Is Star Wars link bait?
Monday, April 23, 2012 at 9:39PM
Dark Helmet in Politics, Religion, calgary herald

I have been blogging about Star Wars three to five times a week for about nine months now. For content I rely in part on Google News results for "star wars". Most of these results are useless to me, since I'm generally not interested in prequels or video games or dress-up parties (sorry, "cosplay"), but occasionally something worthwhile comes up. 

It was not long after I started this blog that I began to notice how often traditional media, especially newspapers, seemed to strain to add a Star Wars spin or hook to content that did not, in fact, have anything to do with Star Wars. I began to wonder whether newspaper publishers or editors have been asking their writers to insert Star Wars references--however inane--into their stories. I began to wonder if traditional media regarded Star Wars as link bait. 

Here's the latest example, from the web site of the Calgary Herald newspaper

Scientists create laser similar to Star Wars light sabre

A team of medical and physics experts developed a groundbreaking technique that significantly improves laser accuracy to the point where cutting can be controlled to stop at a precise point — comparable to the idea of a Star Wars light sabre.

Specifically, the team has demonstrated that they can stop the laser within 50 microns — or half the diameter of a human hair.

“A major problem that’s really hindering laser application in major surgeries is that the light beam just keeps going,” said Dr. James Fraser of Queen’s University in Ontario, the physicist who developed the device.

The density and power of the cut, however, would depend on the laser that the device is being applied to.

Fraser explained that lasers are advantageous to mechanical drills or scalpels, in some situations, because they can focus on very tight spots and the intensity of the light is controllable.

The procedure would be effective, for example, on surgeries that involve accessing the brain.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this headline is somewhat misleading. It does not, in fact, have any significant connection to Star Wars at all. So why did journalist Kyle Kipp feel it necessary to start his story with a Star Wars reference? I don't know. But maybe there is evidence somewhere that random references to Star Wars improve a site's SEO ranking or attract more eyeballs to the underlying article.

If you work in the media and know anything about this, I'd be interested in your comments.

Calgary Herald: Scientists create laser similar to Star Wars light sabre

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