The Five-Minute Trainer: Why Use Frames?

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With eXie, you take a collection of content, organize the content into groups of ideas, and make the groups easy to see and find for ongoing later use.

The groupings show what contexts give importance to the variety of content.

Doing this with eXie can be easy because it relies on things we all already know how to do. But there are more basic and more advanced ways to do those things.

 

Most Basic:

If you have ever made an outline, you already have experience with taking a single subject and separating it into organized groupings of included relevant ideas.

And most likely, if you stored items in a set of folders in a cabinet or on your computer, your arrangement of folders looks pretty much like an outline.

Coming up with good, permanent “headings” or folder names is sometimes tricky, however. It’s not hard but it takes practice. Some of us are a lot better at it than others. We all know cases where the outline or the folder arrangement had become very inconsistent or had grown out of control.

 

Intermediate:

If you have made an index to a set of content, you have already chosen a group of key words that you associated to some of the content, to help expose how the content is relevant to certain other ideas. A “cat” might be indexed to the key words “pet”, “mammal”, and “deity”…

Today, many people do this with tagging and rely on their tags to help sort or group widely differing items of content that can have the same “importance” or “meaning” to the content user.

Indices and tags name a desired context of the content, regardless of what other grouping (like headings or folder names) may be used. Tagging is actually the practical way for most of us to create an index, but making good tags for other people is more difficult than you would expect. Tags tend to be personalized, and if they are instead very impersonal then they aren’t really needed because an index will already do the trick. Unfortunately, many people who use tags either don’t know the difference or just ignore the difference. Later this causes confusion for themselves and frustration for other people who want to use the content, if they find that the tags don’t mean what they appeared to mean. They feel like the index is unreliable.

 

Advanced:

If you have made a catalog of any group of items, you have already decided on how to distinguish the items by categories or types that make sense to someone who is trying to find a certain kind of thing. This is the same as having selection criteria or qualifications to determine where an item belongs relative to the other items in a collection.

The more specific and reliable the categorization must be, the more people need a taxonomy to provide consistent logic to the way things are classified.

The most advanced kind of content grouping follows a taxonomy that is appropriate for the target users of a catalog. This seems like it might be more complicated or difficult than less advanced kind of groupings. But it is not. What makes it “more advanced” is your familiarity with the knowledge and interests of the expected users. It is not practically harder to do.

 

Using eXie:

Using eXie encourages you to take the knowledge you already have about the content users, and create content groupings in a way that matches what they care about to how or why they typically care about it. By naming those two things, you can create a “frame of reference” that is easy to use and can be as general or specific as the user needs.

An eXie “frame” controls the logic that creates content groupings. As seen here, a grouping exists for any combination of the idea in a column and the idea in a row.

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The labels of the columns and rows tell the user how to identify the context of the items of content that are available.

Because all rows apply to all columns, the regularity and consistency of the organization is easier to see and it gives the use confidence in being able to use the entire collection of content. It also strongly guides the further addition of more content to the collection without risking disorganization.

Finally, this single technique of organization is usable for any different kinds of subject matter and any different kinds of content users. You can always provide several different frames of reference to the same single collection of content. Your familiarity with your expected content user will help you select subjects and “cover the subject area” confidently.

Once you have begun using this technique with eXie, it is likely to give you more ideas about how to expand and master your ways of showing what you have collected, why, and how to navigate the collection — without becoming disorganized.