Switching Context

I’ve been following Jon Udell’s postings about bookmarklets, libraries and ISBN numbers – not because I particularly understood the technology or what he was up to but because I thought he might be onto something that will help me out with plans for delivering personalised government content using a web service. I haven’t cracked it yet, but I’m getting closer.

In Jon’s latest article for Infoworld he makes a little leap from one place to another for why he decided to build this app, ” … but [the] information [I wanted] didn’t appear in the right context. To switch from Amazon or All Consuming to the library’s site for a requery doesn’t take much effort. Once we establish a context, though, we are loath to abandon it. The question became how to avoid that context switch.” (italics mine).

Here in a couple of sentences is the essence of the argument for reducing the website count in government – why make people discover other sites if they can get what they need from one; why force them to learn new user interfaces, deal with new designs, new editorial styles and new departmental vocabularies if they don’t have to. Learning one context is hard enough, learning tens or hundreds to deal with government shouldn’t even be on the agenda.

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