I am always amazed and saddened when I see traditional media trying to cover anything to do with the web. Why cover a story about something happening on the web, and not provide any links? Why not write yourself into the fabric of the web? Why always look at the other kids having fun in the park from the other side of your fence? This is 2008. Heck, it's almost 2009! If you're going to talk about the web and you want to have any credibility at all, you need to use links.
When the SEC charged Internet billionaire Mark Cuban with insider trading on Nov. 17, the brash mogul's followers knew where to look for the best commentary. Not newspapers, not cable TV but his uncensored personal soapbox, blogmaverick.com.
This example works on so many levels I don't know where to begin. "Dave, calm down. There's a URL right there. What's the big deal?" I'll grant you that this example at least has the bare minimum to get you there (or did you miss the address as you skimmed this, which is what everyone does on the web as they look for links). What if you wanted to go read Mark's blog? What if you wanted to do what you do on the web and, you know, get side-tracked and read some of Mark's blog before going any further? The value of having something like this on the web instead of in a magazine is that his blog is one level of indirection away in the same plane. That's right, you're already on the web. You don't need to do anything other than sprinkle a bit of markup around that text and you're done.
"Dave, that's not how you read Forbes. You're supposed to be reading this from start to finish." Well, that's not quite true. There are a lot of links on this page. They don't seem to mind you clicking around. Let's look more closely at these "links":
- 123 total links
- 121 of which are links within the same domain, or to other web properties owned by Forbes.com
- 2 of which are links to business.com. I'm not even going to bother looking who owns this...
This is the classic walled garden you find all over the web: big media that seems to be participating in what's going on, but somehow doesn't get it, or doesn't even care that they don't get it. It's not unlike when the CBC calls voice mail an "Audio Blog" and expects me to take them seriously.
The web isn't meant to be hard; it's pages with links to pages. If you can't get that right do what you know and stick with print.