Monty Python
MST3K Madness
Fantastic Literature

Some (not so) Very Deep Thoughts About Links

Jenn's been after me for some time to design a links page, an idea I've been reluctant to implement, as it goes against my basic philosophy on the subject. Now, you may think that web links are a pretty trivial thing to philosophize over, and you'd be largely correct about that. On the other hand, people who philosophize over larger issues tend to attract gunfire and lawsuits. I think you'll agree that I won't need to join Salman Rushdie in hiding over my views on links anytime soon.

Anyway, other people have their own link philosophies, too. There are webmasters who concentrate soley on content, providing few links, if any, that lead away from their pages. Some feel that linking to other sites is a cheap way to avoid creating meaningful content on their own pages. Others like to avoid looking for and updating broken links, which, I promise you, can be a lot of work on a large site. A few may harbor a sneaky narcissistic desire to avoid directing attention away from their own sites.

Others provide pages that are hardly anything else but links. The best are organized by theme, and provide commentary about the linked sites - most of the good ones are associated with *.edu domains. Others are simply unadorned lists of links that seem to go on forever. Weblogging, or "blogging", has also become popular. These pages are maintained by web surfers who provide a list of links for the sites they've visited that day, every day. They tend to be current events/pop culture oriented; the best include some commentary.

I come down somewhere in the middle. On the one hand, I've no desire to be a "web isolationist", restricting visitors to my own views and opinions. The inter-linkage of web sites is what the WWW is all about. You start out looking for the lyrics of a half-forgotten song, or the source of an obscure quote, and four hours later find yourself immersed in a site on The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, or looking at the blueprints for a spud gun! On the other hand, I've no particular wish to simply be a middle-man to the wonders of the web - I want to be one of the people who creates those wonders.

The upshot of all this is that Jenn and I provide lots of links, but not all on one page. Rather, our links are embedded within articles and features we provide on our various pages (totaling more than 12 megs, last time I checked). This allows surfers to find information and entertainment on our pages, while providing branch points into the remoter reaches of the web beyond our site.

Problem is, there are so many really cool sites out there we'd like to share with other surfers, but for which we have created no related features from which we can link. I suppose that if I were to be true to my convictions, I'd wait until we provided such features before including the links, or do without. I decided, in the end, that I'm not eccentric enough to be so unyielding over such a trivial point.

I am, however, just eccentric enough to write an article about it.

Tim Eagen
July, 2001