Unexpected usage no. 6: Reading and debate

Pierre-Carl Langlais has a PhD in information and communication science and is working with OpenEdition Lab on the unexpected reader detector. Studying OpenEdition’s statistics, he discovered several enlightening cases of how content on the platform has been read and reappropriated, which we are sharing here.

If you would like to tell us about other cases, please contact us at lab@openedition.org

The unexpected reader is not always content with simply reading. A publication can spark an intense conversation in the comments section, on social media and in other publishing spaces. An article from the research blog Recipes (https://recipes.hypotheses.org/8385), initially published in September 2016, was featured on the social news site Hacker News in January 2017 and discussed in… 197 comments.

The article was perhaps spotted because it had an intriguing title: “Were early modern people perpetually drunk?” (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13535868). Yet the conversation extended well beyond this original theme, with the participants sharing related information, particularly about other historical periods. This back and forth between the article and these various spin-offs resulted in significant traffic, comparable to the typical figures for a publication in the national press: 3000 single visitors from 31 January onwards, increasing to 13,000 by 1 February.


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