Product & Startup Builder

The loss of context and original intent

Added on by Chris Saad.

As part of the development process for Touchstone Ash and I take much needed breaks by watching the best of television entertainment. And without a doubt, one of the best TV shows ever made is the West Wing.

This show demonstrates the wonder that occurs when the right intentions meet the right circumstances and get executed by the right balance of technical and creative genius.

I am going to go into spoiler territory here (season 7 episodes) to discuss how the West Wing relates to RSS/Syndication of content (you have been warned).

As those of you watching know, a number of key things have occurred in the West Wing over the years (as you would expect). Two specifically relevant for this post are:

  1. Aaron Sorkin (the genius creator) left/was fired in season 3.

  2. In the latest episode - as of posting - a long running unrequited love (in the form of the Josh and Donna relationship) was finally consummated.

The scenes were strange to watch because they didn't quite happen as I had expected. But it led me to wonder... did they happen as the original creator had envisaged?

This is a question that has occurred to me from time to time because it also relates to loss of control when a company or project gets too big for the original creators to reasonably maintain control of all the moving parts.

By extension it makes you wonder... how is it possible to maintain a creators/publishers/authors intent when they loose control of their content (perhaps when they are no longer involved in the project).

Extrapolating further, is it possible to maintain the full meaning of a piece of content when it becomes divorced from its container (as RSS does).

Do we really understand the implications of an article when it has been broken apart from most of its 'neighbors' and divorced of the packaging and, unless we pay close attention, from our awareness of the Author's bias and perspective?

Does RSS begin to dilute the value of content because the author looses a measure of control and the reader looses a measure of perspective?

Can consumption tools help bring that context back by digging up related articles and information and putting it in the margins? Is this sort of context better or worse than having seen the content in the original container?