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Firehose, et tu?

So… this is a very cool hack. I admire it. But I have to ask what the social utility of it is. Should we assume that the links with multiple incoming links are more important? Less important?

We tend to assign importance to numbers, regardless of whether any was intended. I’m sure I sound like an idiot idealist, but the tendency to equate popularity to quality disturbs me a little. Google is the most obvious flagbearer for this concept, by the nature of their algorithm; they do a pretty good job of toning down the effect, but you still find this blog way too high in the results when you search on “Population.” It seems to me that Ben Hammersley’s hack encourages people to think of sites with more incoming links as more important, simply because it makes the information so accessible.

Yes, it feels kind of odd to be saying that we shouldn’t be making information more accessible. Hm. Perhaps it’s a UI issue. Complex interfaces that jam too much info in front of your face are bad. You have to think about what the user actually needs. In this case I’m not sure there’s any need for the user to know how many incoming links Technorati has counted; it isn’t ever going to be useful information in the determination of whether or not to click, so why put it there?

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