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3 November 2003 / erikduval

TechLearn (1)

Am at TechLearn: first session I’m doing is Wayne’s “Content: The Next Big Thing is Really, Really Small! “. First surprise? Most of the people in the audience had never heard Wayne talk!

Wayne made many points that I believe to be extremely important. The essence, in my view, is that “documents must die” (my phrase, don’t bother Wayne if you disagree): we must have document components managed as such, and not burried in documents. How small then should these pieces be. Wayne mentioned two points:
– the piece should stand on itself
– it should be useless on its own.
Too small is not useful either: we can represent every text by breaking it into letters, but that is probably not that relevant. Words are maybe still too small (though Wayne made the point that you can now search on words in Amazon), but phrases are probably the right level of granularity, as are video clips, etc.

One illustration from the music world of the trend towards smaller is how we now buy songs rather than albums. As it turns out, parts of songs are being reused as well: think about beats, think about sampling, …

Another illustration – one we’re working on in my research unit: powerpoint, where slides are a suitable unit of reuse. Tools like Enfish allow you to search for the slide (or the email, etc.) that is relevant at that moment: no folder nased organisation or unique names for files required! (See also: David Gelernter.)

One of the effects of this evolution is that it will enable mass contribution (prosumers – Alvin Toffler), as we are all producing content every day.

David Sanchez, the “sr. manager of elearning content” confirmed towards the end of the session that they are doing this sort of personalization now at Autodesk. A simple example: the metric units can be customized, based on the profile of the end user…

All in all, this session emphasized one of the main challenges to realise the “share and reuse” vision.

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