Simple Repositories

Say the word repository and watch any ed tech geek roll their eyes. Why? We’ve been there … and not just once, but over and over again. Structured places to put things by a large community is tricky and very complicated business … at least that’s what everyone tells me. I’ve honestly not seen a repository that really seems to work. I guess there are lots of reasons for that and if you asked one of us who has been involved in a repository project we’d rattle of a dozen or more reasons for you — people don’t want to share, meta data is hard, the environments are overkill, blah, blah, blah. I’m not saying they aren’t useful when you have very clearly defined goals and data. They get messy so quickly when you start to think about them in a general sense. With that in mind, I have an ultra simplistic thought that I want to throw out into the wild to see if I get a “you are crazy” style response.

For the past week or so a few of us in ETS have been taking part in a little experiment in multi-author activity blogging within the Blogs at Penn State to see if we could replicate the joy in sharing things quickly across the web into our own space. The idea is to do simple push button publishing, but instead of dumping it directly into Twitter or Facebook, we’d drop it into a common and simple blog right here in our own environment. We have been calling it, “Stuff” for no real reason. All it is a blog with a nice little push button bookmarklet that Brad Kozlek threw together for us. As you hit a site you highlight the text you want and press your “Stuff It” bookmarklet to post it. No different than the things lots of people do everyday with fb, tumblr, twitter, etc.


There are limitations, but they are easy to overcome. The first is that you have to ask to join and one of us needs to add you. We’ve already talked about how to overcome that … and it is easy. Comments are a little limiting in that there isn’t any layered social opportunity with them — no rating and threading is a problem we’ll also address.

These things aside, I see lots of potential. Here is the crazy idea — why not just launch a blog that has features like this as a repository? Have something to share, use the bookmarklet to post it quickly. There is plenty of meta data for the built in search to pull from — post title, body, tags, and categories would provide a great context for searches. In this scenario I am thinking it is 100% open with a CC attribution license on it so all content that goes in is sharable. If you wanted to provide something, just go and log in with your account once to add yourself as a member to the environment and you are good to go.

It gets even more interesting for another reason … not only could you contribute content to this blog/repository space directly, but using tag aggregation within Blogs at PSU you could contribute to the repository by posting at your own PSU blog using a shared tag. That way one could make decisions about how content flows into the space. The past week or so working with the Stuff space I am seeing an even more powerful role for our publishing platform — a platform that can actually host applications on top of it. Adding a simple self registration options provides us with a whole new piece of software that isn’t really a whole new environment to manage. So that’s it … call me crazy, but would an environment like this give us something important?

3 thoughts on “Simple Repositories

  1. I’ll tip my hand (which will make me blog it later tonight) but I’ve been trying something similar with Posterous- which has the bookmarklet like tool you created, but also has the butt simple easy method of posting simply by sending email. And I have been cross posting to it as I tag in delicious using its new send by email feature.

    I’ve been looking for something to replace that reflex when you find something cool, and you dash off an email with a link and a blurb maybe.

    But I’l be *****ed if I ever use the “R” word!

  2. I think this would be a great solution for the Multimedia Group web space. I aggregate our delicious tag, but having a broader scope from multiple users would be useful.

    I guess being able to control who can join is what gives it that repository name.

  3. This is clearly a great idea. Repositories are often not simple because of implementation and a lack of focus on simplifying the end user role.

    Your idea suggests a requirement for a more open architecture where a repository can support multiple front end applications using a service-based approach. This is a must-have for technology infrastructure anyway and learning technologies should not be seen as different to the rest of an organizations infrastructure which commonly the case right. An over statement of the requirement for specialized learning applications instead of a creative use of a range of common applications.

    The missing piece is a structured content model (or simple pick and mix approach) to support the objective to feed to multiple apps, and of course, support accessibility and mobility and other ‘ilities’.

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