Sgt_Kickaxe - 7:09 pm on Apr 11, 2012 (gmt 0) [edited by: Sgt_Kickaxe at 7:17 pm (utc) on Apr 11, 2012]
Yes, I do. Links became a nightmare to manage and social signals plus simple text/images convey a subject much more accurately than 'links' do.
I think saying 'Tom Hanks' is enough for Google to know this article may be associated with Tom's official site since I'm not also mentioning TMZ which would then make a TMZ page about Tom Hanks more related. Hyperlinks can be bought and manipulated, I think their days have been numbered for some time.
googlebot does not crawl your pages through your links either, it hits urls directly and is constantly trying to find new ones to visit(directly). My GWT is full of guessed at urls that have never existed and my gut tells me that is related to link deprecation. Google will have known that eventually people would figure out that links were no longer to be relied upon and had to be ready to discover new pages without them.
Not the number of links that count now but it is the way all the links combined bring show a natural spread into the web from all sources.
You don't need links for that, if you write about Tom Hanks just saying his name is enough to cause a connection between your site and his official site. Connection strength is based on other factors but the connection is there anyway.
[edited by: Sgt_Kickaxe at 7:17 pm (utc) on Apr 11, 2012]