I’ve been thinking about lists a lot for the last 6 months or so, ever since Dave Winer started developing reading lists using opml.
Reading lists are an incredible, beautifully simple idea – you take a list of rss feeds in opml format and subscribe to the list.
Someone else manages the list, and you get to see the posts stream from the chosen list of blogs.
It’s brilliant – curated, abstracted expertise, flowing into your ‘inbox’.
And the concept should really make sharing expertise and knowledge in organisations much easier – just subscribe to experts in your company…
…and for experts, it’s as easy as curating a list of sources…
The management of a reading list is a fantastic constraint for a busy expert, one that anyone can grasp and actively create…much easier to introduce into a company to get knowledge sharing off the ground, than the investment of time actual blogging requires (although lists and aggregated rss are a great intro to blogging’s benefits).
So, it got me thinking about lists in a wider sense of knowledge – and getting people in organisations to share their knowledge. But also about the benefits of the constraint and ease of creating lists.
So I’ve come up with the idea of learning lists – kind of a hybrid of the reading list (they’ll certainly support the reading list ‘spec’ into opml) and to-do lists…
If I was an expert in a company, what would be the top 10 things I reckon colleagues should know about the area I work in? And what would the top 5 blogs/news sites etc (with an rss feed of course) be? And the top 5 documents, movies, audio etc. etc.
Now, what if I, as an ‘expert’ put those lists together? I’d have created a really lightweight ‘curriculum’ for any of my fellow employees to learn about my area of expertise. And it would take me maybe 15 minutes to put together these lists.
A reading list supporting rss reader would deliver the ‘learning list’ and the expert keeps it up to date.
It’s a semantic difference, I suppose, to reading lists – they’re the same thing, technically, just a switch of context to overt education/knowledge sharing.
Even cooler – what if the documents etc. that the expert points to are bundled into an rss feed – bing, instant enclosures, downloaded to the interested employee.
I’m going to build a web app to enable the simple creation of these learning lists – powered by opml and rss of course…that way they’re completely portable, and usable in the opml editor and other apps.
( Addendum: of course, ‘learning lists’ can easily be created, right now, in the opml editor, but I’m aiming at my clients – and they need web apps, because they can’t install software on their work pcs)
And the natural flip-side of a curated learning list, are lists created by learners as to-do’s for a particular area of skill development – create a personal ‘live’ curriculum by subscribing to several areas of expertise and creating your own activities and to-dos…
This creates direct connections between employees to share their knowledge, simply and quickly.
When I thought of the idea, and registered a domain on Boxing Day, I hadn’t seen Squidoo, or top ten sources.
Squidoo, in particular, has implemented an incredibly similar idea, I suppose, but their ‘business model’ is an explicit leverage of various api’s with the obligatory google ad words…it’s very well done…like a distributed, automated, about.com?
Top Ten Sources is different – it’s the presentation of editor-managed reading lists and the reader in one – I love the site…fantastic – plus they share the curated lists through opml etc.
I’m trying to connect knowledge sharers in companies, and so think my idea’s a bit different, and certainly will be, in it’s coming implementation…
And with Dave Winer’s innovation and leadership for reading lists meaning that the format will be adopted by the rss readers (he’s already done it in the opml editor), plus the upcoming RSS sharing extensions open sourced from MS, I reckon RSS is going to tear down those big expensive Learning Management Systems, byte by overpriced, redundant byte.