Posts Tagged ‘learning’

Random, adjacent content

Posted on: July 28th, 2010 by Fransgaard No Comments

Fact: As good digital professionals we strive to always deliver relevant content to the user! What they are looking for, when they are looking for it, fast!

Question: Is that a good thing?

When I was a kid I was a curious sort. I constantly explored everything resulting in a lot of great experiences, some painful ones and a few broken bones. Inside activities were ofcourse less dangerous, but filled with equally great experiences nevertheless.

One of the main facilitators was a huge encyclopaedia my parents bought. When I came across anything I didn’t understand I would look it up in those books and I quickly became fast at finding the answers.

However, the faster I became the more time I spent with those books. Why? Because every time I had found the written answer, one of the adjacent (but otherwise unrelated) entry would grab my attention. This in turn would pose new questions with new answers to be found and again new seemingly random entries.

I learned a lot of things in random order.

The web is one big encyclopaedia, but search engines, with their missile precise accuracy has cultivated an environment where the random adjacent knowledge and content has been lost.

There are some traces of it here and there: “Did you know?” panels, buttons taking you to random content and web rings (do web rings still exists?).

But are any of these truly random? I don’t think they are as they always appear in some form of context to what you are reading.

Should the web have random content at all? Is there too much? And is there a danger in the sheer amount of inappropriate content?

I don’t know, but maybe it would remove some of the clinical aura of flawlessness the we all too often have and make it more tangible, more wild in a nature-sense and more human.

Here’s an idea…

When you’ve finished reading this, choose a random word (maybe just point somewhere in an encyclopaedia), search for it on Twitter and follow whoever has mentioned this word and inject some random content into your, let’s be honest, predicable Twitter stream.