Organizing Lots of Information

A very smart and frequent participant here wrote in today and said (paraphrasing)

 

…Why do you  organize the Learn section around type (video, quickstart, tutorial) instead of topic/task (data binding, layout, browser integration)?

Today I had a Data Binding question…I remember seeing what I wanted on Silverlight.net but not where. I looked at quick starts, then videos and finally found it in tutorials. Doesn't it make sense to have everything about Data Binding together?

Great question!  I have three parts to my answer at least:

1. We are going to be reorganizing this site in the coming months to make it more useful; that is certain. What I'm about to write, though, has nothing to do with that process.

2. What is useful for one person is not always useful for everyone else, and one reasonably difficult thing to agree on is categorization, though you wouldn't think so.

A quick social psych experiment: next time you are a party, ask someone to empty their pockets and to separate the contents into six logical piles. Refuse to provide further guidance.  Once they are done, ask them to explain their piles.  You'll find over time that everyone can do it, that everyone can explain in some detail why these are the logical mutually exclusive piles, but that everyone's criteria are different.

3. I have not discussed what I'm about to say with anyone else, nor am I sure that this way of organizing our tutorials and videos would be useful to anyone but me, but I did enjoy losing an hour thinking about it.

If I were using this site; I'd like total control of how I access the learning material. I'd want to be able to find the material by topic, by type or even by who created it. But I would want all these "boxes" to be transparent.  

I want to know what is in them before I open them, to minimize hunting around, and I want to be sure that whichever path I take I can always change my mind.

 

Step1

 

 

In this truly geeked out approach, I'm asked to choose if I want to see the available information by Topic, by Medium or by Presenter, but I don't have to guess what is under each of these choices.

Let's assume that I prefer the presentations by that incredibly talented chap Liberty, and so I click on his name. This opens up the sub-menu that displays the contributions he has made, but once again I can choose to see it organized by topic or by medium (of course, just the subset he created)

SubMenu

 

Clicking on his videos presents me with the topics he has videos on, and clicking on a topic presents a list of his videos on that topic.  Not bad.  Not perfect, but not bad.

Organization

 

But…

Where do I look if I want all the information available on using animation to display data?  

How do I find out what has been added since the last time I was here, since I've already seen everything that was available?

It would be nice to have a search… but open ended searches can be incredibly frustrating when you are searching through  a relatively small set of data. Guided searches might be better. Something like the Outlook or iTunes Search comes to mind. 

Search

 

In any case, please remember that these are the random ramblings of an idle mind, and have not even been discussed with anyone else, let alone planned for this or any other site. They are just how I think about finding all the info here. Today. For the moment.

 

Your mileage may vary. Void where prohibited. Contents are hot.

About Jesse Liberty

Jesse Liberty has three decades of experience writing and delivering software projects and is the author of 2 dozen books and a couple dozen Pluralsight & LinkedIn Learning courses. He was a Senior Technical Evangelist for Microsoft, a Distinguished Software Engineer for AT&T, a VP for Information Services for Citibank and a Software Architect for PBS. He is a Xamarin Certified Mobile Developer and a Xamarin MVP and a Microsoft MVP.
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