I'm wondering (out loud) if I'm guilty of taking the Small Pieces Loosely Joined concept for granted. It's one of those things that can be talked about at length, but isn't really understood until a gulp of SPLJ Kool-Aid has been swallowed and the approach has been tried on. Conceptually, it makes sense to talk about using a set of small, directed, task-oriented tools, each doing what they do best, then integrating the various tools to produce an organic, dynamic system that resembles a custom-designed software platform.
I listened to the ETS Talk Podcast #24 on the way home on Friday, and it really hit me how the SPLJ epiphany really is an individual and personal thing. It's not about comfort with "web 2.0" or with technology at all - it's more of a matter of being ready to start thinking about things in a different way. Cole and co. have been living the blog/Web2.0/open life for years now, but they reached their SPLJ epiphanies "on the air" during that podcast, when they were able to connect the concept to how it could impact what they do, and how they could approach things differently. It was actually pretty cool to hear them audibly change as the SPLJ Kool-Aid was swallowed.
I haven't exactly been very successful at walking the SPLJ walk myself - doing most of my work in content management systems that extend rather than integrate. What I typically wind up with is a rather monolithic application, tailored for a specific set of users. When a new project comes along, the customization process begins anew. How could I better take advantage of the SPLJ approach?