I think part of the issue we run into is that the human language being used to describe this is specifically the language of print layouts like newspapers or magazines. That language was far more known back in the late 90's early 00's but more and more developers are going to be seeing this through web-first eyes.
Your explanations are spot-on though. Even with aside, while we might see it as vague in its contents, you nailed the purpose.
Thanks! And yeah, I agree, the farther we get from the days of mostly-print-media, the less obvious the metaphors become.
I also think with <aside> specifically there are sort of two competing metaphors: the "sidebar" layout element, and the semantic "aside", for tangential info. These are really two very different things, but the spec currently allows for both, which is confusing. As I understand it from some googling, the spec initially only allowed for the semantic usage, and did not recommend using <aside> for sidebars with content unrelated to the main content, like navigation links, etc. But the spec was later amended because of common confusion and the perceived need for a sidebar element to explicitly allow both usages. I'm unsure how I feel about that move.
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