Couple of key innovations out this week from NY Times. Very small but when done at scale can allow mainstream adoption of deep linking.
What is deep linking. For example if you have a link to a page then deep link would point you to a specific section within the page. So a dual action is performed – first navigate to the page and then navigate to the section within the page.
So what are the innovations?
Permalink to any paragraph on the NY Times website
Head over now to NY Times, hit Shift key twice in succession and you will see the paragraph mark, Pilcrows, appear. Try it now, I shall be around. Each paragraph mark provides a link to itself directly.
Now intra page links have always been available using the named section approach. So what makes this special? Instead of the content creator deciding upfront what sections should be marked out for navigation, the ability to generate links to a paragraph is baked into the infrastructure. The syntax is simple too, it uses the named section idiom by appending a name after the #. You just add the letter ‘p’ followed by the paragraph number.
Now this is not a new innovation. Dave Winer, the guru of RSS spec, has been doing this on his Scripting.com site for ages. Check Winer’s coverage of NY Times implementing this feature. But for someone with the reach of NY Times to do this makes it ready for mainstream consideration and adoption.
Highlight any paragraph or sentence(s)
This feature extends the idiom of the paragraph linking mentioned above. Just that it highlights a paragraph or a sentence or even a set of sentences. If you need to do this for multiple sections or sentences you could just append the required markup together.
Benefits of Paragraph Permalinks and Highlight Idioms
The benefit is not just time saved for the content creator. It could go to the very root of how content is packaged, distributed, consumed, commented upon and tracked. The creator of the page provides his view of packaging his content. Consumers can subsequently opine about specific sections, have conversations around them and more. They can also assemble sections of content from different pages and further distribute it. Permalinks and ability to highlight sections, using both these approaches, will be available by naturally extending the idioms that the Web infrastructure already provides.
This blog too has Winer Links implemented. Go to any post instead of the home page and you can see it action. For example check this post. You can implement this on your WordPress site too using the excellent plug-in by Daniel Bachhuber called WinerLinks.
Anyway, that is my take on this feature. What do you think? You should add comments below on what you think.