Reading vs. Scanning, Browsing vs. Searching

A common objection to blogs is that because the medium is so easy to update and the cost so low, too much unedited drivel makes it online to make the material useful as a source of business information. I have to say I don’t mind people speaking their mind in an unedited stream. I describe it as viewing the raw feed from a network news show, the satellite uplink where you get to see the anchorman get his nose powdered during the commercial break.

To me, the rough edges, where you see the process behind the production is an important part of the context. To those that view these edges as irrelevant and something that should be edited out of sight, I say that any skillfully-crafted search statement should be able to cut right by these distractions.

The internet is messy. It’s not about finished pieces – it’s about works in progress. When Usenet was my the source of information, my kill file was my friend, it helped me filter out irrelevance. Navigating through a site map or other navigational aid is becoming a paradigm of the past. Now it’s all about using search engines used as scalpels to get right to the point. This is why search engine marketing has become such a hot business.

I read magazines, I browse newspapers. I search the internet, I scan the results. I really don’t browse the internet anymore. If there’s a lengthy piece I want to read, I print it.

Which leads me to my last point. I saw the piece about blogging on ABC Nightline last night and the one good point they made is that as links are propagated to the second and third degree, they drift further from the original point and the linking process twists original context much like a phrase gets misinterpreted in a game of telephone.

How do we keep necessary context while also allowing people to drill down past it?

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