The issue of the complicated protocols of linking in the blogosphere has, once again, been raised.
The latest version comes from Kevin Drum, and I mostly agree with him:
- If I’m responding directly to someone, of course I link to them.
- Even if I don’t respond directly to someone, but only to a piece they linked to, I’ll probably provide a link if they said something interesting.
- If someone links to a common story that I would have seen anyway, I don’t.
- If I go to the original source, then I don’t bother linking to someone who mentioned a source.
My only minor complaint has to do with news services, like the Wall Street Journal, that refer to a report or source of data but never provide the link. And, if I want to go beyond their summary, I often have to do a lot of work tracking down the original. That simply doesn’t make sense when articles and blog posts appear online and providing links is so easy.
As for the rest, I really don’t much care. I’m not in the business of “breaking a story.” And, if I come up with an original interpretation, which someone else uses, that’s fine by me. If I’ve put it out there, then it’s an idea anyone else is free to disseminate, whether or not they link to my blog.
The real issue, it seems to me, is not whether or not someone follows the protocols of linking but what kinds of ideas are permitted into the debate. When the views of mainstream economists are the only ones we hear or the only ones that are considered “serious,” then we have a problem. The same problem that got us into this mess in the first place. When the limitations of the official discipline of economics are carried over to the blogosphere—when the only views that are considered relevant stem from and fit within the narrow range of ideas that define mainstream economics—then I do get angry.
And no appropriate protocol of linking is going to solve that problem. It’s a discursive problem, a disciplinary problem, not a deficiency in the existing protocols of linking.
Why are the limits to the present debate so narrow? That is the question.