Thursday, September 08, 2005

The thud factor & digital libraries

Paul Myers once wrote an article on the thud factor. The thud factor can be described as the weight of a book when dropped on a table. A heavy book -- which we'll assume as a lot of good content -- goes "thud." Myers goes onto equate the thud factor with value (price). [Now we know that something that is light weight or small can be extremely valuable, but set that aside for the moment and stay with me on this.] He believes that thud can be created through the use of add-ons, for example, a book that also contains a CD. People see the add-ons -- judge the weight/thud -- and see real value.

And what does this have to do with digitization or a digital library?

When people see or use your project, can they judge its thud factor? Does it "feel" like a voluminous hardcopy book or seem more like a lightweight paperback? Does it have add-ons -- explanatory text, timelines, lesson plans, glossaries, etc. -- that contribute to its weight and value? If your project doesn't have a good thud factor, can you work on creating it?

You may be surprised at how easy you can increase your thud factor. In fact, you might do it by calling better attention to the additional pieces (add-ons) that already exist, but are not in plain sight. I found recently that I was able to create thud by breaking something (a workbook) into pieces, which also made it easier to use and more logical. It just took a little thinking and a little editing.

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