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Stocks and Flows – Articulation

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Lee LeFever finished his great 3-part article in CommonCraft about Stocks and Flows in online communication.

Introduction to Stocks and Flows in Online Communication (part 1 of 3)
Introduction to Stocks and Flows (2 of 3): Weblogs, Wikis and RSS
Introduction to Stocks and Flows (3 of 3): Back to Basics

My takes, comments and articulation on the above posts in a online learning context:

Flow: Information flows to the user; timely, emergent and engaging
Stock: Information exists at a specific location, static, archived and organized for reference.

Lee stated a community example, which started as a simple e-mail list. As the volume of messages grew, the need for stocks became apparent – the members couldn’t keep up with the flow and needed a back up in the form of message archives. The emails provided the flow, the message board provided the stock.

Weblogs, according to Lee are predominantly flow resources. Once a post is made to a weblog, the information has a shelf life and often begins losing pertinence and value over time. For this reason, weblogs are best viewed as flows – a resource that is timely and engaging. I can’t agree totally with you in this matter Lee. Blogs are useful for conceptualized and categorized stocks also. Categories and archives are what for? I was going through all of your posts in “Technology in Plain English” category after reading stocks and flow series. I think it all depends on the type of the posts and housing technique. One good example would be elearningpost, where Maish uses news-publishing format for regular and time sensitive posts and article format to archive features.

Could it be that the biggest difference between weblogs and traditional websites is that weblogs enable flow?

Blogs also allow smooth flow because of RSS. We cannot mention the flow of weblogs without mentioning RSS. Thanks to RSS, a person can visit a web site and subscribe to an RSS feed – which ensures that they are notified the next time the website is updated.

In his post Lee mentioned wikis are predominantly stock resource, again a matter of debate, I think wikis can be used for conversation too. But I totally agree with Lee about, the potential of using wiki along with blogs.

While most weblogs automatically archive (stock) weblog posts, it is challenging to archive and organize posts from multiple weblogs in an online location not organized by time or author.
As information flows through the weblog world, the need arises to stock this independently produced information in an easy-to-organize format that can be shared by a group as an online reference resource. Wikis can fill this need.
Because wikis are very easy to update and organize, they can be a perfect tool for stocking the information produced by the weblog world. As weblogs flow, wikis can be used to pluck out pertinent information and organize it for easy reference. Wikis stock the weblog world’s flow.

More collectibles from Lee-
The key point about flow and online communication is ongoing engagement. When a person engages in a flow, their attention is captured in small increments as communication flows by them over time. These short bursts of information can enable a person to manage a large number of communication resources at once. People have quickly learned to manage many forms of flow everyday on the phone, instant messenger, email, newsreader, etc. A real-world conversation is perhaps the essence of flow.

stocks organized intuitively? Can visitors search the stocks productively? What are visitors looking for? Why aren’t they finding it? Do the stocks have a shelflife? Should they expire and become inaccessible at some point?

This reminds me of the eternal problem of life cycle management of RLO’s in a content repository. Problems become more prominent when interdependencies and linkages increase.

Overall great post Lee, I think looking at any content and communication at stock and flow perspective is great for information and learning content design.

At last, a comment from Peter Caputa
I think you should expand beyond wiki’s, weblogs and discussion forums to try to explain other web tools such as IM, Chat, Email, Search in this context.
IM and chat are interesting because they are all about flow. No Stock About it.

Written by anol

April 12th, 2004 at 11:47 am

Posted in Social Media

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