Information Routing

Jon Udell discusses “what do you do with an item you might need in the future?”

Option one: nothing. Rely on search to be able to find it again. That’s been a poor option in the past, but a number of forces — including Gmail, WinFS, and Apple’s Spotlight — aim to improve it.

Option two: tell someone else about it. Various motivations govern the impulse to send an FYI (for your interest) email to a group. Maybe you’ll simply inform the group; maybe the group will act on something you can’t; maybe the group will respond with information that’s new and valuable to you. But the FYI email is a blunt instrument at best. It requires the sender to know, a priori, something that is unknowable — namely, who should receive the alert.

Option three: tell your subscribers about it. In other words, blog it. That way, the self-selected group of people who subscribe to you will be alerted. And the search engines will ensure that everyone can find the item later. The problem here is that the item is not categorized unless…

Option four: blog it to a topic. Now people can subscribe to that specific category or topic. The problem here is that when you subdivide an individual blogger’s output into topics, the flow for any specific topic will be thin.

Option five: blog it to a shared topic. This is what enables. It supports the operation “route item to topic,” which is distinct from “send item to individual or group” or “post item to blog” or even “post item to blog topic.”

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.