The New York Times has unveiled a new deep-linking tool, named Emphasis. The idea is that now, for any Times article, one could link to a paragraph or sentence specific parts of the article. From the Times’s perspective, they’ll now be able to track which articles are shared or excerpted around the web in mostly realtime and see how their content is repurposed. I don’t think for piracy reasons, but you could use those analytics to better determine how content is purposed on the web.
“The ability to add emphasis to specific portions of text opens up a lot of exciting possibilities. Even at the simplest level, determining the most highlighted piece of text in an article — or across the site at any given moment — could make for interesting insights,” writes Michael Donohue, who created this application. To that end, he’s made Emphasis available for implementation on other websites by posting the source on GitHub, and it’s been turned into a WordPress plugin.
Like Robin, I agree, that outside the Times, the ramifications for this could be useful for publishers. “And it seems to me that it’s actually an argument, in code, for the good ol’ fashioned open web—the web of pages and links. It’s like: “Slow down, App Store! We’re not done with this thing over here. We still have work to do.” Maybe it’s a futile argument,” he writes, “Maybe the era of earnest linking is waning, and that’s just the way it is. But you never know. The web has surprised us before.”
For regular people, who don’t get excited at the thought of deep textual linking on the web, which I admit there’s probably like five of us out there, if every website had this feature implemented, you, the regular internet user, would have a much easier time saving that paragraph of advice or great writing or that interesting thing you wanted to share with others in a much more specific manner. Instead of linking to an entire article or page, you could send a link to the relevant portion.