Let's Stamp Out Hyperlinks

They're a little too distracting
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 1, 2010 4:31 PM CDT
Do hyperlinks help or hurt our understanding?   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Tech writer Nicholas Carr is rethinking the usefulness (or at least the placement) of one of the Internet's classic tools: the hyperlink. They're too distracting, the author of the Shallows writes on his blog. You might start out reading about the Israeli ship mess but a few clicks later find yourself in the Lindsay Lohan vortex with no idea what happened. And even if you do resist the temptation to click on a hyperlink, that mental calculation in itself distracts you from the main point of whatever you're reading.

"I don't want to overstate the cognitive penalty produced by the hyperlink (or understate the link's allure and usefulness), but the penalty seems to be real, and we should be aware of it," writes Carr. He suggests an experiment in "delinkification." Instead of inserting hyperlinks in the body of text, writers could put them all at the end. It makes for "more concentrated, calmer, and more enjoyable reading." So ignore those above and use these instead:
Carr's blog;
Israeli ship mess;
Lindsay Lohan.

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