Recap the design of notebook

While I was doing my elearning research in my graduate school back in 2002-2005, it was center of my research topic what should be the basic unit of knowledge or so called learning object. When twitter came out, I realized actually the short snippets limited by number of characters can be a very ideal candidate for the basic unit of knowledge. We enforce the length of the snippets so it can only represent a small unit of thought/experience. Based on these small units of thought/experience, we can probably construct knowledge and thus learning software can be very different because of it.

As a life long learner myself, it has become quite natural for me to base my learning on my past experiences, and I have trained myself to form a discipline to reflect on those experiences regularly to advance my learning. As I was visiting my hometown and seeing my old childhood friends and neighbors, I realized how people generally lack the habit and skills of self-reflection. They have a lot of experiences in various fields. But they don’t know how to reflect on their past experiences to gain a better clarity on their lives, for example, what they really want and how to make their lives happier. This lacking of skill in learning (self-reflection is surely a core skill of learning) is quite universal. Personally I strongly believe learning is essential for one’s happiness of life. And it is sad to see so many people badly affected by the lack of learning skills.

As I was doing research on elearning, I have seen various ideas in the elearning field. I am glad to see that recently there start to emerge some new ideas that are moving towards bringing real learning to people. But I think we still need a breakthrough in how knowledge is represented digitally and how it is shared thereafter

As for myself personally, I am always learning many things in my life. So it is a challenging task to manage all the learning efforts very well. So I am dreaming of a tool to help my own learning as well.

So I decided to make such a tool.

The initial goals:

Making it very easy and convenient for ordinary people to note down what they have experienced right on the spot. So they can keep doing whatever they are doing and only review what they noted at night time or at weekends.

And when they are reviewing the notes, they should be able to review it very quickly, adding tags, rank importance, deleting notes or archiving notes that are not important now, doing bulk edition, and so on.

It should be easy to put notes into a frame and share it with others.

For an individual, it can be an personal content generation tool. So you have your own content at one place, and you can share with some groups or publish to the world as you like. You can push notes or frames into twitter or import tweets from twitter. You can build a post from a frame and push it to various blogs of yours. You have your data (preferably on your own desktop or network storage you trust), and you choose how you want to share it.

Build up knowledge on top of these notes, share with other people and learn together. Or more formally, you can open courses and teach others.

Later, I realize these notes are just like some basic data and I can build various apps on them. So there is this learning area, which is to pull up all notes related to a learning area (for example, software programming), and have them well organized: grouped into resources, examples, news, blogs, videos, tutorials, and so on, and you can view them through frames or tag trees. You can also ask questions or add project directly in it.

Also I realize with a lot of notes, a top-down structure might be needed to allow quick access. So in addition to frames, tag tree are designed.

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