The discovery metadata field

The internet would be a really interesting place if every article that was shared automatically had a “via link.” Ok, so the internet is already interesting. But what makes the internet such a great place is its connectivity. Everything is linked together.

We can easily share a link to an article. So many links all over the place. But how did each person discover their link in the first place?

Where are people discovering things to share?

For instance; the Executive editorial director of Encyclopedia Britannica, J.E. Luebering, tweeted a link to a fascinating quote from an interview with Jukhee Kwon.

Words have a mysterious quality to express and when you transcend the linearity, you can communicate mysterious things

I’m totally curious how Luebering found this interview.

We have all these little links and nuggets shared across the web. But how were they discovered? For awhile I was keeping track of how I discovered books.

Also, when I save an article in my Evernote, I often tag the article with the person who initially shared it online.

Evernote from tags

However, this source information is stored in my own private Evernote. What if this piece of metadata was embedded into every single tweet? That would be awesome.

We already kinda have that the sourcing functionality in Twitter with the retweet. When a link isn’t retweeted, people can use the text “via ________”. But it seems most people don’t really include the “via” anymore. It takes too much work to put “via _____” in the tweet.

Imagine if this via information wasn’t manual. It just simply happened somehow on your computer. Did you find that article via an email newsletter? A tweet? Someone on Facebook? A Google search? A regular visit to a website?

To make this metadata happen, there would have to be too much tracking of your online behavior. In most cases people don’t want you to know their sources of discovery. But then we are losing out on so much on the trails of exploration. It’s like we are kicking over the paths of content discovery.

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3 thoughts on “The discovery metadata field”

  1. I’ve been fascinated with this idea of vias, hat tips, and linking credit (a la the defunct Curator’s Code) just like Jeremy Cherfas. I have a custom field in my site for collecting these details sometimes, but I should get around to automating it and showing it on my pages rather than doing it manually.

    Links like these seem like throwaways, but they can have a huge amount of value in aggregate. As an example, if I provided the source of how I found this article, then it’s likely that my friend Matt would then be able to see a potential treasure trove of information about the exact same topic which he’s sure to have a lot of interest in as well.

    One of the things I love about webmentions is that these sorts of links to give credit could be used to create bi-directional links between sites as well. I’m half-tempted to start using custom experimental microformats classes on these links so that when the idea takes off that people could potentially display them in their comments sections as such instead of just vanilla “mentions”. This could be useful for sites that serve as inspiration in much the same way that journalistic outlets might display reads (versus bookmarks, likes, or reposts) or podcasts could display listens. Just imagine the power that displaying webmentions on wikis could have for their editors to later update pages or readers might have to delve into further resources that mention and link to those pages, especially when the content on those linked pages extends the ideas?

    Tim Berners-Lee’s original proposal for hypertext was rejected because it didn’t bake bi-directional links into the web (c.f. Webstock ‘18: Jeremy Keith – Taking Back The Web at 13:39 into the video). Webmentions seems to be a simple way of ensconcing them after-the-fact, but in a way that makes them more resilient as well as update-able and even delete-able  by either side.

    Of course now I come to wonder just how it was that Jeremy Cherfas finds such a deep link on Matt’s site from over a year ago? 😉

    ↬ Jeremy Cherfas’ update on the IndieWeb wiki ᔥ the IndieWeb-meta chat

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