Sunday, February 03, 2013

Exponential displays of information

We spend a lot of time processing information, yes? It strikes me that I often want exponentially-increasing levels of information, at approximately powers of 3 or 4.

Example 1: academic papers. There's the title, which is about one sentence. Then there's the abstract, a one-paragraph summary. Then you can read the intro and conclusion, which is about a page or two total. Then you can read the whole paper. It's not explicitly set up for this (beyond the abstract) but it feels like that's what they're getting at.

Example 2: music. I think the best possible recommendation you can give me is: a band name, one song, 3-4 songs, one album (9-16 songs), and 3-4 albums. (or if one of these levels doesn't apply, say so, and say why. examples: "one-hit wonder, just listen to this one song" or "it's a concept album, you have to listen to the whole thing.") That way, I can keep digging as long as I'm interested, but know that I'm not super missing out if I stop.

Example 3: ... good question! Trailers for movies maybe, but there's no level between 2 minutes and 2 hours.

I guess I'm saying I want this in all domains. It'd be so good to say "I want to learn... statistics!" and then have the one-paragraph, one-page, 3 pages, chapter, short book, long book, etc. versions of stats. I'd love to get news in tweet, paragraph, web-news-article, and in-depth-article forms.

No comments: