Monday, December 12, 2005

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.


Blogger ericdbernasek said...

Where do footnotes go in an "academic" blog? In the comments, duh.

I just wanted to mention that the link to The Onion is actually a deep link, bypassing the oh-so-irritating flash ad non-paying readers must view before entering the site.

11:46 AM  

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