Simplifying today’s information overload with topic pages

22 Feb

In today’s world, it is news overload. My phone constantly buzzes giving me new notifications. I’m constantly checking email, my social networks and my google reader to stay up to date. But, then add in daily activities, school work, socializing and so on and I can barely keep up with life let alone the day’s headlines. I know I am a journalism student, so I do try my best to stay informed. There is just so much information. Topic pages are an innovation, making new and old information on one specific topic readily available to readers. Instead of having to search all over the internet for every aspect pertaining to one topic, topic pages give it to you all at once. Why did no one think of this sooner? In this crazy information age, it simplifies the news overload and makes news easier to process.

While this is a relatively new practice, many sites have started creating topic pages and seen success. According to a post on the Content Strategies Blog, the New York Times is where topic pages began, and it has some of the best. Some say topic pages are similar to the concept of Wikipedia. The main idea is to present readers with comprehensive information, as well as context. Topic pages can and should include a summary, time line, important articles, multimedia and a list of related topics. Providing all of these resources in one space makes it much more convenient for the reader to attain knowledge on the topic. It provides a way for readers to catch up on past information they missed and also know what’s currently happening in regard to a certain topic.

Topic pages are beneficial in the fact that they have a longer shelf life than typical news stories and blasts. Since topic pages are made to be fully comprehensive, they will be a resource for readers for a long time. Topic pages are more easily searchable through search engines, so they will continue to pop up. Topic pages aren’t as timely as breaking news stories because they look at the big picture.

The idea really hit home when I thought about it like this. Think years ahead to some student who hears people talking about the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He wasn’t alive for them. He doesn’t know as much as other people who were. But, he is upset in hearing about the terrible event and wants to know more. Well, lucky for him he lives in the information age where topic pages exist. He could simply go to the New York Times topic page, the Reckoning, and get an expansive view. He could learn about the events leading to the attacks, the actual day, and even the aftermath. Everything he could want to know is there. Instead of scouring search engines for hours trying to sort through everything, he has all of the answers to his questions tied up in a neat little package.

To me this is a priceless resource. It could help people with school projects, research, creating arguments, studying, writing or simply just being informed. For example, I am interested in ballet but only recently. I have developed this intense passion for the art, and I am particularly fascinated with the New York City Ballet. I want to educate myself to deepen my appreciation. Instead of simply going to the New York City Ballet’s website and poking around, I can instead go to the New York Times’ topic page on the New York City Ballet. This instantly gives me so much more information right at my fingertips. I can see highlights from the archives, articles, the list of dancers, the company’s history and even videos. It would take me so much longer to research that all on my own.

I’m glad someone thought of topic pages. As a journalist and person, I know this will simplify my life. Topic pages bring a sense of order to an online world that can sometimes seem like chaos.

Here is my Delicious bookmark. Journalists could use this tool to sort through and keep up with online information. Delicious is a tool that could help weed through all of the irrelevant information and just keep track of what they want to know about. Then, if they have to write a story on a specific topic and need to do more background or general research, they could simply search in their Delicious. This would save journalists a lot of time when working on stories.

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One Response to “Simplifying today’s information overload with topic pages”

  1. Ronald R. Rodgers February 22, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

    Well done!
    Here is my Delicious bookmark. THIS IS NOT TAKING ME TO YOUR BOOK MARKS – I GET A 404

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