Too Big to Know: 1st post

Page 116

‘Long-form writing is often a better instrument of understanding when it is embedded in a web of ideas, conversations, and arguments, all linked and traversable.  The writings of Charles Darwin, Nicholas Carr, and Jay Rosen are more useful, understandable, verifiable, and up to date because of the links that point into them and out from them.  The links not only let us easily engage with the works, they show us how the rest of our culture is engaging with them.’

When I read this paragraph I wondered if the links that are now being imbedded in long form arguments might actually be making it harder to completely read the argument.   I can see the allure of an author wanting to address objections as they arise rather than anticipating them, but I wonder if linking away from your topic increases the number of people who will stop reading halfway through and not return.  Although it is not a completely analogous example, I thought of looking up an article on Wikipedia coming across a term that you are unfamiliar with and, since it is hyperlinked, you click on it and discover the history or meaning or connotation of the word and then come across another unknown and continue to fall down the rabbit hole until it is time for bed or other responsibilities rear their heads.  Long form arguments are also subject to the intrusiveness of the internet.  If one is reading a lengthy article or chapter and has multiple tabs open, a new email or instant message could break their concentration with important work issues or funny pictures of cats.

I don’t know if this line of thought is correct because many people are already having deep discussions in response to arguments posted in online forums and blogs as can be seen in the author’s examples elsewhere in this chapter.  I may be thinking too literally and projecting my own issues with researching issues on the internet as I find it is very easy to become distracted with all the content available.