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December 10, 2003



Long ago, while I was learning folk tales at the University, I came across the
Aarne-Thompson Index of "Motifs".
A motif may be an action, an item, a character, or even a direct quote from the
book. However, whatever that motif is, Aarne and Thompson have identified it as
an improtant characteristic of at least one folk tale. Their method involves
comparing the motifs present in the stories. Stories that have many of the same
motifs are then classified as related and given a number.
This idea of taking the smallest unit of an idea fascinated me ever since and the result is QTSaver, which arranges the same web motifs according to different needs.
Please see more details on my blog

Nova Spivack

Microcontent is defined because it is a paradigm shift -- but of course all content is part of a continuum of "content."


hm. your definition sounds good. but I don't see any reason in defining microcontent as a separate substance. What is it done for, huh?

John Abbe

So is xpath like purple numbers? Are paragraphs within microcontent nanocontent?

Some people seem to be searching for something to treat as atomic. It's all holonic (things made up of other things) of course, so in that framing we're looking for useful ways of chunking things. One weblog page can have multiple items per day, and someone will want to be able to look at each day *and* at each item in the day as pieces of microcontent.

A future with mix of explicitly and inferredly chunked stuff seems likely.

Will soon post a related item to http://ourpla.net/cgi/pikie?ObBlog


False dichotomy. For example: use an xpath statement as a parameter in a URL get. Now the content can both be embedded and uniquely addressable.

Nova Spivack

Actually, I am thinking about this some more... I think that microcontent should have a URI because it should have a network identity. If it is merely marked up data then it cannot be located on the network and could not even be said to be distinct from other content that it is embedded in. There are many reasons why we might want microcontent to be distinct and addressible even when embedded in other content.

Nova Spivack

Yes you raise a good point. I am going to modify my definition!

adrian cuthbert

I am intrigued that you consider microcontent should necessarily have a URI. I have always thought that something like 'event details' expressed in a suitably marked-up way containing information such as a 'name', 'time' and 'place' was a good candidate for microcontent. Similarly its compactness also makes it a good candidate for copying around (as an email attachment for example 'passed by value') which could then be unpacked by a helper application that understands that particular type of microcontent.

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Nova's Trip to Edge of Space

  • Stepsedgestratosphere
    In 1999 I flew to the edge of space with the Russian air force, with Space Adventures. I made it to an altitude of just under 100,000 feet and flew at Mach 3 in a Mig-25 piloted by one of Russia's best test-pilots. These pics were taken by Space Adventures from similar flights to mine. I didn't take digital stills -- I got the whole flight on digital video, which was featured on the Discovery Channel.

Nova & Friends, Training For Space...

  • Img021
    In 1999 I was invited to Russia as a guest of the Russian Space Agency to participate in zero-gravity training on an Ilyushin-76 parabolic flight training aircraft. It was really fun!!!! Among other people on that adventure were Peter Diamandis (founder of the X-Prize and Zero-G Corporation), Bijal Trivedi (a good friend of mine, science journalist), and "Lord British" (creator of the Ultima games). Here are some pictures from that trip...


People I Like

  • Peter F. Drucker
    Peter F. Drucker was my grandfather. He was one of my principal teachers and inspirations all my life. My many talks with him really got me interested in organizations and society. He had one of the most impressive minds I've ever encountered. He died in 2005 at age 95. Here is what I wrote about his death. His foundation is at http://www.pfdf.org/
  • Mayer Spivack
    Mayer Spivack is my father; he's a brilliant inventor, cognitive scientist, sculptor, designer and therapist. He also builds carbon fiber trimarans in his spare time, and studies animal intelligence. He is working on several theories related to the origins of violence and ways to prevent it, new treatments for learning disabilities, and new theories of cognition. He doesn't have a Web site yet, but I'm working on him...
  • Marin Spivack
    Marin Spivack is my brother. He is the one of the only western 20th generation lineage holders of the original Chen Family Tai Chi tradition in China. He's been practicing Tai Chi for about 6 to 10 hours a day for the last 10 years and is now one of the best and most qualified Tai Chi teachers in America. He just returned from 3 years in China studying privately with a direct descendant of the original Chen family that created Tai Chi. The styles that he teaches are mainly secret and are not known or taught in the USA. One thing is for sure, this is not your grandmother's Tai Chi: This is serious combat Tai Chi -- the original, authentic Tai Chi, not the "new age" form that is taught in the USA -- it's intense, physically-demanding, fast, powerful and extremely deadly. If you are serious about Tai Chi and want to learn the authentic style and applications, the way it was meant to be, you should study with my brother. He's located in Boston these days but also travels when invited to teach master classes.
  • Louise Freedman
    Louise specializes in art-restoration. She does really big projects like The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, The Gardner Museum and Harvard University. She's also a psychotherapist and she's married to my dad. She likes really smart parrots and she knows how to navigate a large sailboat.
  • Kris Thorisson
    Kris has been working with me for years on the design of the Radar Networks software, a new platform for the Semantic Web. He has a PhD from the MIT Media Lab. He designs intelligent humanoids and virtual realities. He is from Iceland, which makes him pretty cool.
  • Kimberly Rubin
    Kim is my girlfriend and partner, and also a producer of 11 TV movies, and now an entrepreneur in the pet industry. She is passionate about animals. She has unusual compassion and a great sense of humor.
  • Kathleen Spivack
    Kathleen Spivack is my mother. She's a poet, novelist and creative writing teacher. She was a personal student of Robert Lowell and was in the same group of poets with Silvia Plath, Elizabeth Bishop and Anne Sexton. She coaches novelists, playwrites and poets in France and the USA. She teaches privately and her students, as well as being published, have won many of the top writing prizes.
  • Josh Kirschenbaum
    Josh is a visual effects whiz, director and generalist hacker in LA. We have been pals and collaborators since the 1980's. Josh is probably going to be the next Jim Cameron. He's also a really good writer.
  • Joey Tamer
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  • Jim Wissner
    Jim is among the most talented software developers I've ever worked with. He's a prolific Java coder and an expert on XML. He's the lead engineer for Radar Networks.
  • Jerry Michalski
    I have been friends with Jerry for many years; he's been advising Radar Networks on social software technology.
  • Chris Jones
    Chris is a long-time friend and now works with me in Radar Networks, as our director of user-experience. He's a genius level product designer, GUI designer, and product manager.
  • Bram Boroson
    Bram is an astrophysicist and college pal of mine. We spend hours and hours brainstorming about cellular automata simulations of the universe. He's one of the smartest people I ever met.
  • Bari Koral
    Bari Koral is a really talented singer songwriter. We co-write songs together sometimes. She's getting some buzz these days -- she recently opened for India Arie. She worked at EarthWeb many years ago. Now she tours almost all year long and she just had a hit in Europe. Check out her video, on her site.
  • Adam Cohen
    Adam Cohen is a long-term friend; we were roommates in college. He is a really talented composer and film-scorer. He doesn't have a Web site but I like him anyway! He's in Hollywood living the dream.
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