Wednesday, January 7, 2009

More details please

Whether reading a book, a blog, or the newspaper I find writers assume the reader has a given set of skills or knowledge on the topic being read. Newspapers are typically written for an easy read, but in many cases the article assumes I know something about the area or the topic. If you dive right in you may get lost not knowing who Joshua Chamberlain is and how he is associated with GETT. If you know what GETT means you might know Chamberlain. I was taught to define my acroynms when I first use them. I deliberately did not do that here to help me with my point.

Whether it be a casual read or a technical read I like it when the author spells out the acryonm, summarizes the situation and tell us who the players really are--not just a name. Have you performed a web search on Chamberlain yet?

See how well I do here on the next paragraph!!

I read with interest this week about David BeBee and Mathew McCarthy, two photojournalists for the Kitchener Record, who have started a blog called "A Year on the Grand". I asked them (they are looking for feedback and ideas) if they were going to cover the Grand River from source to mouth. They both individually replied with yes. I also suggested that they geo-tag each blog entry so the reader knows exactly where the image on the Grand River was taken. It is this sort of information that extends the information and helps to provide context for the reader.

One more example. For Christmas, my wife gave me a video entitled Gettysburg and Stephen W. Sear's book, not associated with the video, but with the same title. After watching part of the video I decided to get out the book. Though I was following the story and drama of the video I failed to pay much attention to the names and places being mentioned. I am no historian and by no means do I know much about the battle of Gettysburg. Oddly, I was able to follow along in the book with the video. I was able to get officer profiles, further battle information, and maps, all giving me reference and context to the video.

BTW, in the video Jeff Daniels played Lieutenant Colonel Joshua Chamberlain and GETT is the acronym for Gettysburg National Military Park (US National Park Service). See, don't you hate it when the writer does not tell you this stuff up front.

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