The Who Cares Test
You already have a content collection. Turn it into a store.
Chances are, the reasons why you found, kept, and then re-use that content for yourself include most, if not all, of the following:
- Original ideas
As collectors, some of us are pretty focused on re-presenting what we’ve collected. We know we have an audience or even several audiences, and when we collect content we’re already thinking about an audience.
Whether your audience is Social, Professional, or Private, your collection is valuable because you have personalized your decisions about what to keep, right from the beginning. The question is, when you want to re-use the content later, will re-presenting the content show that your earlier decisions were good ones?
When you think of how many different things you do with that content — by selecting, retrieving and re-presenting it — you can see that you’re practically publishing to yourself and others. We’ve already learned to do that routinely through sharing content at work and through social apps. Additionally, we just like to revisit things that hold special interest for us to read, view or hear. In fact, even the method of sharing is becoming pretty much the same for private, social and work use.
Interestingly, those uses have at least one other thing in common: their demand is a kind that usually can be satisfied with material made new for the moment, as long as the audience can wait for it. So what?
Well, waiting is less and less tolerated. We’ll find that the difficulty of re-creating something while they wait may be large or small, but the greater the difficulty, the more likely we are to re-search for it instead. We’ll try to go find something suitable that we expect already exists. And when we find it, we’ll deliver it to the audience.
That’s where our personal collection comes in. The more we’ve thought ahead about who the audience might be, the more likely we are to selectively store what we want to depend on at that later point when we need to “re-present” something. Our selective storing means that we can do less researching to get an item that we already know is high-quality.
In fact, except for risking the qualty, the best way that we could further decrease our own research burden is to let the audience research our collection themselves.
So, the last thing we want is a personal collection that is difficult to research!
Our new service, eXie, is designed for people who know that they want to rely on their own content collection to support valuable sharing of their content with their audience.
eXie is focussed on preventing and repairing the three main conditions that make collections difficult to research. These conditions occur and co-exist independently of each other. What’s worse, in fact, is how one problem easily leads to the next:
– too much content is kept speculatively or beyond usefulness
– items are stored out of context
– content organization is difficult to relate to current demand
– things get duplicated or recreated unnecessarily
The way we see it…
There are many tools available that help to tackle the challenge of finding an item, based on its subject, version, and apparent relevance.
We know that search results are, essentially, just-in-time collections of content, activated by the user’s selection criteria.
We also know that most of the time, search results get handled in one of two ways: an acceptable item is found within them, used right away, and the search steps and results are discarded; or the results are pruned down to one item and saved somewhere.
Of course, the emphasis in search is actually in the reason why an item is currently needed. But search does not address the problem of keeping a collection organized. Instead, indexing does.
An index applies certain terms to a content item so that its association with a context or other item is explicit. This means that searching an index is a good way to get to a group of items that we expect all have some relevance in common. A term in the index becomes the key criterion of the content search.
However, an index can itself present two challenges. One is that it can be idiosyncratic; its terms may make not make sense in the same way to all observers. Another is that as a collection of terms, an index may not systematically include or exclude terms.
What we want is for the index to systematically represent the mentality of the audience. To make that representation most easily recognized and used by the audience, we give it a visual layout that shows the mentality as a system. The visual layout provides the index in the form of a frame of reference.
Open for business
The two most common types of layouts providing frames of reference are taxonomies and catalogs. For most content collectors, creating a catalog of the content is a great way to develop an organized view of the content based on the expected purposes of the content. And for these collectors, taxonomies show the way that the audience distinguishes and recognizes what it wants.
In short, to create the catalog, use terms that reflect the taxonomy. With the right taxonomy used to create a catalog, you can turn your content collection into a content store where your expected audience confidently shops for what it needs.