I’ve often clicked on a link in Twitter and been confronted with a wall of text, scrolling and speed-reading to find the part of the post that’s relevant to the conversation. Paragraph-level permalinks are a simple way to link directly to a specific part of an article.
UPDATE April 1 2011: I’ve disabled the WinerLinks plugin. It was causing me too many issues with the site (and it looked a little odd).
I think the idea of linking to any paragraph in an article is brilliant. When quoting an article or linking on Twitter or in commenting on a post the ability to point the reader to any part of that post is indispensable.
It all seems to have begun, as many things do, with Dave Winer (@davewiner), one of the fathers of the internet in its current form. He pioneered the development of blogs, RSS, podcasting, web content management software and more. His ideas are usually very big and his solutions very simple. He has been using paragraph-level links on his blog for several years, but on June 23 he blogged about ideas for a better solution.
Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu), a longtime friend and collaborator of Winer’s, incorporated the idea in his redesigned blog last week. A coder, Daniel Bachhuber (@danielbachhuber), Digital Media Manager at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, saw a @NiemanLab post about the redesign and this new feature and wrote a WordPress plugin to make it easy to add the feature to any WordPress install.
The plugin is very simple. I’ve implemented it on this blog. The # at the end of each paragraph is the link to that paragraph. I still need to work on styling the link to make it less intrusive. I also need to fix some of my posts – I’ve been adding superfluous paragraph returns for styling purposes and need to improve my methods. The feature was turned on painlessly in less than five minutes.
Hopefully, it will get some use over time.