrict deep links, to do so requires extra effort.
Deep linking to a specific entry on Wikipedia is one thing, but (some people would say) linking directly to an mp3 file or a quicktime video hosted on another site should not be considered within the realm of fair play. As the above Wiki'p entry notes, restricting this sort of behavior "requires extra effort" on the part of the "provider". It should be no big suprise that the motivation for this extra effort most often springs from another motivation - the desire to collect revenue... er, cash money.

It seems like their is a fundamental tension between the design of the web and the desires of commerce.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

To Enter The Tunnel, Turn To Page 32

Links are like:


I have a feeling that the three sites most linked to - by way of footnotes and explanation - are Wikipedia, Amazon, and IMDb. Why is that the case?

Aside from being the standard sources in their various neighborhoods of information, these sites are exhaustive and dynamic. They are hubs, not dead ends.

Rather, Wikipedia is a hub. (Perhaps the hub at present.)

Amazon and IMDb are really just overlarge cul-de-sacs, aren't they?

You can get from Wikipedia to Amazon or (IMDb). *Can you go the other way around?

*All roads lead to Amazon. Evidence that desire and commerce are stronger than the search for knowledge and geek-status?


The hyperlink is inextricably tied (linked) to the world wide web. In many ways, it is the web.

This article, harbinger of the universal consciousness of the internet, has some interesting things to say about the brains behind the GreatBigBrain:
Computing pioneer Vannevar Bush outlined the web's core idea - hyperlinked pages - in 1945, but the first person to try to build on the concept was a freethinker named Ted Nelson, who in 1965 envisioned his own scheme, which he called "Xanadu". But he had little success connecting digital bits on a useful scale and his efforts were known only to an isolated group of disciples. Few of the hackers writing code for the emerging web in the 1990s knew about Nelson or his hyperlinked dream machine.

At the suggestion of a computer-savvy friend, I got in touch with Nelson in 1984, a decade before Netscape made Marc Andreessen a millionaire. We met in a dark dockside bar in Sausalito, California. Folded notes erupted from his pockets, and long strips of paper slipped from overstuffed notebooks. He told me about his scheme for organising all the knowledge of humanity. Salvation lay in cutting up 3 x 5 cards, of which he had plenty.

Legend has it that Ted Nelson invented Xanadu as a remedy for his poor memory and attention deficit disorder. He was certain that every document in the world should be a footnote to some other document, and computers could make the (hyper)links between them visible and permanent. He sketched out complicated notions of transferring authorship back to creators and tracking payments as readers hopped along networks of documents, what he called the docuverse. He spoke of "transclusion" and "intertwingularity" as he described the grand utopian benefits of his embedded structure.
The documents themselves are important only insofar as they are joined to other documents. Hyperlinks make connections and enable a free flow of ideas, bringing us to places we weren't intending to go.

An "offline" document is a destination. An online document is both a destination and a point of departure.

Take A Cue

" find a way of writing that, though coming from ideas, is not about them but produces them..." - John Cage

One Of Many Possible Jumping Off Points

"Hypermedia marks the beginning of the adoption and exploitation of the computer as a medium, rather than simply as a tool." - Bob Cotton and Richard Oliver Understanding Hypermedia: from multimedia to virtual reality.
An obvious but (perhaps) necessary statement: what distinguishes one thing from another thing is not the ways in which they are the same, but the ways in which they are different.

One medium is distinguished from another by what it does that others don't: the traits and characteristics that are specific to it alone.

From Cornelius Hortolf's Hypermedia Theory:
In the hypermedia format the longer units (sections, chapters, appendices) and shorter units (footnotes, digressions, figures) of a conventional piece of work are brought into a single format. Hypermedia documents consist of a bricolage of 'nodes': blocks of texts, sounds and images composed, and to be read, in no specific order. In contrast to conventional texts (and perhaps especially conventional Ph.D. theses), there is no linear sequence in which a hypermedia document's pages are meant to be read and understood. A hypermedia document minimises the traditional status differentiation between the often sequential elements of a book or article, for equal status as independent pages is accorded to all elements (such as a work's table of contents, preface, ordered chapters, digressions, conclusions and implications for the future, notes, bibliography, appendices, indices; etc.).
In the words of deep-thinker of the web, David Weinberger, what we're really dealing with here is "small pieces loosely joined". So let's forget for a moment (or two) about those small pieces, and let's forget about postmodern questions of sequence and readership/authorship. What's really important is the "joining". The links.

The blog is a nifty-neato (if not entirely revolutionary) form of self-expression and self-publishing. All concerns about the pecularities of blog-content/blog-tone and nonlinearity aside, the power of the blog is in its connectivity. It resides on the ol' world wide web, and as a result is undeniably linked. Intentionally or unintentionally. Knowingly or unknowingly. To other blogs. To websites. To search engines. To all of the other parcels of information and thought that reside on and offline. To the great and wonderful collective of great and wonderful things.