Shared Connections

A media site regularly makes connections between different articles. Connected by time (daily newspaper, noon newscast), content categories (news, sports, business), importance (front page or top of the hour) and special story packages.

Individuals also make connections between different articles, either mental, or physical (clipping or recording). For instance a mother might collect teen drinking stories to convince her child not to go out Friday night, or a memory of various articles about the town you grew up in. However, it is rare that people are able to share their connections with strangers. Weblogs are a good example of these connections being shared, however they require a large personal commitment and a bit of technical knowledge.

I can envision a system that would allow readers, reporters, editors, and random community members to create and share these connections within the format of an online media site. To build a usable connection or string of connections (similar to the original idea of the Memex by Vannevar Bush), there forth several key components.

  • The ability to connect different articles
  • To write comments on those articles
  • To easily store them for future viewing.
  • Lastly, they would need to be able to be shared between different readers with each person being able to add their own input.

Bush, conceived the memex being used mostly by academics and researchers to expand the idea of a library. However, online newspapers are beginning to step into the roll of regional libraries offering archived information and gateways to other resources. In addition, Bush's "trails" theory is a useful tool to connect thoughts and opinions outside of the academic realm.

Connections between stories don't have to be made manually. Amazon's "user's also bought..." feature allows people to jump from item to item based on the connections made passively by it's large userbase. Weblogs have also developed a system called "trackback" that connect stories by the source linking to them.