Thoughts on Microcontent

One of the hot new topics in the blogosphere, at least the part that I inhabit, is microcontent. I recently saw a definition that was meaningful to me–I wish I could credit the author. Anyway, he or she said that most people don’t have the time, energy, or commitment to produce and maintain macrocontent, think books or the webpages of institutions. But many people can produce microcontent, little bits of data, short arguments, or observations, think blogs or podcasts.

Call me a luddite, but I don’t think we have an established model for how to use microcontent effectively as a teaching resource yet–I’m thinking primarily of content here, not so much as a creative medium which I do see. It seems to me that the noise to signal ratio is very high. What we need is some way to filter or process the data so that what comes out is pedagogically useful. The filters we have at present are pretty crude. We can follow specific bloggers, but most of the bloggers I follow post on a wide variety of subjects. I wouldn’t want to assign my students to read a person’s entire blog just to get the entries on one topic. Even something like technorati seems like a pretty coarse filter. Right now, I seem to be limited to collecting microcontent a la carte, which seems like an inefficient and not very scalable way to do it.

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