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Summary of the Hyperlinked Society Conference - June 9, 2006, by Pat Aufderheide

The Hyperlinked Society conference--what a great way to spend a Friday in Philadelphia! Joe Turow from the Annenberg Public Policy Center organized it. He brought together folks from business, scholarship and new nonprofit practice to talk about how linking, RSS and today’s social networking change the way we think about media.

Some of my favorite moments:

Tony Gentile (Healthline) raising a couple of eyebrows when Eric Picard (Microsoft) said that the solution to linkspam would be better net identity. "I can’t wait to get Microsoft Passport," Tony said ironically. Others also said that anonymity on the net had advantages as well as the disadvantage (big and growing) of linkspam.

Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, asking Martin Nisenholtz, the head of the New York Times’ digital operations (which are huge) how many employees he had. "A hundred and fifty," estimated Nisenholtz. "Yeah, we have three," said Wales. Wales suggested that some hybrid of curated or internally produced content with volunteer and unmoderated content would be the future of news and public affairs. He also reminded the audience of the common misapprehension that Wikipedia is the work of millions, all of whom "add a drop," Actually, he noted, it is produced by a small core of people, with one-time visits and corrections by many more.

The dazzling graphics of the "Mapping the Lines of Influence" panel. We were taken on visual journeys as if in Star Wars. But we were going into the blogging universe, where liberal blogs (blue blobs) have huge traffic with each other and conservative blogs (red blobs) have much less. Blue definitely dominates the blog universe.

Seth Finkelstein, a censorware expert, begging people to remember that popularity wasn’t the same thing as quality, and that Google rankings are popularity contests.

Lee Rainie and Amanda Lenhart sneaking a few observations about their forthcoming blogging study. We can’t wait!

Jack Wakshlag, Chief Research Office of Tuner Broadcasting, reminding the group that television was still the most powerful medium in terms of reach, and that new media’s growth is much more astounding than its current reach compared with television.

This was also a terrific conference for putting people who otherwise might not cross over into each other’s, uh, domains. It was great to see Renee Hobbs, the media literacy guru from Temple University, and Nelson Pavlosky, the undergraduate media activist who started freeculture.org. And Larry Gross, a leader in cultural studies and prof at the "west coast" Annenberg at University of Southern California. And Marc Perlman, a brilliant ethnomusicologist who’s starting a research project to understand better how to employ Fair Use. And my colleague Marwan Kraidy, who I never of course get to see on campus, who’s finishing a book on media and the public in the Middle East.

Props to Joe!