BlogHer: Danah Boyd on the meaning of links

The last session was a debate about the “Technorati 100”, how it’s a caste system, good old boys network, broken in numerous ways (latency, reliability), etc.

The most salient point from a (semantic) Web 2.0 perspective came from Danah Boyd who reminded women that the way they network (few, deeply personal) vs. how men network (many, more surface) is not accounted for in the semantic meaning of a link.

I wrote about this back in February coming off of BloggerCon III and couldn’t agree more; links do NOT mean approval or disapproval, nor do they embed the strength of feeling either way. This will change… but until it does… everyone would benefit by understanding the current implementation.

Update: A couple of things…

First, apologies to Danah in advance if using her full name in the title was unwanted (it’s generally considered bad form to use someone’s full name due to the Google rank implications — I was typing quickly while rushing off to live blog and was not thinking… my bad).

Second, Ryan King drops by and mentions VoteLinks, a microformat standard for adding more semantic meaning to links. This is a step in the right direction, but the vocabulary isn’t rich enough (though it does have simplicity to its favor). I’ll be very interested to see where Mary Hodder goes with her 20+ factors for links (which she mentioned at BlogHer); Mary, do you have the first 20 available for review/feedback?

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6 comments on “BlogHer: Danah Boyd on the meaning of links
  1. Anonymous says:

    Funny how that Old Boys’ Network (Technorati 100) happens to exclude 99.9999% of the boys out there.

  2. ryan king says:

    ” links do NOT mean approval or disapproval”

    That’s why we have vote links. And no, technorati goes not count ‘vote-against’ links in building its top 100.

  3. ryan king says:


    Thanks for the link in your post and I’m glad you like vote-links.

    Just one thing, though.. you say vote-links’ “vocabulary isn’t rich enough yet.” In what ways is it “not rich enough”?

  4. danah boyd says:

    My general rule is that you can post names when the person has a strong online presence and thus, you won’t affect their rank. Otherwise, i stay away from it.

  5. Tony Gentile says:

    Hey Danah! Thank you for taking the high road. 🙂

  6. xian says:

    That’s interesting – about posting names. I’ve never thought about that at all. I think I’ve used people’s names in headers, although rarely their full names I suppose. I’ll have to think about this…

    BTW, danah doesn’t capitalize her first or last name. I do try to follow a person’s lead in how they style their own name, so I honor danah’s way of writing her name as I would for bell hooks or e.e. cummings.