Do It Yourself “Cliff Notes”

I seem to remember that Microsoft Word has a built-in autosummarization tool. I am the curious type so I have used it to see what the tool thought was the core of what I had written. I was never certain what I was to do with the results. After spending hours writing something, I was not likely to send a 10 sentence summary to anyone.

GreatSummary offers a similar service online. You submit a URL or upload a document and the service will return a summary consisting of the number of sentences you specify.

According to the site, the system works by:

# Using a mathematical technique called singular value decomposition, the system identifies the words that capture the key threads of the text. The process is repeated until the number of sentences requested by the user is reached.
# GreatSummary then ranks the sentences according to these words.

The content I decided to summarize can be found on our web site – Participatory Web. It is a description of Web 2.0 (participatory web) applications and the common characteristics that identify Web 2.0 applications. I would think the core of this piece would be the characteristics of Web 2.0 applications. Our list was not selected, but the first sentence selected (see below) is a reasonable choice.

* Our intent is to offer these examples as a frame of reference before attempting to identify ”characteristics” of these or other examples that both explain what experts argue make such a collection of services different from what was available previously and perhaps set the stage for speculation regarding the adaptation of such services for educational purpose (18)
* We provide these examples because we assume you are aware of at least a few, not because we are proposing that the examples are suited to educational applications as the examples are commonly encountered or that a given example is the most educationally relevant within a category (e.g., all blog services, all wikis). (18)
* Within this environment, learners have ready access to the collected skills and knowledge of the community (collective intelligence) and these resources can be tapped efficiently (access data at a granular level). (43)
* Henry Jenkins (2006) (note this is a pdf) challenges educators to involve students with participatory experiences to address some different issues. (46)
* Taking some time to consider these characteristics is productive because it is the characteristics rather than the examples that make the case for a qualitative difference in the way many use the Internet (28)

It reminds me of the speed reader’s summary of War and Peace.

It’s about Russia.

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