Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Old-Fashioned Tables of Contents--Still Needed?

I am sure that in writing this I am going to look very old-fashioned and there will be plenty of people who will say that this is wrong, but I still like tables of contents, indexes, abstracts and other simple "trails" that guide me through the complex maze of information.

Although there are many wonderful aspects to tags, tag clouds, folksonomies, etc. that provide connections across and between ideas, blogs, knowledge, these tools work for serendipity and for readers who are immersed in the topic, but they are often too complex and diffuse for me as a novice coming to the conversation for the first time. I am always looking for a link on someone's blog that says, "Here is a good place to start that provides you with a brief summary of what I write about, the key concepts that are typical of my blog and some of the core ideas, principles, or contributions that you can expect if you read my work."

Of course, this would be updated over time and become more complex, but too often in my mind, the reader is thrust into the middle of a conversation that may be interesting and lead to new insights, but is hard to follow. Now maybe this is just laziness on my part, but I think it is just a good structure, effective presentation and good writing and good editing.

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