Group Outlines, from Bits to Bytes

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The first thing you learn when you’re taught how to write an essay, is to start from an outline. Blogs as they are now might seem so unstructured that’s it’s difficult to make sense of them, especially for people used to more linear forms of expression. In my opinion linear people should start learning to think in hypertext mode, and hypertext writers could fill in the remaining intellectual gap by structuring their group contributions a little more.I gave OPML a try in order to express some thoughts on P2P. Now the guys at UserLand are working on adding permissions on OPML docs among several people. Look at the flow of thoughts from blog to blog, they mainly move at the most granular level, where it’s hard to see the big picture. If we start sharing outlines, we’ll be easier to grasp for newcomers, giving them a structure and context to bootstrap with.

By doing so we will also move our group thinking in a more consistent way. When I read long forum discussions, I’m often frustrated by circular thinking that is not necessarily going anywhere. If we discuss and collaborate through shared outlines, we’ll get things moving forward faster. While it’s fun to witness the growth and usage of an idea bit (see for instance the BlogHop rating system hop from blog to blog), shared outlines will allow us to structure and accelerate the spreading of memes. A step towards building our collective superbrain?

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