It begins thusly:
The towers looked like legless stick figures, waving to the neighbors across the French landscape. Spaced six miles apart and stretching between the major cities of France, the optical telegraph system devised by Claude Chappe became the first high-speed communications network in Europe. By using this ingenious method, Chappe helped spark a revolution revolutionized rapid communication. The method of transmission was simple. the tower’s operator would set the mechanical arms into one of 94 positions, corresponding to a letter, a number, or a special symbol. The next closest neighboring tower would use a telescope to view the arrangement and set his own tower to a similar configuration. By using this crude system of mechanical mimicry, messages could be sent at more than one hundred miles an hour, an astonishing speed for the 1790’s.
Technology has radically changed in the three centuries since Chappe invented his system of telegraphy. Fiber optics and wireless communications make it possible to communicate almost instantaneously with people across the globe. But the blogosphere has resurrected the Frenchman's method of passing information by mirroring the messages of others.
Bloggers tend to be unfairly lumped into two distinct camps of “thinkers”, those who write original content, and linkers, those who simply link to other articles or blog posts. Few bloggers, however, are exclusively linkers or thinkers; most combine a mixed approach to blogging. But just as some bloggers tend to produce compelling, original analysis or thought-provoking opinion pieces, others have a gift for shepherding readers to the material that matters most.
Though undervalued, linkers are even more essential to the health of the blogosphere than are thinkers. After all, the world is inundated with provocative ideas and punditry. But finding one’s way within the information avalanche requires what Hugh Hewitt calls “cyber-sherpas.” Talented linkers, however, do more than merely guide their readers to this information. They provide the value-added services of sifting through dozens or even hundred of blog posts, news updates, and magazine articles and sharing the handful that are worthy of attention. Like the tower operator’s in Chappe’s France, linkers provide the link between information and the reader.
I do look at that as my function. I wade through a lot of marginally interesting, uninteresting, and/or repetitive stuff in my daily reading and try to link only to things that are worth the time!