"Links" are among the most basic—and most unexamined—features of online life. Bringing together a prominent array of thinkers from industry and the academy, The Hyperlinked Society addresses a provocative series of questions about the ways in which hyperlinks organize behavior online. How do media producers' considerations of links change the way they approach their work, and how do these considerations in turn affect the ways that audiences consume news and entertainment? What role do economic and political considerations play in information producers' creation of links? How do links shape the size and scope of the public sphere in the digital age? Are hyperlinks "bridging" mechanisms that encourage people to see beyond their personal beliefs to a broader and more diverse world? Or do they simply reinforce existing bonds by encouraging people to ignore social and political perspectives that conflict with their existing interests and beliefs?
This pathbreaking collection of essays will be valuable to anyone interested in the now taken for granted connections that structure communication, commerce, and civic discourse in the world of digital media.
"This collection provides a broad and deep examination of the social, political, and economic implications of the evolving, web-based media environment. The Hyperlinked Society will be a very useful contribution to the scholarly debate about the role of the internet in modern society, and especially about the interaction between the internet and other media systems in modern society."
—Charles Steinfield, Professor and Chairperson, Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media, Michigan State University
Cover image: This graph from Lada Adamic's chapter depicts the link structure of political blogs in the United States. The shapes reflect the blogs, and the colors of the shapes reflect political orientation—red for conservative blogs, blue for liberal ones. The size of each blog reflects the number of blogs that link to it.