Context Still Matters

Crawford, Walt
May 2004
EContent;May2004, Vol. 27 Issue 5, p42
Trade Publication
This article deals with the author's opinion on the contextual loss of weblogs. A form of indirect reading loses the visual context of the weblog or econtent site and full-text feeds lose the comments that frequently enhance weblog entries. Depending on how one uses an aggregator, it can also muddy context: a person may not notice that he have gone from one source's postings to the next. As long as individual items are grouped by source and always identified with that source, there does not seem to be a major problem. Really Simple Syndication aggregation probably involves less loss of context than Google News and other similar services. Many magazines and econtent sites carry thematic clusters or groups of articles on a common topic. If the article appears on its own, that context disappears. There is an aspect of context that may affect econtent sites more than it does print periodicals: Items appear at a particular time. Read months or years later without that time stamp, an item may take on considerably different significance. But this is a controllable contextual loss. As long as the time stamp stays with the article, the reader can reconstruct some of the temporal context. For many items, however, a more important temporal context is a sequence of items that appear on the econtent site.


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