The “Wikithrall” effect

Wiki-thrall is a term my sister and I came up with for those times when you go on wikipedia to look for one thing, and then an hour later you are still there, sometimes not even on a subject anywhere related to your original topic.  Once such case, I was researching the bird “Wren” because I decided to call the species that were to be the big bads in my Stargate Atlantis fanfic that and wanted to see if there was anything of the actual animal that might be good to use.  At least I started there.  Somehow by the end of the day I landed on the history of Pepsi.  Still not sure how I got there.

Sometimes its just by clicking links on the page. This happens alot when I’m looking up people.  You see a highlighted association, so you check that person out.  And suddenly you are reading about a Rock star who once wrote a song about a cousin of a friend of a cousin of the original person you were researching.

I love learning, so its not necessarily a bad thing.  However I do think sometimes it hinders when you are actually doing research with a purpose, like when I was doing research for a paper on German artist Anselm Kiefer.   I was doing topic research on Norse mythology, for which his painting was based, and ended up learning about Norse deities that were not even involved with the story at hand.  Of course it probably didn’t help that Thor had just come out on DVD at the time so I was intrigued by the differences between the comics and the actual mythology.

Today I was trying to show my father an article on the actor Armie Hammer, who is in a movie I liked and made my father watch last night, The Man From Uncle.  However I ended up on the page of his Great-Grandfather which lead to learning some interesting history.

Its not a good example of Wikithrall, but it reminded me of that, and I started wondering if other people had names for it, or what interesting paths led them to new information.

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