Friday, June 24, 2011

Links aren't funny

I read Stephan Pastis' comic strip, Pearls Before Swine, just about daily on the Internet. I've even shared some of them here; the "embed" code was available for free, and anyone could post a PBS comic on a blog or website (which would automatically link back to the originating site).

I wanted to share today's comic, too. But since the last time I've shared a PBS comic, the site has changed to become a "Go Comics" website.

Go Comics is, in my not-always-humble opinion, the least user-friendly comics viewing website available online. There is a push for registered membership, followed by more pressure to sign up for the paid "Pro" membership, for one thing. I have other complaints--but the inability to share comics easily is the biggest.

It is possible to get permission to share Go Comics comic strips on one's website--for a price. But just sharing a strip with one's small blog audience because the strip is eerily reminiscent of one's own frustrations with the world of put-together furniture? Nope. Not possible.

Oh, but I can link to the strip. See that link, readers? Isn't it funny? No? Why, I'm surprised.

Of course, readers can click on the link to go to the comic to see why I think it's funny. But maybe you come to my blog through Google Reader, and don't want to click on the link. Maybe you have children in the room, and have no idea what sort of advertising will come up on the Go Comics site. Maybe your computer's internet connection is slow, and the advertisements on the page make it load so slowly that you no longer care why I thought Pastis' joke about put-together furniture was worth sharing. Maybe you read my blog at work on your break--but your company blocks certain commercial sites like Go Comics. Or maybe as you skim through your Google Reader you see links and think vaguely that perhaps they lead somewhere interesting, but you haven't got time in your allotted-fifteen-minutes-of-blog-reading to click on them all, so you move on.

Sure, this blog post is a bit tongue-in-cheek. There are plenty of serious issues in the world, and the inability to share easily the things one finds amusing is hardly a big deal. But in all honestly I find the trend toward making Internet content less free and more difficult to share and enjoy a stupid one--almost as stupid as buying put-together furniture when you have the manual dexterity of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and about as much patience.

postscriptum: Yes, I could hypothetically steal the comic strip image without permission. But I'm a born rule-follower. Except when it comes to put-together furniture.


John E. said...

Might I suggest using Firefox with the AdBlock Plus add-in?

Because when I clicked on the link, I went directly to the comic. No ads, no fuss, no mess.

I sympathize wrt to Ikea furniture...

Anonymous said...

Ditto. I hate gocomics. At least Dilbert rss is still free and easy and comes up with the comic and nothing else.

Geoff G. said...

Red, the Comics Curmudgeon seems to download individual strips and post them to his own site in order to display them without ads and within the flow of each blog post.

My guess is that because he's providing commentary and reviewing individual strips (and doesn't post the same comics every day like a newspaper would), he's covered as fair use under copyright law, so you could probably do the same thing.

You could even turn each image into a link back to the site where the comic strip is posted, if you want to be nice about it.

The code for that would look like:

<a href="URL for the strip on Go Comics goes here"><img src="URL to the strip image on your site goes here" alt="" /></a>