I originally began this project with the intention of covering links and the sway they hold over any given post about any given topic. That’s when it hit me. As I scrawled through post after post of blogs such as Kevin Barbieux‘s The Homeless Guy and Google’s own blog I noticed a pattern in their usage of links in correlation to when they were stating fact versus opinion. After reading through a section titled Seeking and Reporting Truth of Uses of Blogs by Axel Bruns and Joanne Jacobs my observation was confirmed. This chapter was also comparing and contrasting bloggers versus journalists, which makes sense when discussing truth since journalists are the supposed producers of unbiased fact.
Anyway, to bring these idea fragments together is one word: truth. What is it? Where is it? How do we know if we can trust it?
Let us first jump to Barbieux. As an ex-homeless guy he has a lot to say on the topic. His blog is filled with insight and talks a lot about his personal experiences. If you happen to visit his blog you’ll also notice his extreme lack of links. Then I hit this post where he links to outside sources three times. Why did he link now instead of in the other four of five posts earlier? Because he was proving something. He mentions how he almost was one of those kids you saw on TV who brought a gun to school and took the lives of their peers. We still don’t know if this truly happened because his link leads to another one of his posts describing the event but you can really see his purpose for linking.
If we go to the next link on his post you can also see his use of support through links. He makes a few comments about Asperger’s and to prove what he’s saying is based on fact he links to an Asperger’s support site.
He becomes more believable the more sources he brings in. Just like in the book where it states:
The blog is an open forum in which information is offered, revised, extended, or refuted; the more who take part in the process, the merrier.
By linking all those places, Berieux is saying “Hey, I’m not just pulling this out of my butt. You can see here, here and here!”
Although Google can be a pretty reliable source to begin with, even their blog uses links. Take this post about the Google Science Fair. Immediately three names are thrown into the mix, each with their own ambiguous claim to fame. Fortunately, for those who don’t know what Louis Braille invented, Google has it linked right to a page dedicated to Science Heroes. With that kind of outside source, Google garners credibility. When explaining some key information, the post mentions “a panel of distinguished international judges.” If they didn’t have a link to the names and job descriptions of these “distinguished international judges” the participants could be judged by That One Guy Who Lives On That One Street Over In That One Country. I was very disappointed to learn that Daniel Kraft (one of the judges) was not the inventor of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.
All in all, you can see here that without these links, both blogs’ validity would be questioned. I mean, less questioned than it would have been; you can never ask “why” too many times.
Take this commercial for the new jazzed up Internet Explorer:
Now watch this parody titled: Internet Explorer 9 Commercial (The Honest Version)
Funny, yes. True? Maybe. Coming from an individual who only used Internet Explorer all the way up until college (I am now an avid Chrome user and am not planning on returning to the dark side any time soon), I can say yes to that. So, even though the first video may be backed up by links doesn’t mean it’s true.
WHERE DO WE DRAW THE LINE?
Everyone knows Wikipedia is a program that can be edited by everyone (including the trolls) and they still use it as a reliable resource. Why? Well, if you at any time have noticed the small blue numbers usually following a particular statement of “fact” those link to where someone has found that bit of information. For example: Facial Tissues. Even they have their own “References” section. If you find references, you find a little more truth than you had before. Whether or not you choose to believe these references is up to you. When it comes to the internet you can believe anything you want to believe, even if it means believing that Beyoncé is an illuminati super witch. However, the more verifiable links in a post the chances that the fact in question is true raises significantly. Anything else I could say has already been said by this State Farm Insurance commercial: