Observations about the evolution of the WWW

I suppose this might seem blindingly obvious, but …

In the early days of the web, the convention was that if there was a bit of text that was interesting, you’d link that text to another page that gave further details. This way, a document could remain brief, but still contain a wealth of material.

Soon, an annoying practice started up. Instead of merely linking the phrase, they’d insert into their paragraph the phrase “Click Here for more information. This was aggravating, because if you just wanted to read the synopsis, you’d be interrupted every 6 words by the phrase “Click Here”. This was particularly irritating if you weren’t using a graphical browser, and so you were not clicking at all. Grr.

Well, it appears that the “Click Here” people have won. While there are a few very geek websites that still practice the Old Way, the vast majority of websites tell you to “Click Here”, as though you don’t actually know how to use a browser.

Another irritating trend started up about the time that businesses started getting web sites. Whereas before that time, the purpose of a web site was to link to other web sites, when businesses started their web sites, they started to spread the wisdom that offsite links were BAD, because they took your audience elsewhere. Or, worse yet, that you should open these links in a new window or warn your audience that links to other sites were not endorsed, and probably not worthwhile visiting.

These days, it seems that most websites are closed systems. They have links to other pages within their own website, but you can’t get here from there.

Interestingly, it’s the websites that *do* link elsewhere that are the busiest. Google, Slashdot, and Yahoo are good examples of this, but, of course, there are others. These are the sites that you keep going back to, precisely because they link to other sites.

Anyways, I’m sure that this isn’t news to anybody, but it was an interesting observation to me. And that’s what reall matters.