Thursday, September 16, 2004

Home base

"A place for everything and everything in its place."

You need to start somewhere. A space for you. A central collection point for reminders. For notes to oneself. This is the I know/you don't pane of the Johari window. It's not so much the facade as the secret and the ephemeral. I don't need two short-term to-do lists. Nor password post-it's spread all over hell. For me, InfoSelect is going to take this central role.

Steve Keim anecdote. Lost for sake of a pocket calendar.

Use Pattern Language as organizing principle?

Monday, September 13, 2004

Thinkbot - Ridiculously Easy Thought Sharing

Thinkbot - Ridiculously Easy Thought Sharing: "Thinkbot is an easy way to find other people who are thinking about the same things as you.

With a simple command, you can search Thinkbot's database of users and chat instantly to someone who shares your thoughts."

Searching the BlogSphere

Searching the BlogSphere

Very cool. Lets you search only blogs you read....

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Meatball Wiki: WhatIsaWiki

Meatball Wiki: WhatIsaWiki: "WhatIsaWiki
MeatballWiki | RecentChanges | Preferences | Indices | Categories
Consider first the social metaphor of WikiAsRoom. A wiki is not a heck of a lot, really. It's simply a place for people to do their work.

But if you are focused on the actual code, then a wiki is Simplicity above all. Wikis are a very pure reflection of a digital text. A single wiki page is just a buffer sitting on a network that anyone can edit--in the sense that it doesn't distinguish between authors and readers. This is like a piece of paper, except without palimpsest.

Everything aside from that is tacked onto a wiki, but some things have proven useful:

From the single simplicity principle:

* Universal editing (simple access)
* Uncluttered syntax (simple writing/editing)
* Easy linking with backlinks (simple structure)
* Recent changes (simple event tracking)
* Version history (simple data tracking)

From these simple features, organization follows social norms and rules that we all grew up with. (simple governance)

If it's not simple, it's broken. People asking for more features don't understand that they are actually often limiting what they can do with a wiki, not expanding what they can do.

Thus, wikis only work for simple (uncomplicated) people.

The outcomes tend to be quite complex, however."

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Book Proposal

Title: Personal Knowledge Management
Alternative: Net Learning or Informal Learning

1. Adults suffering from information deluge and want to take the matter in hand. Personal Knowledge Management is a new self-help category, analogous to Time Management before we had access to the net.
2. Chief Learning Officers, Directors of Training, HR Directors, product managers, and other managers with an interest in improving the flow of knowledge and innovation within their organizations.

Principles and examples of how people and organizations are using email, telephone, blogs, wikis, journals, digital assistants, and other technologies to simplify their lives, increase productivity, reduce stress, simplify their routines, and keep pace with the modern world.


"To the infant the world is just a big, booming, buzzing confusion." William James

You and I are but babes in the digital age.

Everyone complains of being overwhelmed by a gusher of email, junk mail, voice mail, and snail mail. At the very time the futurists of the 60’s predicted that humanity’s main problem would be avoiding boredom in our lives of leisure, we’re working more and accomplishing less. Stress-related illnesses such as heart disease and cancer are epidemic. We’re undergoing a phase change, and no amount of multi-tasking, time management, and PDAs are going to save us.

Technology built to serve us enslaves us instead. Cacophony rules. We have no time. This is hardly a surprise, for our brains have evolved very little since the days when we lived in caves and hunted mastodons and sabre-toothed tigers. Our minds haven’t learned how to deal with today’s attackers and diversions. Not so long ago, we lived in a simpler, less demanding world. We coped quite well doing what our parents and teachers had taught us. Those times are long gone, replaced by an ever-changing scene. Many of us are are so caught up in the day to day that we never get around to the longer term.

Short-term frenzy is the price we pay for trying to apply old ways of learning to an entirely new world. The amount of information in the world doubles every five years. The rate of change is accelerating. The dissolution of boundaries between disciplines means that we must track fields outside our specialties. The skills my grandfather learned in school served him for the whole of his life. Today a degree in electrical engineering becomes obsolete in four years. Fifty years ago, a typical employee worked for one or perhaps two firms in his entire life. Today's employee is more likely to work in a dozen firms.

In the old days, knowledge was largely fixed. When you learned something, you put it in your head with the expectation that you'd keep it on call for when you needed it. Today, knowledge is fluid. There's clearly too much to retain, but also new knowledge replaces old. Consider how much information about nutrition has been proven dead wrong in the last five years. The Food Pyramid gave bogus advice. Margarine is bad for you. A plain baked potato was once an austere diet food; now it's a simple carbohydrate that may spike your blood-sugar.

The old dictionary definition of Learning was "he acquisition of knowledge or a skill through study or experience." A secondary meaning was "to memorize or fix in the mind." These definitions pre-date the cognitive tools we use to supplement what's in our heads. Now that four-function calculators are nearly ubiquitous, it's no longer necessary to use slide rules or logarithms or paper & pencil to perform long division. With a Palm device in my pocket, I can consult it for telephone numbers and appointments rather than try to keep them in my head. With Google available to students, there's no point in memorizing the dates of birth and death of historic figures. We can delegate many things we once had to learn to these external memory supports. When we get it right, we can see the forest, no longer worrying about memorizing the trees.

Learning is a means to an end. We learn in order to accomplish something, either to get something done or to enjoy life more or to prosper in the realms that matter to us. Some dictionaries also defiine learning as discovery or getting it. This is a more apt definition for our purposes. Understanding is more important than memorizing. We're going to be looking at learning as a coping mechanism. We're going to learn how to deal with infoglut, needless clutter, and superfluous repetittion. We will learn ways to accelerate the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks and how to put technology to work for us instead of vice-versa. We'll help you cut down on the needless stress that comes of fruitlessly trying to fit old solutions to solve new problems.

Abraham Lincoln said that if he were going to spend a day chopping wood, he’d spend the first hour or two sharpening his axe. This is a book about sharpening axes. We’ll learn how others are dealing with information overload, unrealistic demands, and managing personal knowledge.

Among the questions we’ll address are Push and pull. Inflow and outgo. Information triage. Living by the 80/20 rule. Simplifying life. Email faster, filtering tools, collaboration, personal knowledge management, meta-learning, KLOGs, phone calls, reading, archiving, triage, idea mapping, and time slicing. Time shifting.

This is corporate as well as individual.

Tom Davenport says that the average worker spends more than 40 percent of an eight-hour workday using technologies to process work-related information. The tools and technologies designed to make life easier often have the opposite effect and consume too much of an individual's time and energy, he said. There is a significant opportunity for organizations to save time and money by focusing on managing an individual's personal information and knowledge environment. As a result, knowledge management (KM) strategies should focus on managing personal information and knowledge within the organization.

Potential Chapters/Themes

The bumbling, buzzing world. Scope of the problem. Complexity. Info glut. Horror stories. Information environmentalism (the movement that seeks to reduce information overload and its effects on people's lives.) Statistics. Breakdown. Information fatigue syndrome. Just-in-time lifestyle. Stress. Frustration. Irony. A better way. No one answer: basic principles.

Taking charge. Know thyself. Your ideal world. Your learning style. Privacy. The Johari window. The 80/20 rule. Your personal cockpit. Quicken sickness. Alerts. Choosing your own info strategy. Personal outsourcing. Personal choices. Quotes and stories. Need for focus. Principles of getting things done. Connecting with the right information, the right people, the right processes. Flow, access, storage, and recall. Automation and delegation.

Networks. A new definition of learning. Three degrees of separation; you are not Kevin Bacon. Choosing your commuinties. Career. Enjoyment. Aftermath. Responsibility. Learing as prospering in the communities that matter.

The process viewpoint. Looking down from the balcony. Simplicity. Organization. A place for everything. Random vs taxonomy. Different strokes. X1. InfoSelect. Empowerment. An I/O model.

Informal learning and the corporation. In-house publishing. Rewarding the sharing of information. Wikis and blog inside the firewall. Blogs & plogs. Project management applications. RSS. The grapevine. Customer blogs.

Sorting things out. Your e-mailbox. email fatigue. Research on email. Remail. Gmail. A place for everything. The circular file. Retention. Restarting. Timing. Real and imagined. Pierre Salinger syndrome.

Speeding things up. Copernic. Email triage. The Journal as General Ledger. Reflection. Summary first. Relying on others. Cheatsheets. Generalization.

The nature of knowledge work. Finding what you need. Searching. Exomemory/ Reference blogs. Keeping up with RSS. A PIMS (Personal information management system). Blogs, RSS, WIkis. A sample. Net-net.

Connections. Rolodex. Social networking. Automatic vs spontaneous.

Stocks and flows. Over time, all costs are variable, everything flows, and entropy devours all. Wikis and blogs. Books and newspapers. Reading others. Links. Permalinks. Furl and Spurl. Time horizon.

Communication. Giving good phone. FIltering. Junk mail. Storage. IM. Email. Form in. Card scanners. Calendar. Shared calendar.

Tool box. What's on your hard disk. Choices. Local or in the new aether? Target pages. No HTML? Word.

Shit happens. Security. Passwords. Privacy. Compartmentalization. Online and off.

The bottom line for business. The new autonomy. Your personal bottom line.

(+ companion website to keep up with technology changes, samples, supplements, dialog).

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