Distributed columns

I have just finished reading an article about the limits of Google’s limitless business model. I got to the bottom of the first page and clicked on “Please continue reading part two”. Suddenly I was taken to a different site – there appeared to be continuity with what I had just read so I continued reading. Same thing as before: I got to the bottom of the page and clicked on “continue reading”. Bang! Different site again! At first I was confused but then at the bottom of the final page was this little snippet:

[This is an experimental publishing format, a distributed column across different web sites. The first part is here. The second part is here. The first part leads you through all three sections.]

Oh. The article really was distributed across several web sites! First of all, why? Could it be they did this so that by having different parts of the article on different websites the reader is exposed to advertisements from both sites?

My initial impression is that it doesn’t work; because it is an unfamiliar way of reading a multi-page article spread I wasn’t sure if I was actually reading the same article. The navigation is broken too. If I do a search on Google for example and I end up on page two of the article there is no way to get to page one from page two – this because there are only links to each part of the article on page one.

It will be interesting to see what other publishing formats these media companies come up with in the future. Then again, if they are anything like the distributed method I have just mentioned, maybe it won’t be that interesting after all.

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