About The Metacontent Project

Metacontent is content about content. So rather than being the content itself, it's something that describes or amplifies the content. For example, for a fiction title it might be a plot synopsis, an analysis of how the work stands as an example of its genre, or a piece of general literary criticism; for a philosophy title it might be a condensation of main points or how the philosophy reflects or changed the society of its time. For an author's complete works it might describe the author's style, influences, or methodology.

Internet Gold/Internet Dross

If you're going to have freedom of the press, it means that fools and liars get to publish whatever they want (pretty much). The Internet is the largest printing press-cum-village square bulletin board ever devised. The problem of information availability has largely been superceded by information reliability.

I tried to find the most reliable sites from which to gather metacontent links. Some I just threw away because the information was obviously inaccurate, badly written, or contained such obvious slants that they were beyond usefulness.

But some I tended to accept almost without question: The Victorian Web, The Literary Encyclopedia, and Stanford University's Plato Project all have information you can pretty much count on. Some have political slants, but the credibility of the writers tends to be high and the information is reliable within the sites' purview: Radical Philosophy and the Marxist Internet Archives come to mind. Some can be quirky but useful: the student guides such as Cliff's Notes, Gradesaver, and Spark Notes are examples. And some can be either absolutely fantastic or absolutely awful, so I REALLY needed to pay attention when I selected articles to link to from these sites: The prime example here is Wikipedia. I used other sites as well, but these are the ones I went to first.

I avoided links to the plot summaries and criticisms associated with For Sale books on bookselling sites. It's not that these links had bad content – sometimes the content was great! But my fear is that when the book is sold the entries would disappear from the net.

ModernLib's Priorities

Here in order of priority ("1" being the highest) are the criteria used to determine what document to link to:

  1. Apparent permanence on the Web
  2. Accuracy
  3. Uniqueness
  4. Completeness
  5. Ancillary information
  6. Illustrations
  7. Fast loads
  8. No or limited advertising banners, pop-ups, or animations

Got a Better one?

I couldn't find metacontent for some titles, and I need better choices for some of the links already made. If you know of a better metacontent link than the one ModernLib is currently using—that is, one that uses more of the items in the Priorities list in a better way— or if you know of a link to metacontent for a title that has no link now, please let me know.

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