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Endlessly Deep: The Internet Rabbit Hole

February 09, 2013

"In another moment down went Alice after it [the white rabbit], never once considering how in the world she was to get out again." –Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

If you have spent any time at all online, you have probably experienced the following scenario. You find something interesting and you click on the link. Then you find another. And another. And another... Several hours later, you emerge dazed, wondering what just happened to the last several hours of your life. You have just exited the "Internet Rabbit Hole," a wonderland that is endlessly deep.

The very nature of the World Wide Web encourages journeys into wonderland. The hypertext structure of HTML allows a user to jump from one page to another, seemingly always finding yet another interesting link to click. If one gets lost, one can always hit the back button until things look familiar again. One can free-associate across the entire Web following the White Rabbit of interesting links. However, there are certain websites that by their very nature are portals leading to hours, even days of lost time.

In my last blog post, I referred to one such site: TVTropes.org. I have spent a ridiculous amount of time lost in TVTropes, and I don’t regret any of it. A brief survey of my coworkers yielded several of their entrances to wonderland: YouTube, Tumblr, IMDB, Wikipedia, I Can Has Cheezburger, Goodreads, and even MCPL's own online catalog. In fact, just about any website can lead you off into lost hours of surfing bliss. However, I would not consider social network sites like Facebook and Twitter to be entrances to the "Internet Rabbit Hole," as they qualify more as time sinks spent interacting with other users. A true descent into the "Internet Rabbit Hole" involves just one person, curiosity, and the magic of the World Wide Web, which just gets curiouser and curiouser the farther you descend.

"Begin at the beginning," the King said, very gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop." ― Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Still looking for the end of the Rabbit Hole,

Jeff D.
Grandview Branch

Image credit: "Down the rabbit hole" by Flickr user smath. via Flickr's Creative Commons.

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