Things Here are Precisely Organized
- Bird’s Eye View prioritizes organization, navigation and efficient information processing.
- The entire site is an advertising-free, clutter-free space.
- Content is structured in a way to give you a quick sense for the scope of a topic.
- Typical articles and blogs are in essay format. Here, in contrast, you have the freedom to jump into a topic wherever you wish.
Throughout the site, you’ll find practical tools and considerations, such as:
- Overview / Summary
- Why It Matters
- What You Can Do
- Key Resources
Addressing the Weaknesses of Common Formats
Much of the written information on the web continues to be presented in the formats first taught in American schools and colleges in the 20th century. These traditional formats that ruled the world of paper have simply been moved to the online environment. Media pieces — whether “news” or opinion — and the majority of blogs continue to use the following formats for the majority of written pieces:
- A “journalistic article” means it is written using the “inverted pyramid” format which simply means that information is presented in descending “importance,” with the author’s main point (the “lede”) presented first.
- The lede is the subject of great concern to media publishers who use this style, and they spend considerable effort in finding ways to “hook” the reader.
- The lede is followed by details that cover the “5 Ws” (who, what, when, where, why).
- Some of the details may or may not provide context or perspective, but there is no attempt to create a comprehensive narrative.
- Publishing the article quickly is the priority as opposed to providing context and meaning.
- This style is said to have been developed in the Civil War era and is used to deliver timely news.
- An obvious weakness of this style is a lack of context and narrative.
Essays / Narratives
- Aside from the inverted pyramid journalistic article, most other written pieces are essays, meaning they present an argument in the form of a narrative — simply meaning that information is connected to make a story.
- The most common form is the old school standby: introduction → thesis statement (the author’s claim, her point of view) → body → conclusion.
- An essay presents a point of view (POV) and offers evidence to support it.
- Authors of media outlets often combine the inverted pyramid and a narrative into the “hourglass” format, beginning with the inverted pyramid and then following that with a narrative.
- While providing information via a narrative can have many benefits, an inherent weakness stems from the fact that the reader is forced to view the information through the lens of the author. The POV is developed (sometimes very effectively, sometimes not) using the tools of narrative such as organization and transitions. As a result, the reader must follow along, taking in the information based on the order it is presented and the POV it is trying to present. Basic information-gathering is not made easy.
- A few additional weaknesses of the essay format being carried over into an online environment are related to the lost potential of not taking advantage of an online platform: with the typical essay, you can’t easily get a sense for the article’s scope nor can you “jump-to” sections quickly and focus in on the part you are most interested in right now.
And, of course, we are all inundated with an unceasing onslaught of brief comments via social media, the prolific “sharing” of other pieces, and brief statements pasted onto an image to convey a feeling to go with the statement.
- A primary weakness of these formats is lack of supporting information and context.
- In addition, there is usually little transparency and thus, the inherent bias and sources are unknown to the reader.
In contrast to these more common formats, Bird’s Eye View prioritizes organization, navigation and efficient information processing.
If you’re researching a non-mainstream subject and are having difficulty finding what you need, or you wish that something was presented in a different way, please send your thoughts and we’ll try to help.