In his “Lecture on Ethics”, Wittgenstein writes that the good way can only be conceived within the context of its goal. The direction Wittgenstein gives is solid – good is what works, what serves a certain purpose.
Leveraging this Wittgenstein’s proposition, I argue that the good text on the Web is the connected text. And by good I mean serving its ultimate purpose reaching out to a reader.
There are many ways a text can become connected. Here I will outline the two fundamental ones I see as the sine qua non for a good text on the Web. The first connection is through the pleasure (and rhetorical power) of text and the second – through the technology of Linked Data.
To unpack this a little bit, let’s look at these two separately.
On one hand, how can a text be (any) good if you cannot find it.
Given the continuously evolving and maturing practices and technologies related to text and communication happening on the Web, finding gets tightly tied to machine-readability and data interoperability. And this is where the talk about findability cannot but include Linked Data and its current use in manipulating texts – from researching and writing them to publishing, organizing and retrieving them.
On the other, what is a text without the human relationships it builds, the things beyond the data and document links?
Dialogues, our most efficient and hard to maintain tool for shared understanding (times more powerful than any tool for sense-making), held and nurtured on the Web, become boundless spaces where we allow for points of view to converge and codes of understanding to align. In the realm of digital, inevitably permeated by old analog practices and enriched by newly emerged ways of cognitive behaviour, human connections are myriads of ways more valuable than machine-readable links. The only caveat here is not to fall into a false dichotomy of either us or the machines. It is, as it has always been with our “machinery”, a question of striking the right balance. And when it comes to text, I see it as a matter of equilibrium between data and dialogues.
In other words, it is the dynamics of human connection and machine connection each engaging in a rhythmic session, constantly negotiating roles as followers and leaders and always changing partners*.In other words, it is the dynamics of human connection and machine connection each engaging in a rhythmic session, constantly negotiating roles as followers and leaders and always changing partners*. Click To Tweet
This was an excerpt (a third draft :)) of an essay called Linked Data and Good Text, part of my book The Brave New Text.
* Changing partners: