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the Architxt's Journal

24 Jun '09 | New Media Thoughts

A renaissance for bibliographies

No one likes bibliographies. For writers, it’s the final, tedious step before completion of a piece. Readers ignore them altogether.

Online there are no bibliographies. We use links instead. However, I think there is a case for using them as an expanded function that goes beyond providing reference facts and acknowledgements.

Articles online aren’t so much different from the printed versions. This is also due to publisher’s clever use of resources to re-propose content in different formats. But apart from complementing content with links, commenting and the occasional widget there is little difference between what is published online and on paper.

Telling the story behind the story

This does not need to be the case as online, given the very nature of the medium, gives us the opportunity to tell the stories behind the story. For every polished article there are all sorts of scraps of information that originally provided the author with inspiration and material. This, along with the author’s own thinking and emotion contributes to the messy process of articulating an article.

So why not provide a bibliography of all the bits of information, thoughts and emotions that helped shape it? These could be inter-linked web pages, images, social network connections, twitters, statistical facts, video clips, emoticons, ecc… presented over some kind of timeline narrating giving the article a lot more context. Sharing and linking of these elements would provide an alternative route to navigate articles across a website.

Capturing inspiration

For this to work there would have to be some kind of software and / or gadget to allow authors to capture their inspiration. But the extra effort would mean creating additional content that could be, dare I say, monetised on. Could such bibliographies be what publishers charge for after offering the article for free?

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