Sunday, October 25, 2009

Staying "On Topic"

When I sit down on Sunday evenings to blog, I shuffle through the memorable events and images of the week. This week's image first came to my awareness on Wednesday of this week. Our family had closely been following a situation at my son's elementary school, because the incident occurred at his grade level. When my husband called to tell me the story had appeared on, I logged on to read it. While the article filled in some questions I had had about the incident (and raised others), what immediately struck me was the "contextual linking provided by Topix." Here is what the contextual linking led to:

Holy Comforter Episcopal School hosts festival.

Topix bills itself (at its website as, "turning passive news into active dialogue by giving people an easy-to-use publishing system with a built-in audience." Linking a story about a private school's festival with a public school's alarmingly serious and decidedly non-festive story regarding a student's possession of a firearm on campus can't be what the folks at the Democrat envisioned when choosing to use this particularly contextual linking program. I kept thinking someone would catch the misguided pairing and remove it, but as of Friday the two stories were still "contextually linked." When I checked tonight, the Holy Comforter story was gone in favor of a continuation of the Roberts story.

I was still struggling to tie all this together when Tenley came in to ask me to sync something on itunes (which involves the computer I am at to write my blog). After a nasty parenting moment when I grumbled about having to lose focus on my blog to help her, a cool turnaround happened when she asked me what I was blogging about and I discovered through our conversation the gist of why this pairing of "topics" bugged me so much:

The logic of the best algorithm in the world risks failure without someONE inspecting content.

Here is how she and I ended the conversation:

Does knowing that a student was expelled at Roberts for bringing a gun to school make you want to go to a festival at Holy Comforter? Will kids who attend the Holy Comforter festival now consider arming themselves?

Have you seen similar pairings of content that could have been saved by scrutiny by someONE? If so, please share them in the comments section!

1 comment:

Velva said...

Appears that someone was not paying attention to the detail when the links were created.