Xtech Conference – Proposed abstract

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this is what i submitted to the Xtech conference

Designing an open system

This paper describes an open system as an approach to creating web content that is easy to produce, share and continue to develop. This method de-emphasizes the traditional website, typified as a series of documents linked together by a common organization. Instead, the focus is on producing content, independent of its context.Designing an open system is an object oriented approach, such that common types of content share the same data sources, interfaces and libraries. It has a central URI that employs a REST style API so that each object is easily accessed and can be sourced and edited from practically anywhere on the internet. Essentially, it is a collection of objects with a common interface. The encapsulated objects allow changes to occur within the objects themselves, without disrupting the interface. The separation of the public interface from the internal structure enables the object to go through complex changes, without affecting the users’ view of the object. Also, since the content’s address remains fixed, the organization and use of these content objects need not be determined when the content is created. Thus content producers can focus on producing content, rather than presenting content.An open system provides the initial structure for content building and development. Although it uses common paradigms in systems design, the key to an open system is information accessibility. This openness changes the way that we think about both building and using content. In this model, content can be sourced dynamically instead of simply being copied, keeping references more accurate and up to date. Open systems change our view of the web from a document driven filing system to a digital landscape of flexible content.This paper will reference two case studies to illustrate open systems. The first is a set of experiments that use del.icio.us (a social bookmarking tool) to show how web content can be organized and employed after it has been produced. Tools like del.icio.us empower open systems to develop quickly and independent of future use. These experiments employ style sheets to demonstrate straightforward methods of constructing higher-level content from simple ‘open’ content.The second case study is an open source content management system built for a social service agency. This system was developed to bridge the digital divide and to build a knowledge base for this community. Through ownership and participation in an open system, the community is on its way to achieving its goals.