An important feature was added yesterday to the World Outline, which is the system I use to manage all my online data with, in a single document .
This single document is an outline.(image)
Upon hearing the term 'outline', I find many people cringe in a pavlovian response to the notion of creating outlines for schoool work.
If you use a todo list, you're using a form of an outline. If you file and retrieve documents on a computer, you are using a very sophisticated outliner that knows you to keep track of files, allowing you to move them from one node to another, or even creating aliases.
Outlines and the programs that you manage them with (outliners) are incredibly useful for managing data.
The power of displaying an outline is that the reader of the information can instantly understand the context of how you've arranged and sorted it.
Twice a week for my podcast I create shownotes that have links to all the stories and topics discussed, as well as clips used on the show and a very important list of 'credits'. The credits are to thank financial supporters of each episode.
On this page you see the shownotes for a recent episode.
Clicking on any of the blue triangles lets you drill down into each section, which usually will go one more level deeper under each subcategory.
You are seeing a web version of my desktop docment. Here's a view of them side by side in a partially exanded state.
So far the response to the new display of the show's data has been very positive. Its a fast way to navigate through a relatively large amount of data, without clicking through to other pages. It's mobile friendly since it works on all the modern smartphone browsers without the need for lots of scrolling or waiting for a new page to load.
The biggest request so far has been to enable a way to share a link that will take you right to a node in the outline, that is in the works for sure, as Dave Winer, creator of this system has been developing, releasing and supporting outline software for 3 decades. Yeah, he's the mac daddy of outlines.
I use his free outline editor, which is available for windows and mac. Outlines are no different from an other file you would create in an application. Where Office lets you create .doc or .xls files, the OPML Ediotr creates .opml files.
Now, the cool part is that we are only beginning to scratch the surface of what can be done collaboratively with outlines on the web.
Dave is already thinking and working on ways to make connecting outlines easy for anyone to participate in.
If you have thoughts about this and ways to use the World Outline for my shownotes or any other use, please post in the comments below.
postscript By popular request, here's a screenshot of my work environment when I'm producing the show, with a number of frequently used outlines.