This post is really a guide for a conversation Brad Kozlek and I are having with colleagues in our Consulting and Support Services group. The point of the meeting is to open new conversations related to the role of the centrally supported and managed personal webspace. Lots of what is here is being thrown out as conversation starters and not as an intended direction. It does represent a lot of the thinking I’ve been doing related to not the real time web we are coming to expect via new definitions, but more in the context of providing instant publishing options that are one button simple.
The One Button Web
While Anil Dash has a very interesting case for the Push Button Web, I am thinking about our ability to generate a One Button Web (OBW) here at PSU and encouraging thinking like this in education in general. I am going to define the OBW in our environment as the ability to publish content to the PSU webspace with little more than an access account, an active personal space, a blog, and the press of a button. With the bookmarklet approach built into the Blogs at Penn State we are so close. I think it is of critical importance that we empower personal publishing in as simple a way as possible.
When people want to share content across the web they do so with single clicks into social networks. The ubiqitous “share on facebook” links we see are changing behavior at an amazing rate. If you spend time in facebook or connected to twitter you have surely seen the incredible amounts of links, stories, movies, etc being shared within (and outside) the network. The people doing this aren’t copy and pasting content, they are pressing buttons.
This behavior is important to understand. I’m not sure if this metaphor works, but we no longer tune our televisions to specific stations — we press a button to get the desired results. In a lot of ways I think the ability to post new/original content as well as reposting content needs to follow that path. The personal higher education web has to get simpler and we should be thinking about how we empower that movement. The Blogs at Penn State sit on top of a powerful infrastructure that is centrally managed. Accepting the realities of the OBW is a critical next step in moving the potential of personal content management and portfolios in our spaces forward.
Our audiences should be using their own spaces to share into the social networks — and I believe they will if we help them understand it. Nearly all of my content originates in one of my blogs and it sends it to Twitter and Twitter sends it to Facebook. That is critical because those other guys don’t like to give my content back. If we make our spaces as easy as those other guys we have a huge advantage … we like to give ownership and empowerment to our users — we give their stuff back.
Everything is Miscellaneous
This leads me to another thought … our audiences (by and large) no longer browse directory structures. They simply publish content into giant stores that they find again via structured or unstructured searches, through profiles, or in other similar user interface driven approaches that completely ignore where an asset is living. As an example, when a student uploads a picture to facebook they do it via a simple one button approach and they really don’t care where it lives. They don’t care because they don’t need to. They are working to share that asset and it is tied to a greater representation of who they are, not based on a directory structure. They don’t browse the directories to get the asset back — at most they drag it out of the browser to the desktop, at the least they just leave it there. Why should we encourage them to care?
I think the answer within our environment is to let MoveableType be the gateway to our own implementation of the OBW. They log in via WebAccess to their dashboards to do all the same things — share writing, upload files, and the like. Let the environment manage it. They don’t care about directories and I think that is fine. I’m not saying we take away directory level access … I am saying we no longer focus on it. Just a thought.
The rest of this post is really just a bunch of links as jumping off points for our discussion this afternoon … most of it makes little sense outside the context of the face to face meeting. I am eager to hear reactions to the stuff above though!
Things to Discuss