Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sharing Links Intelligently

Links are the neurons of the Internet. How, when, and where should one share hyperlinks?

In this post I go over

  • Links within Blog Posts
  • Links Shared on Facebook
  • Links Shared on Twitter
  • Social Bookmarking: Serious Link Sharing
  • A Tool for Presenting Sets of Links
  • Tools for Sharing Sets of Links 
It's that last item that I'm most excited about today, due to the arrival of a new tool from

Links within Blog Posts
Some kinds of connecting are more valuable than others. For example, hyperlinking to something from within a blog post is of more value than emailing someone a weblink. Not only does each hyperlink increase one's own visibility within search results, but in the aggregate all those links that we make "teach the machine," increasing the overall intelligence of the net. The next time you are tempted to share a link through email, ask yourself why you don't share that link publicly. It could mean more to more people that way -- especially as you expose your attention stream and research interests to the many publics who might find these of value.

Links Shared on FacebookEvery time that you make a blog post, you should post a link to that blog post on your Facebook status update. In fact, you can automatically do this on Facebook (for a single blog). This is a way of getting your information most quickly to your social circle (assuming you are active on Facebook).

Links Shared on TwitterA lot fewer people use Twitter than Facebook, but it is increasingly important as tool for broadcasting what you are doing or discovering what others are up to, and the more valuable tweets are those that include links to content.

Social Bookmarking is Serious Link Sharing
I don't think you are really in the game with sharing links until you have a social bookmarking service. Services like Digg, Delicious, Stumbleupon or Diigo essentially syndicate your attention stream, and that is a very good thing. One's social bookmark stream can be subscribed to by others, posted into a widget on the side of one's blog (see the Diigo widget on the side of this blog as an example), associated with a group (such as our Digital Civilization bookmarking group on Diigo), etc. And since one can follow people on some of these services, link sharing becomes a natural networking device for personal or professional purposes. And if one gives tags to one's bookmarks (which we all should do) it then makes those bookmarks more easy to find (for ourselves or other humans, as well as for machines doing semantic searches). For what it's worth, I've found Diigo and Stumbleupon the best. Both have available toolbars. I love Stumbleupon's serendipity engine (the subject for another day).

A Tool for Presenting Sets of Links
One of the nice features in Diigo is webslides. Provided that you have first created a public "list" within Diigo to which you have saved a set of bookmarks, you can then turn this list, instantly, into a public presentation that walks through each of the bookmarked web pages (this can also be done with anyone else's public lists on Diigo). So, for example, I have a list of bookmarks on Diigo called "Digital Scholarship." If you click on that link you will see, on the right, an option to play that list as a set of webslides. There are options to auto-play or walk it through manually, and if you re-arrange the bookmarks within the Diigo list you can then change the order of the webslides. It isn't a perfect system, but it sure cuts down on prep time for presentations. Though I have not tried it yet, there is an option to add voice narration to a webslides presentation, then publish this as a widget.

Tools for Sharing Sets of Links
For some time I've been looking for a good system for sharing sets of links. I've loved using Diigo for social bookmarking in general, and it does provide a variety of good ways to share links. However, I have not found it to be a simple thing to create, maintain, or share its lists of links. I suppose that I could, since the functionality is there. However, I'd like something simpler.

One solution is, a very simple tool through which you simply add a list of links and then it gives you a single URL that will give anyone else that same list of original URLs (plus the option to open all of these links in separate tabs). For example, click on this link to see a list of addresses for student blogs from this class I started making. The list is not complete. That's one of my problems with You can't go back and edit the bunch of links you've made.

A better solution was the recently announced feature from, called "bundles." started as a simple URL shortener (like tiny.url) used mostly to save character space for giving links on Twitter. But I've become a big fan of due to the fact that you can customize a link with a specific name. For example, when I gave a presentation on the history of Mormon film in Atlanta earlier this month using Prezi, at the end of the Prezi I gave a link to that very Prezi presentation so people could remember it easily: The second reason I love is that it give you analytics on the links that you create. When that viral video went around recently, the parody that BYU's library did on the Old Spice commercial, I created a link and posted it to Twitter / Facebook. Now I know that of the 10,187 people that shortened the link to this on and shared it, I generated 38 of those links (hooray!). Actually, this kind of data can be really important to find out if people have actually clicked on any links you've posted.

But it's the new feature that has really got me excited. now allows you to create and share bundles of links (which get their own analytics, if that matters to you). It is possible to annotate each link within the bundle, give a title to the whole bundle, and (using the DISQUS plugin) create a conversation around a set of links. This is really going to be useful. So, for starters, I created a list of various Diigo groups that I follow in the areas of educational technology and mobile computing. I can go back and add to, re-arrange, or annotate these links at any time. And I can share them with you.