I spoke before about summary views and I want to elaborate on them a bit more. What I’m noticing more and more is the importance of having a separation between your content and how it is displayed. For example, when people think of a blog journal they immediately think of a certain display of content. Yet in actual fact, you could take that same content and display it in a myriad of different ways.
Right now, a default weblog view is really nothing more than a chronological sequence of your content displayed in reverse chronological order with the last entry you created always at the top. Also archives are nothing more than other views of that same content. A category view is a summary view of your content filtered by a specific category type. That’s it.
So when I made this realization, I started asking myself, “If these views could be separated from the content itself, could they be reused repeatedly for different types of content?” For example, let’s say I have a weblog that focuses just on my music I’ve purchased and listened to over the years. What would it look like in a normal weblog format? Well, probably something like how I’ve already got on music listed on my site now.
But then I started asking myself, what are some other different views and how would this content look in that view? For example, what if I want to see my content in a calendar view showing three months per web page and with each day in each month showing a thumbnail of an album I purchased or reviewed on that day. I could look over the last three months and at a glance see very easily the albums I’ve added to my collection.
But again, lets say I wanted to see a yearly view of my favorite albums. What would it look like? Well, lets say I show all 12 months on one page with the top album thumbnails listed in a row for each month. So I’d see 12 horizontal rows one below the other showing say the top five albums from each month. Again I could very easily see my changes in my taste of music over the year and what music influenced me the most that year.
As I said though, the content for all of these different views is exactly the same. The only thing that differs is the display format of the content.
Again I start thinking about photo albums and I started wondering if this was just a summary view then how could I use it for different types of content. First off, what’s a photo album? To me it is not only a summary view of a specific collection (or categorization) of photos from a say a photo weblog but it is a type of view that I can also arrange to my liking. Unlike a normal weblog which follows a chronological order, a photo album should be of a type that I can rearrange the photos to my liking.
So what would happen if we replaced the content of photos with say actual normal weblog content? So lets say I wanted to create a collection of blog posts that I felt focused on a particular category, let’s say culture in my case. Even more so I though it would be great if I could manipulate the order of those posts so that flowed together better. As soon as I started thinking this, I realized what I was talking about. Yes, the idea behind Squidoo again.
Now what if the content was about people I’ve collaborated with in the past. A normal weblog view would be the person’s name as the title with a description afterwords being the post content. This would kind of look like my people section on my site now. But what would it look like if I only displayed the title for each post (i.e. their names) and instead of those titles linking to my post on them it link to their site. What would I have? A blogroll that’s what. Again, nothing changes with regards to the content. All I’m doing is just changing the display of it.
The question I have now is what is the best “default view” for each content type? For example, what do you do if one person prefers a Flickr photo stream view (similar to a weblog), yet another person prefers a default photo album view with photos grouped by album being displayed for their default view? How do you meet the needs of both of those types of people at the same time?