tradewinds - 3:43 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)
I found a company (in a former life) who had abandonned basic link building and instead had created a powerful forum on their industry. They and two non competitive companies were linked to from the homepage but apart from that the forum was pretty link free. It was a popular forum with perhaps a TBPR6/10 I think they picked up quite a bit of PR from that one link.
Reminds me of this thread [webmasterworld.com ]
Not by design, but think about this: if you click a link from Google and go to a page, and that page has no interesting off site links - then you are going to turn around and go back to Google.
I'm not sure about this conspiracy.. there are still plenty of nofollow/redirecting + target="_blank"/"_new" outbound links to be found everywhere, plus any serious webmaster would invest heavily into user retention / lowering bounce rates.
That said, I do believe that the powers that be are trying to slowly strangle the possibilities for traffic independence. Facebook is the next step in the Orwellian evolution process of the internet world after Google as it wants you to do everything while logged-in within its massive, CIA-funded walled garden.
Like Alex Tew and his million-dollar-homepage, increasingly the best way for the individual to maximize his/her chances of success on the internet will be viral/word-of-mouth marketing/publicity. Like linkbait however, expect this form of marketing to become incredibly "noisy" and saturated.