Connecting and Linking on the web by Nicki Hambleton

Connecting and Linking on the web by Nicki Hambleton

Back in 1968 Andy Warhol was quoted as saying “everyone in the future will be world famous for 15 minutes” at an exhibition of his work in Sweden. 46 years on and there are countless websites referring to this quote, whether he actually said it and who else has referred to it since. Photographer Nat Finkelstein claims Warhol originally said in a photo shoot with him “Everyone wants to be famous” to which Nat replied “Yeah, for about 15 minutes”. Whatever the truth, the phrase is firmly fixed in our minds and none more true in today’s society.

“Looking at the proliferation of personal web pages on the Net, it looks like very soon everyone on Earth will have 15 megabytes of fame.” ~M.G. Sriram (Aditya Todi – Living Outside the Box)

Photo Credit: Anne Helmond via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Anne Helmond via Compfight cc

It seems today almost everyone has a blog, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram or Youtube account. Achieving your world wide famosity for 15 minutes, or at least 5 minutes, is not as difficult as it might have seemed back in the 60’s with the Internet at out fingertips. I wonder what Warhol’s Instagram would have been like had he been alive today.

We search online for everything and everyone, through LinkedIn to connect with other professionals, on Facebook to reconnect with lost friends or colleagues, micro blog on Twitter and share with like minded individuals, and watch or post videos on Youtube to learn or entertain ourselves. Anything is now just a click away, or a few clicks at the most, to take you to another place, to discover a new skill, read about a topic or learn about the world around. Facebook is becoming a place to spread news, stories, awareness as well as images. Just this week I have clicked links that have ranged from an artist recycling trash (Gregory Kloehn) to make homes for the homeless, read how Sarah Milligan fights back against her haters on Twitter, shared a story and image of a couple’s lost SD card from their honeymoon (Richard Pussell says he has reunited them now thanks to the online network!) and how James Aspey in Australia (Voiceless365) has given up speaking for a year in support of animals who cannot speak up for themselves. The Internet is an amazing source of intriguing, informative and often downright weird resources and it is easier today with such prolific sharing social media trends that we can find ourselves reaching far out around the world at the drop of a hat. Be my guest and click the links if you have the time or the inclination!

The World Wide Web dates back to 1990 when Sir Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist at CERN, first created what we know as the Internet today. The first web site is a very humble version of what we casually stumble on today yet it was here that history was written. With simple links to other information the whole concept of Click and Learn was begun. Now it is easy to get lost in the links that transport you in different directions from your original search and intention. There is a nice visual on Behance on the History of the Internet.

Photo Credit: Frank Wuestefeld via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Frank Wuestefeld via Compfight cc


Hyperlinks are the keys that unlock a whole new world of possibilities. They take you deeper into the subject or to a new connection to expand your knowledge. Berners-Lee called them “the heart of the web”. In my 23 tabs open world,  this chaotic state is often a result of clicking a link posted in a blog or article that literally opens up new ideas and possibilities for me. There is so much information out there now we can (and do) lose hours just browsing. Twitter is a constant source of links for me. I can scroll down the feeds and see something of interest, click the link and find new learning in a flash. It is through these connections online that we grow and share the most and I am constantly interested in how these connections develop. Searching online I see visualisations of connections and try out the LinkedIn visualisation to spot the groupings. I am relatively new to LinkedIn and have a different set of connections than on Twitter or Facebook but nonetheless the imagery is fascinating:

LinkedIn connections via LinkedIn mapsLinkedIn connections via LinkedIn maps

You can make your own by following this Youtube video:

Paul Butler, on Facebook says ” Visualizing data is like Photography. Instead of starting with a blank canvas, you manipulate the lens used to present the data from a certain angle.” Visualizing Friendships

Paul Butler’s Visualizing Friendships

I love visualisations, Infographics and would love to know of any other forms you have managed to do with regard to Twitter or Facebook, Youtube or other social media involving connections or friends. Please reply in the comments with a link if you know of any!

Hyperlinks and Copyright

Recently I read about the case of Barratt Brown and copyright infringement through the use of hyperlinks. It amazed me that this even went to court as the use of links are so ingrained in our culture now and imperative in referencing a source. However, the dispute centred around a subscription company, Retriever Sverige AB, who link to articles already available on the web. According to

“The problem came when Retriever published links to articles published on a newspaper’s website that were written by Swedish journalists. The company felt that it did not have to compensate the journalists for simply linking to their articles, nor did it believe that embedding them within its site amounted to copyright infringement.

The journalists, on the other hand, felt that by linking to their articles Retriever had “communicated” their works to the public without permission. In the belief they should be paid, the journalists took their case to the Stockholm District Court.” Andy, Torrentfreak February 13, 2014

The Court queried whether the “clickable links” were illegal if permission had not been sought from the copyright owner. In this case they would be illegal. A complex issue that resulted in the following report: “The Court of Justice decided two things. First, it said that it is legal to hyperlink works that are freely available on the open web. In such cases, the logic goes, people who stumble upon the hyperlink could just as easily have stumbled upon the original work, so they are all members of the same “public”. Second, it is illegal to hyperlink material in a way that gets around a firewall, subscription or key. This is because the hyperlink will involve communicating to a “new public”, broader than the original public for which the communication was intended.”

Julia Wiles on asks the question: “But what if you don’t know if it is authorised or not? The legality of uploaded content is far from clear in many cases, particularly when you consider content on hugely popular sites such as YouTube,BuzzFeed, and Gawker. The decision also assumes that the hyperlink will be to the exact same work, and that it will be in the same format as the original communication. It is hard to say what would be decided if there were an alteration on either of these points; though the implication from other cases cited in the decision is that there is a large risk of illegality.” “Copyright needs a drastic rethink for Digital Realm“,, February 14, 2014

It leaves a lot for us to think about, as we happily add a hyperlink to our blog posts in the thought that we are helping others to track our research and build their own understanding. I am sure what we are doing is fine, but it has put a little uncertainty back into what we do. How do we know we have the authority, the right or the legality to link to another? Teaching our young students the correctness of posting, sharing and linking has become more complex that we originally thought.

Photo Credit: t r e v y via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: t r e v y via Compfight cc

A chain is no stronger than its weakest link, and life is after all a chain. William James


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