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Links under fire

by Giles Turnbull -- 2000/09/06

How is it that hyperlinks have become such a cause for controversy? The internet could not have happened without them - so why is it that so many lawyers and business people just don't seem to get it?

Hyperlinks are as fundamental to the way the web works as TCP/IP and HTTP. It is thanks to the built-in logic and simplicity of the hyperlink that people first started to make their own web pages - so they could create links to all their friends.

But the impact of big business on the net seems to have brought with it an avalanche of cluelessness and anti-common sense, which allows people to treat links as though they owned them.

Why can't people using the web for their business purposes understand that linking is part of the deal? That if you're putting a document, or a file, or anything else online, you're effectively allowing people to link to it?

That the mere idea of hyperlinking should be one subject to patent law is silly enough, but when companies start suing eachother over whether or not a link should exist, we know we have got a problem on our hands.

What's missing is a certain amount of understanding of crucial issues, in the heads of some of the senior management controlling the big money that pays for today's web developments.

Quite simply, the situation is becoming ridiculous, and all because some people - sadly, the ones that make decisions - don't have a clue. But then, that's what the Cluetrain was all about.