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Thursday December 15, 2005
Inline Text Ads
So... I'm over at PhysOrg.com reading some cool news -- apparently another Kuiper belt object has been discovered, but the tilt of its orbital plane (47 degrees tilted from that of our Solar System's planets) and its nearly circular orbit are playing havoc with existing theories for how the Kuiper belt formed and evolved.
Several words in the article appeared to be hyperlinked, and the first was the temporary name of the 500-to-1000 kilometer object: "Buffy." I expected to be linked to articles about how temporary naming took a fun spin with "Xena" recently, but no, this was a sponsored link, and mousing over it gave me a pop-up about buying Buffy The Vampire Slayer on DVD.
There were other words in the article that were similarly linked -- "remote," "coax," and "computers." Each was pointed to a page that had absolutely NOTHING to do with Kuiper belt objects, or even astronomy. Go look at the article and see those words in context, and you'll see what I mean.
I love HTML. I love the way the appropriate use of anchor tags and hyperlinks allows us to deepen our understanding of subjects by connecting words, terms, and phrases to articles that provide further information. The Astronomy Picture of the Day and Wikipedia both do this really, really well.
I also like Internet advertising. I have to -- it pays my bills. But it's getting better and better at connecting me with products, services, and information germane to what I'm reading about, or otherwise closely related to my own interests. Mind you, I block pop-ups, and scan pages for content before granting an eyeball to the ads, but it's nice. If I'm in a hurry, the ads don't slow me down a bit. I've designed my own site with this principle in mind.
But the method of inlining the ads used at PhysOrg hijacks the reader, confounding attempts at deeper understanding. PhysOrg just trained me to keep my mouse the heck out of that window while I'm reading -- I can't trust their hyperlinks.
Besides, I already own all seven seasons of Buffy on DVD.