Observation/Question: Can links substitute for citations?
A trend I've noticed recently is that there are more academic-type essays and articles on blogs but they are using links to http://isbn.nu or Amazon instead of footnotes or parenthetical citations to books or articles. My initial thought was that this is just a shorthand for the web but isn't appropriate for real academic work -- even if the article is posted electronically. My second thought: what are citations for? They are so that the author can give credit to the originator of the thought/data/quote and also help the reader find the work. It seems to me that links (if intact) are better
at this than citations. Plus, there's no need to scroll down. In fact, you can sometimes link directly to the exact paragraph instead of just giving a page number. There are three complications: 1) when the link breaks 2) when the article is printed 3) all things can't be linked in the same way. One of the pleasures of a well cited work is that all of the citations follow the same pattern so the reader can easily find the volume, number, etc. Links do not reliably go to the paragraph; in fact, some may stop at the title page. For this case, should the author have to provide instructions (click here, scroll down to the third arrow, click on the box...). I'm sticking with citations because I like them but I won't discount an article just because it substitutes links.
5/18/04- An update: turns out that linking to Amazon gets the book higher in Technorati's BookTalk
. It's kind of like chaos theory (if a butterfly flaps... becomes if an unknown blogger links...)