Repurposing of content

[Schematic view of the cycle of computer-aided communication]

The large circle in the diagram represents human communication with the Web as an intermediary: somebody has an idea (at the top); he represents it in a machine-readable way and enters it into the Web (the red part); the Web transports it and displays it to somebody; that somebody interprets what he sees (at the bottom) and may in turn become the originator of new ideas.

There are various smaller circles in the diagram, that each represent modifications of the information, hopefully enhancements, but possibly degradations. The top circle, reflection, is a process under the control of the author; the bottom circle, different views, is controlled by the reader; but the circles in between can be done by either of them, by other people, or automatically by programs such as Web spiders.

It is these smaller circles that represent the extra value that the Web can bring to human communication. But for them to work well, the original representation has to be suitable for manipulation by software.

The collective name for the manipulations done in these smaller circles is repurposing, i.e., the adaptation of some piece of data for a new purpose.