I. Warming up

1. Do you often read news online? Is it better than getting information from the press?

2. Should online articles provide links to source material? Is this principle advisable for newspapers as well?

3. Do you find links distracting? If you see a link in the process of reading the article, do you normally click it?

4. What do you know about links as a website promotion tool? How does link exchange work? Is it effective?

5. Think of other ways of using links for your business activities. Can links be useful for writers, journalists etc. as well?

II. Reading

Text 1

Read the text and consider the questions below.

Fear of links

By S. Rosenberg

While professional journalists turn up their noses, weblog pioneers invent a new, personal way to organize the Web’s chaos.

From the day in 1994 that I first fooled around with the Mosaic browser, I thought it was obvious that, on the Web, links are good. They’re a service, a boon, a new kind of communication that distinguishes this strange new medium from its antecedents. I’d always assumed that, as journalists moved onto the Web, they’d welcome their new ability to use links – to document their sources, explain obscure facts and terms, point people to deeper reading on a subject or just offer wittily ironic asides.

So I was taken aback recently to hear a Wall Street Journal reporter, one who covers the Internet industry, refer to a new breed of Web journalists as “linkalists.” It was not a compliment.

The occasion was a panel discussion at a new media conference at the UC-Berkeley Journalism School earlier this year, and the message was clear: People who provide links to other people are performing a low, menial task that any boob can handle, and that doesn’t deserve comparison to the hallowed labors that constitute the august tradition of “journalism.”

Well, I beg to differ. And, more importantly, the behavior of millions of Web users suggests that they place an extremely high value on the reliable, timely provision of useful – or quirky, or overlooked – links. A journalist who today disdains the very notion of providing links to readers may tomorrow find himself without a job.

On the Web, with its unspannable abundance of chaotic and ill-organized information, pointing people to good links is a fundamental service – a combination of giving directions to strangers and sharing one’s discoveries with friends. All of which explains why a phenomenon known as the weblog is one of the fastest-growing and most fertile creative areas on the Web today.

Weblogs, typically, are personal Web sites operated by individuals who compile chronological lists of links to stuff that interests them, interspersed with information, editorializing and personal asides. A good weblog is updated often, in a kind of real-time improvisation, with pointers to interesting events, pages, stories and happenings elsewhere on the Web. New stuff piles on top of the page; older stuff sinks to the bottom. (At Salon, we’ve been using the “log” label a little differently, to denote short, newsy items that are posted frequently on our sites.)

Since weblogs are usually one-person operations with no editorial hierarchy or institution to say “no” or impose a house style, they tend to embody the strengths and weaknesses of any labor-of-love operation: They’re often impassioned and sometimes sloppy; they frequently surprise and just as frequently lose focus.

More fleshed out than a simple link list but less introspective than an online diary, a good weblog is also a window onto the mind and daily life of its creator. By providing an up-to-the-minute and also fully archived record of what they’ve found in their browsing and what they think about it, weblog creators provide their readers with evolving snapshots of the Web, refracted through a single editorial mind. <…> There are all sorts of hybrids of the weblog format. For one thing, a weblog makes a great e-mail newsletter, and some weblog operators bundle their links into daily mailings. <…>

Commercial Web outfits – particularly those that are primarily in the “content” business, like the Mercury – tend to be wary and suspicious of providing too many links beyond their own pages. They ask, “Why should we send our readers away?” That’s a short-sighted and ultimately self-defeating way of thinking, though: A weblog that’s mostly a table of contents for a single Web site is going to lack the variety of one that casts a wider net, and in the end it will fail to build the regular and growing following that the for-profit owner seeks.

Weblogs aren’t exactly a new phenomenon <…>. But over the past year weblogs have become a lot more common – in part because the software to maintain them has become a little more easy for writers to set up. That process is likely to accelerate <…>.

Of course, a weblog is useless unless there’s somewhere for its links to point. The emergence of weblogs doesn’t eclipse the importance of timely news and entertainment on the Web – if anything, it enhances the value of such original content. Mostly, it’s a sign that we’re only beginning to discover the best tools and strategies for helping Web users cope with the vast media terrain we all now inhabit. The webloggers have found a new and fertile niche in the Web’s information ecology. They’re fulfilling the predictions by Internet visionaries of the rise of a new breed of personal journalism online – only instead of pounding the physical pavement, they forage for news on the Net itself.

This is the sort of thing that gets some journalists riled up. “Reporting isn’t just finding links!” they cry. “It’s interviewing people. Checking sources. Digging for the truth.”

To which the only sane answer is: of course. No one’s suggesting that weblogs are any sort of replacement for the old-fashioned virtues of good journalism. But the defensive hostility of some journalists does make you think a bit about how much today’s “professional” media are already behaving like the link-happy new medium they fear. After all, magazines and TV stations pick up most of their stories from newspapers. Newspapers troll the Web for gossip and leads. The press became a giant echo chamber long ago; the Net just boosted the volume and cranked up the speed. The big difference between online and offline news is that the offline press will “pick up” a story without bothering to credit it – let alone link you to the original source.

So the next time you hear reporters sniffing about “linkalists,” ask them just what their beef is with links, anyway – most likely, the problem is in their heads. As Dave Winer put it when I called him up to talk about weblogs, “Any time a conventional journalist looks down their nose at me, I know I’m doing the right thing.”


1. In what ways are links good for a journalist?

2. How do you understand the notion of a linkalist?

3. What shade of meaning has the notion of conventional journalist taken on?

4. Can weblogs replace old-fashioned journalism?

Text 2

Read the text and consider the questions below.

“Delinkification” is bunk: Linking is good for you

The “links rot our brains” contingent is wrong. Hypertext enhances our understanding and holds writers accountable

By S. Rosenberg

Nick Carr, hypertext and delinkification

For 15 years, I’ve been doing most of my writing – aside from my two books – on the Web. When I do switch back to writing an article for print, I find myself feeling stymied. I can’t link!

Links have become an essential part of how I write, and also part of how I read. Given a choice between reading something on paper and reading it online, I much prefer reading online: I can follow up on an article’s links to explore source material, gain a deeper understanding of a complex point, or just look up some term of art with which I’m unfamiliar.

There is, I think, nothing unusual about this today. So I was flummoxed earlier this year when Nicholas Carr started a campaign against the humble link, and found at least partial support from some other estimable writers <…>. Carr’s “delinkification” critique is part of a larger argument contained in his book “The Shallows.” <…>

The nub of Carr’s argument is that every link in a text imposes “a little cognitive load” that makes reading less efficient. Each link forces us to ask, “Should I click?” As a result, Carr wrote in the “delinkification” post, “People who read hypertext comprehend and learn less, studies show, than those who read the same material in printed form.”

This appearance of the word “hypertext” is a tipoff to one of the big problems with Carr’s argument: it mixes up two quite different visions of linking.

“Hypertext” is the term invented by Ted Nelson in 1965 to describe text that, unlike traditional linear writing, spreads out in a network of nodes and links. <…> This original conception of hypertext fathered two lines of descent. One adopted hypertext as a practical tool for organizing and cross-associating information; the other embraced it as an experimental art form, which might transform the essentially linear nature of our reading into a branching game, puzzle or poem, in which the reader collaborates with the author. The pragmatists use links to try to enhance comprehension or add context, to say “here’s where I got this” or “here’s where you can learn more”; the hypertext artists deploy them as part of a larger experiment in expanding (or blowing up) the structure of traditional narrative.

These are fundamentally different endeavors. The pragmatic linkers have thrived in the Web era; the literary linkers have so far largely failed to reach anyone outside the academy. The Web has given us a hypertext world in which links providing useful pointers outnumber links with artistic intent a million to one. If we are going to study the impact of hypertext on our brains and our culture, surely we should look at the reality of the Web, not the dream of the hypertext artists and theorists.

The other big problem with Carr’s case against links lies in that ever-suspect phrase, “studies show.” Any time you hear those words your brain-alarm should sound: What studies? By whom? What do they show? What were they actually studying? How’d they design the study? Who paid for it?

To my surprise, as far as I can tell, not one of the many other writers who weighed in on delinkification earlier this year took the time to do so. I did, and here’s what I found.

You recall Carr’s statement that “people who read hypertext comprehend and learn less, studies show, than those who read the same material in printed form.” Yet the studies he cites show nothing of the sort. Carr’s critique of links employs a bait-and-switch dodge: He sets out to persuade us that Web links – practical, informational links – are brain-sucking attention scourges robbing us of the clarity of print. But he does so by citing a bunch of studies that actually examined the other kind of link, the “hypertext will change how we read” kind. Also, the studies almost completely exclude print.

If you’re still with me, come a little deeper into these linky weeds. In “The Shallows,” here is how Carr describes the study that is the linchpin of his argument:

In a 2001 study, two Canadian scholars asked seventy people to read “The Demon Lover,” a short story by the modernist writer Elizabeth Bowen. One group read the story in a traditional linear-text format; a second group read a version with links, as you’d find on a Web page. The hypertext readers took longer to read the story, yet in subsequent interviews they also reported more confusion and uncertainty about what they had read. Three-quarters of them said that they had difficulty following the text, while only one in ten of the linear-text readers reported such problems. One hypertext reader complained, “The story was very jumpy…”

Sounds reasonable. Then you look at the study, and realize how misleadingly Carr has summarized it – and how little it actually proves.

The researchers Carr cites divided a group of readers into two groups. Both were provided with the text of Bowen’s story split into paragraph-sized chunks on a computer screen. (There’s no paper, no print, anywhere.) For the first group, each chunk concluded with a single link reading “next” that took them to the next paragraph. For the other group, the researchers took each of Bowen’s paragraphs and embedded three different links in each section – which seemed to branch in some meaningful way but actually all led the reader on to the same next paragraph. (The researchers didn’t provide readers with a “back” button, so they had no opportunity to explore the hypertext space – or discover that their links all pointed to the same destination.) <…>

Bowen’s story was written as reasonably traditional linear fiction, so the idea of rewriting it as literary hypertext is dubious to begin with. But that’s not what the researchers did. They didn’t turn the story into a genuine literary hypertext fiction, a maze of story chunks that demands you assemble your own meaning. Nor did they transform it into something resembling a piece of contemporary Web writing, with an occasional link thrown in to provide context or offer depth.

No, what the researchers did was to muck up a perfectly good story with meaningless links. Of course the readers of this version had a rougher time than the control group, who got to read a much more sensibly organized version. All this study proved was something we already knew: that badly executed hypertext can indeed ruin the process of reading. So, of course, can badly executed narrative structure, or grammar, or punctuation.

In both “The Shallows” and his blog post, Carr also makes reference to a meta-analysis (or “study of studies”) on hypertext reading studies, a paper that examined 40 other studies and concluded that “the increased demands of decision-making and visual processing in hypertext impaired reading performance.” But a closer look at this paper reveals another apples-and-oranges problem.

Carr is saying that Web links slow down our brains. But none of the studies the meta-analysis compiles looked at Web-style links. They all drew comparisons between linear hypertexts (screens with “next” links, not printed articles) on one side, and on the other, literary-style hypertexts broken up into multiple nodes where “participants had many choices in sequencing their reading.”

Every other study that I’ve looked into in this area shares these same problems; I’ll spare you the detail. These studies may help explain why there’s never been a literary-hypertext bestseller, but they don’t do much to illuminate reading on the Web. Carr talks about links having “propulsive force,” but does anyone really experience them that way today? Maybe in the early days of the Web, when they were newfangled, people felt compelled to click – like primitives suddenly encountering TV and jabbing their fingers at the channel selector, wondering what will magically appear next.

I think we all passed through that phase quickly. If your experience matches mine, then today, your eyes pass over a link. Most often you ignore it. Sometimes, you hover your mouse pointer to see where it goes. Every now and then, you click the link open in a new tab to read when you’re done. And very rarely, you might actually stop what you’re reading and read the linked text. If you do, it’s usually a sign that you’ve lost interest in the original article anyway. Which can happen just as easily in a magazine or newspaper – where, instead of clicking a link, we just turn the page.

Yes, a paragraph larded up with too many links can be distracting. Links, like words, need to be used judiciously. <…> Overuse of links is usually a sign that the writer does not know how to link, which on the Web means he does not know how to write. But such abuse hardly discredits linking itself. Many writers still don’t understand that comma-splicing is bad grammar, but does that get us talking about the “de-comma-fication” of our prose?

<…> The Web’s links don’t make it a vast wasteland or a murky shallows; they organize and enrich it. <…> As the Web has grown vast, that desire has grown with it. To swear off links is to abandon curiosity. To be tired of links is to be tired of life.

Money changes everything

The Web is deep in many directions, yet it is also, undeniably, full of distractions. These distractions do not lie at the root of the Web’s nature. They’re out on its branches, where we find desperate businesses perched, struggling to eke out one more click of your mouse, one more view of their page.

Yesterday I distinguished the “informational linking” most of us use on today’s Web from the “artistic linking” of literary hypertext avant-gardists. The latter, it turns out, is what researchers were examining when they produced the studies that Nick Carr dragooned into service in his campaign to prove that the Web is dulling our brains.

Today I want to talk about another kind of linking: call it “corporate linking”. (Individuals and little-guy companies do it, too, but not on the same scale.) These are links placed on pages because they provide some tangible business value to the linker: they cookie a user for an affiliate program, or boost a target page’s Google rank, or aim to increase a site’s “stickiness” by getting the reader to click through to another page.

I think Nick Carr is wrong in arguing that linked text is in itself harder to read than unlinked text. But when he maintains that reading on the Web is too often an assault of blinking distractions, well, that’s hard to deny. The evidence is all around us. The question is, why? How did the Web, a tool to forge connections and deepen understanding, become, in the eyes of so many intelligent people, an attention-mangling machine?

Practices like splitting articles into multiple pages or delivering lists via pageview-mongering slideshows have been with us since the early Web. I figured they’d die out quickly, but they’ve shown great resilience – despite being crude, annoying, ineffective, hostile to users, and harmful to the long-term interests of their practitioners. There seems to be an inexhaustible supply of media executives who misunderstand how the Web works and think that they can somehow beat it into submission. Their tactics have produced an onslaught of distractions that are neither native to the Web’s technology nor inevitable byproducts of its design. The blinking, buzzing parade is, rather, a side-effect of business failure, a desperation move on the part of flailing commercial publishers.

<…> If you’re on a web page that’s weighted down with cross-promotional hand-waving, revenue-squeezing ad overload and interstitial interruptions, odds are you’re on a newspaper or magazine site. For an egregiously awful example of how business linking can ruin the experience of reading on the Web, take a look at the current version of Time.com.

For some people perhaps Time really is <…> “the nirvana that people are looking for.” I find it more like purgatory. Some time ago, the website of the venerable news weekly began peppering its articles with red-colored links inserted into the crevices between paragraphs.

<…> So you’re reading this little piece about local news startups online, you finish a paragraph, and some person or program at Time waves in front of your eyes and yells, “Go read our review of netbook computers!” What, in the name of Tim Berners-Lee, is that all about? Is it “related reading”? An advertisement? Who exactly is it at Time that has so little respect for the work of its own staff, or the attention of its readers?

<…> This kind of irrelevance is the norm for Time’s little red paragraph busters. Sometimes they’re worse than irrelevant: For instance, you could be reading an account of how Colombia drug gangs are terrorizing a small town in Colombia (and, incidentially, intimidating victims using Facebook messages) and then get offered a chance to “See pictures from inside Facebook headquarters.”

Other news organizations do this kind of SEO-driven linking a bit more elegantly. Over at the New York Times, for instance, there are tons of links to the Times’ topic pages. Although these are occasionally useful, they’re there primarily to serve the Times’ business interests: they boost these topic pages’ prominence in Google. But they have a perverse side-effect. When I read Times stories I tend to ignore the links because I’ve learned that most of them will be generic – machine-generated rather than hand-crafted. In other words, the Times has made me link-blind – which is too bad in those cases where its writers (Frank Rich comes to mind) make a point of linking well and often.

In most newsrooms, business and editorial realms are ostensibly separated by an ethical wall. But Web links often exist in a no man’s land instead. Sometimes links are imposed by the business side; sometimes they are inserted by editorial staff; sometimes they’re fought over. In my days at Salon we tried to establish a clear line: Navigation, ads and peripheral space might be up for grabs, but links within stories were – like the words and images – under the control of writers and editors. Plenty of publications today still adhere to this rough policy. But it’s a hard one to enforce unless your editors and writers are composing their links as they prepare their articles.

I think that practice remains the exception. Consider this sad fact: 15 years into the era of Web publishing, most print publications still don’t link at all from inside the text of their articles posted online. They began shoveling their print stories, sans links, into the content-management system way back when; today, they’re shoveling still.

How did we get here? Partly it’s because too many editors and reporters waited too long to learn Web basics, and many of the more enthusiastic early adopters fled the newsroom and took their expertise with them. Partly the problem is generational, and thus gradually being solved.

But a big part of it is Google’s responsibility. Google is a great tool because it draws meaning from links. And it is a profitable company because it has placed a tiny but real financial value on many links. But by making links a business, Google also made it harder for editors and writers to defend responsible linking. Links became the province of the publisher, not the editor. Even so, Google – and the Web itself – works best when links are made freely, motivated by passion or professional dedication or fun. When the links are made for a fractional cent or buck, we get spam and malware and wastelands of zombie splogs.

<…> Of course, it’s possible for links to make meaning and money at the same time; one doesn’t have to exclude the other. But when driven by the prospect of profit, bad links can begin to swamp good ones. Every link that’s motivated by some affiliate kickback, screen-scraped by a spam blog, or nail-gunned into the body of a news story perverts the original value of linking – and dilutes the Web itself.

Can we resist this? Can we change it? Corporate linking says, “Go home! Sit back, get cynical. This medium is as corrupt as every other one you’ve experienced. What else did you expect?”

But we do expect more from the Web, and we can still get it. Careful, creative linking – dare I say conscious linking? – can build trust and authority in ways the corporate linkers can’t even imagine.

In links we trust

Nick Carr, like the rest of the “Web rots our brains” contingent, views links as primarily subtractive and destructive. Links direct us away from where we are to somewhere else on the Web. They impede our concentration, degrade our comprehension, and erode our attention spans.

It’s important, first, to understand that every single one of these criticisms of links has been raised against every single new media form for the past 2500 years. <…> Throughout history, the info-panic critique has been one size fits all. The media being criticized may change, but the indictments are remarkably similar. That tells us we’re in the presence of some ancestral predilection or prejudice. We involuntarily defend the media forms we grew up with as bastions of civilization, and denounce newcomers as barbaric threats to our children and our way of life.

That’s a lot to hang on the humble link, which – in today’s Flash-addled, widget-laden, real-time-streaming environment – seems more like an anchor of stability than a force for subversion. But even if we grant Carr his premise that links slow reading and hamper understanding (which I don’t believe his evidence proves at all), I’ll still take the linked version of an article over the unlinked.

I do so because I see links as primarily additive and creative. Even if it took me a little longer to read the text-with-links, even if I had to work a bit harder to get through it, I’d come out the other side with more meat and more juice.

Links, you see, do so much more than just whisk us from one Web page to another. They are not just textual tunnel-hops or narrative chutes-and-ladders. Links, properly used, don’t just pile one “And now this!” upon another. They tell us, “This relates to this, which relates to that.”

Links announce our presence. They show a writer’s work. They are badges of honesty, inviting readers to check that work. They demonstrate fairness. They can be simple gestures of communication; they can be complex signifiers of meaning. They make connections between things. They add coherence. They build context.

If I can get all that in return, why would I begrudge the link-wielding writer a few more seconds of my time, a little more of my mental effort?

Let’s take these positive aspects of linking in ascending order of importance.

Links say “hello”.

A link to another site can serve as a way of telling that site, “I just said something about you.” This invites spammy abuse, of course. But it remains an elegantly simple device. Many bloggers still check their referrers today as they did a decade ago in the early days of weblogging. High-traffic sites can’t and won’t bother paying much attention to this, but out in the middle and nether reaches of the Web-traffic curve, this kind of link remains a valid and valuable social gesture.

Links show a writer’s work.

Any post or page with hand-selected links provides a record of the writer’s research, reading and sourcing. Some people are happier with this stuff collected at the end, as we did for centuries in print. But linking in situ gives the reader the information right where it’s needed. (If reading a link adds to “cognitive load,” surely the effort of scanning down to a footnote or, even worse, flipping back to an endnote piles on even heftier brain-freight.)

Links keep us honest and fair.

If you’re quoting someone and you link to the original, you’re saying to the reader, “Check my work – see if I’ve presented the other person’s point of view accurately and fairly.” This provides a powerful check on bullying and misrepresentation. It’s the rant without links, the disconnected diatribe, that’s suspect.

In a media environment where a dwindling number of participants believes that objectivity is either possible or desirable, the best yardstick for fairness we have is this: does a writer present the perspectives of those he disagrees with in a way that they feel is fair? Linking to those perspectives is a way for a writer to say: Go ahead – see if I got you right.

Links enhance trust.

<…> Not being afraid to link to other sites is a sign of confidence, and third-party sites are much more credible than anything you can say yourself. Isolated sites feel like they have something to hide.

Links knit context into the Web.

Most Web critiques includes ritual denunciation of the medium’s disconnected, fragmentary nature. And certainly there are plenty of fragments out there in HTTP-land. But the disconnected ones, by definition, don’t get read much. We read the posts and pages that get widely linked to.

A fragment that gets connected is no longer a fragment. It becomes a working part, a piece of a mosaic, a strand in a web. (There’s a reason these words are embedded in Internet history.)

It always amazes me to hear the complaint that the Web doesn’t provide readers with enough context. Then I realize that this criticism is usually made by print journalists. They are accustomed to having their words acquire a bountiful context on paper. Then, typically, their work is spat onto the Web by an automated content-management system – and served up without a link in sight.

Theirs is an experience of loss of context. But for the rest of us, writing for the Web offers more frequent and potent opportunities to give our words context than we’ve ever had before.

What pages shall we connect our words to? We have the entire rest of the Web to choose from! And the choices we make say worlds about our writing.

The context that links provide comes in two flavors: explicit and implicit. Explicit context is the actual information you need to understand what you’re reading. Here’s what I mean, if I can go all recursive on you for a moment: Let’s say you landed on this article out of nowhere. Someone sent you a link. (Now, right there Carr and the link-skeptics might say, “There’s the problem! If you were reading a magazine or a book, that would never happen.” To which I can only say, if the opportunity to receive pointers to interesting reading from a network of friends is a problem, it’s one I am very happy to have.)

So you land on my page and you might well have no idea what I’m talking about, since this was originally part three of a series. Links make it easy for me to show you where to catch up. If you don’t have time for that, links let me orient you more quickly in my first paragraph with reference to Carr’s post. I can do all this without having to slow down those readers who’ve been following from the start with summaries and synopses. Again, even if the links that achieve this do demand a small fee from your working brain (which remains an unproven hypothesis), I’d say that’s a fair price.

By implicit context, I mean something a little more elusive: The links you put into a piece of writing tell a story (or, if you will, a meta-story) about you and what you’ve written. They say things like: What sort of company does this writer keep? Who does she read? What kind of stuff do her links point to — New Yorker articles? Personal blogs? Scholarly papers? Are the choices diverse or narrow? Are they obvious or surprising? Are they illuminating or puzzling? Generous or self-promotional?

Links, in other words, transmit meaning, but they also communicate mindset and style. By this, I don’t mean “stylish linking.” <..> They come and go, just as catch-phrases and tics in casual writing do. <…> Mostly, Web users have rejected the practice of links that obscure or misdirect or joke. We prefer links that clarify.

The history of Web linking has been a long chronicle of controversies we didn’t need to have: irrelevant debates over issues like so-called deep linking (if you really don’t want to be linked to, why are you on the public Web?) or the notion of a power-law-driven A-list in blogging (if you want to become a celebrity, other media are far more efficient). To this list, we can now add the “delinkification” dustup.

It’s hard to imagine the benefit for ourselves, or for the Web, of a general retreat from linking. Writing on the Web without linking is like making a movie without cutting. Sure, it can be done; there might even be a few situations where it makes sense. But most of the time, it’s just head-scratchingly self-limiting. To choose not to link is to abandon the medium’s most powerful tool – the thing that makes the Web a web.

A long time ago, I wrote a column titled Fear of Links about the then-burgeoning movement of webloggers. I urged professional writers to stop looking down their noses at links and those who make them: “A journalist who today disdains the very notion of providing links to readers may tomorrow find himself without a job.”

That was 1999. Today, we live in that piece’s “tomorrow.”


1. What makes some authors believe that people who read hypertext comprehend and learn less than those who read the same material in printed form?

2. What approaches to hypertext exist?

3. Explain the notion of corporate linking. What other types of linking are there?

4. What are the positive aspects of linking?

III. Focus on the language

1. List 10 arguments for or against links. Make use of the following expressions.

To organize the Web’s chaos, to be a service, to be a boon, to be a new kind of communication, to document sources, to explain obscure facts and terms, to point people to deeper reading on a subject, to perform a low/menial task, chaotic and ill-organized information, to check sources, to dig for the truth, to make reading less efficient, to transmit meaning.

2. Note the following verbs that can be combined with the noun link. Make your own examples with the given word combinations.

To click the link open, to use links, to insert links, to provide links, to point to links, to bundle links, to find links, to follow up on a link, to overlook links, to ignore the link, to outnumber links, to embed links, to pass over a link, to compose links.

IV. Problem solving

1. Can links really help Internet users to cope with the vast media terrain? Dwell on the potential of links in making the chaotic nature of the Internet more organized.

2. Explain why links are dubbed “the medium’s most powerful tool”.

3. Express your opinion about the following: Hypertext can indeed ruin the process of reading.

4. Reading something on paper vs. reading it online. Give pros and cons of each method.

5. Is it possible to speak about the rise of a new breed of personal journalism online? Explain the essence of online journalism. Do you agree that using links to other people’s articles, opinions, sources of information etc. contradicts the notion of traditional journalism?

6. Express your opinion about the following: Online press is more reliable than offline news.

7. Do you agree that links are usually imposed on journalists by the business side or the editorial staff? How can this problem be solved?

V. Useful tips for your presentations

To apply the role playing technique successfully, consider the following information.

Role play in a simulation exercise where persons take on assumed roles in order to act out a scenario in a contrived setting. The learners or participants can act out the assigned roles in order to explore the scenario, apply skills (maybe communication, negotiation, debate etc.), experience the scenario from another view point, evoke and understand emotions that maybe alien to them. It helps to make sense of theory and gathers together the concepts into a practical experience.


In a role playing situation, students get the opportunity to practice skills they might not use on a regular basis. Skills such as debating, acting, reasoning and negotiating can be flexed in hypothetical situations when they cannot normally be used in a classic school situation. Students are also able to adapt to situations they might not normally find themselves in, forcing the creativity of the students to be exerted.


What are the advantages of roleplaying in training?

Some trainers have a tendency to over-estimate the value of role playing in training, but there is no question that role playing can provide powerful and significant learning opportunities. Here are some of the advantages role playing has over other instructional processes:

Role playing can develop greater involvement with the issues and knowledge that is the focus of training (but it may not create greater involvement).

Role playing can be used as a behavioral pre-training assessment or diagnostic to assess where a learner is in terms of skills, since the trainer can observe real behaviour.

Role playing also allows assessment of how well learner understands and can apply what is learned, as indicated in their behavior. Provides opportunity to practice in what is presumably a safer environment where mistakes have no real world consequences as would be the case in on the job practice.

Role playing practice can be segmented or divided up in ways that could not be done in real on the job settings. A person can practice a part of the actual skill to be learned until mastery, then another part of it and so on in progressively more complex steps. There can be a great deal of control over the practices.

Because role plays can be involving, both in emotional and cognitive ways, they can also be used to help people understand others, and the positions of others. For example, a person can role play a position with which they disagree, to better understand that position.


VI. Working on the project

Dwell on the controversial nature of links from the point of view of a) a journalist for a printed edition; b) a journalist for an online edition; c) a reader. Follow the useful tips above.