Tell me more…July 25, 2009
The basic idea: A method of presenting information such that you get as much detail as you need based on how long you read/view the info.
Example one: The Red Sox beat the Orioles last night… the key piece of info is who won. So one of the smallest versions of this story could be “Red Sox Win.” Most people will want more – like the score, maybe they didn’t know who they were playing or where… so another version is the obvious “Boston Beats Baltimore 3-1 at Fenway.”
For purely academic discussion: If the news query was “How did the Red Sox do last night?” The answer could be boiled down to a single bit. 1= They Won, 0 = They Lost. If all I had time for was a single bit – this would be a great piece of information.
Continuing the academic discussion: What if I had time for 2 bits? Maybe there’s nothing useful in a 2nd bit… or maybe it could be defined as “At home?” So last nights story in two bits is 11, which translates to “They Won, and they played at home.”
The score and opponent are usually viewed as important pieces, so we have to define how many bits for this info, and we eventually get to a “11111101” = which breaks down to “They won, at home, 3 to 1 against the 4th team in a list of MLB eastern league teams. An algorithm could be designed to fit useful info into as few bits as possible.
Back to the big idea – currently we have a very established system of “Head Line” and “Story.” I’m sure there’s a commonly accepted maximum length for the Head Line – maybe 100 characters, and the Story tends to range from a front page “couple paragraphs” to magazine styled “as much as can be read in a typical bathroom session.”
My idea is to enable an author to write a story such that it can be consumed in almost any size. The Sports story is easy to define – but where this really hits the fan is international political stories where the audience has a questionable amount of previous knowledge. Someone very up on their geopolitical events could get a short version, but someone without this background could consume more bits to deepen their understanding.
Weather is another topic that could probably be broken down to the single bit response to “Will it be nice out tomorrow?” to the more complex, “What temperature will it be during school hours?”