The ethic of the link
: The background: Doc wrote a post about radio that I thought was great and so I linked to it. In that post, Doc said things that were too nice about me and I chose to ignore that because it would have seemed like tooting my own horn by pointing to it: My linkie Oscar moment (Doc likes me, he really likes me). But then Ben turned around and said that he thought it odd that I was pointing to Doc’s post without acknowledging what seemed to Ben like some psychological conflict of interest (was I linking to get you to see the nice words? … but then, if I really wanted you to see them, I would have mentioned them, no?). Ben didn’t have comments then, so I sent him email explaining that I thought it was better not to mention my connection — because Doc’s post was so good — but I did acknowledge debating the point. Ben started comments and put up my email, which is good. And Doc, typically, came back with a great internal debate on the point, which is my point of posting this whole shaggy-dog story. Says Doc:
Much of what we’re doing here amounts to teamwork. It’s not formal, or even conscious in many cases, but it does involve lots of “yes, and…” posting. Sometimes praise is involved. More often it isn’t. What matters is that we’re not doing it alone. And that we’re only beginning to understand what that’s about.
And then Mary Hodder joins in the discussion.
So I would say it’s right to point, for referrals and attribution, and lineage of thought, for community building and transparency. I’d rather know that Doc and Jeff refer to each other explicitly, than have it all happen behind the scenes, as if we all develop every idea in a vacuum, the way old style journalism appears to develop their stories. The people formerly known as the audience still maintain some of the training from big media, where we were led to believe this was true and real. It is not.
This is a matter of people getting used to the new online queues, the new behaviors and tools that support them, including both first and second order ones. But as people adjust, I think this ethical question will be worked out, and people will see the transparency and linking for what it is, and appreciate knowing the lineage up front, so they might make their own decisions about the ideas, the texts and the relationships within different communities who collectively collaborate on ideas and plans.
And I link to — and like — them all.