WTF is a “cultural context link”?

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Since the readership of the Offbeat Empire is hugely varied and diverse, AND we do a lot of writing about corners of culture that folks may never have heard of, my editors try to do this thing that I call “cultural context linking.” In other words, the first time we mention any sort of cultural concept that we think some of our readers might be unfamiliar with, we link it to a website that can give readers a context of just what we’re talking about.

This can include stuff like:

It feels like a really important thing to do, not just for our international readers who are like, “No seriously, wtf is Reading Rainbow?” but even for our domestic readers who just A) don’t like feeling like they’re on the outside of an in-joke or B) love learning about new things. The goal in each of these cases is to ensure that as many readers as possible can relate to the material, and that readers who are curious about the cultural reference can disappear down a little internet rabbit hole and go learn about something new.

I totally get that inside jokes and winky-winky cultural references that only certain people get can be REALLY fun, but I think encouraging readers to get up to their elbows in some new cultural contexts is TWICE as much fun.

Comments on WTF is a “cultural context link”?

  1. YES! I love that you do this! It saves me so much time since I always get this overpowering need to know wtf people are talking about.

  2. Ariel, THANK YOU for making my day with Reading Rainbow. If I have children, they will grow up watching some seriously old-school television programs.

    Additionally, thank you for the cultural context links, because I enjoy feeling “in” on things, but I like learning new cultural references even more. (It may be because my parents kept me buried under a rock as a child — I’m *still* making up for that.)

    • Reading Rainbow has the best theme song of any children’s show EVER, I think.

      • 100% YES!

        I love the linking… I’ve learned a lot about some really cool subcultures that I wouldn’t have otherwise known about. Last Thanksgiving, I was the only person who could explain Steampunk to my very suburban in-laws. Thanks, Offbeat Empire! 🙂

  3. Seriously, I LOVE the links. It’s one of my favorite things about the Empire. Even if I’m completely familiar with a concept, I STILL click. (I’m a Wikipedia spelunker. Start at “MTV”, end up at “John Locke”.)
    And honestly, I think it’s good for the comment roll. If you and your readers are replying to someone’s query about an aside, off-shoot reference, they’re not participating in the bigger discussion. Nevermind the mother fskin’ boat I’m on, I just wanted you to look at the picture!

  4. I think it’s really important to loop people in. It makes an article/blog post easier to follow, and makes a reader feel more important when they know what all the references are. Saves people time, and doesn’t take much more effort for the poster. I know I appreciate it!

    I agree with you Ariel on the theme song! Have you seen this? I just love it.

    Jim Morrison and the Doors cover Reading Rainbow

  5. ahhhhhhh is it sad that I follow Levar Burton on twitter…not just cause of Star Trek! dude, hez a legacy! HAHAAHAH 🙂

    There was once an ART SHOW too, but i dont’ recall the name of it…hmmmm. I’ll have to find it.

  6. THIS is how I found out about the ‘I’m on a boat thing’ and there went 6 hours of listening to lonely island tunes. Love them now, so thanks!

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