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).

Great idea for a book. Our company specializes in information triage, thematic based document navigation, and speed reading, so if you need any ideas or content please give us a call.

The Art Of Information Triage
Too Much Information


Did you ever want to be able to read faster so you can get through the many reports, emails, and documents you receive each day? Are you dealing with information overload? One of the major complaints from many information workers today is that they simply cannot keep up with the volume and frequency of the information that is bombarding them everyday. Stop for a moment and think about how much time you are going to spend for the rest of your life reading documents, reports, newspapers, emails. How many documents have you read only to determine that the information was not required after all. Imagine if we could reduce that time by half? What would you do with the extra time now available to you? I know what I would do!

One solution is to learn how to speed read but this is easier said than done. Another solution is to use software that creates a readable version of the document that is easier to review, one that allows you to navigate the document and locate just the content that is relevant to you, paragraph by paragraph.

What if there was software that could help you understand what is in a document, or even collection of documents, without having to read all of the document? The software should be designed to read a document for you and provide you with a simple and easy to read and navigable knowledge view version of the document. It should allow you to apply information triage techniques used by experienced researchers to help you immediately get the gist of a document’s contents. The software should take you well beyond getting a summary of the document by allowing you to navigate the document to locate themes that you are interested in. This is a very important feature because it allows you to zero in on the information that is important to you.

The Challenge of Information Overload

Many organizations produce extensive amounts of information, some of it purposefully (reports and marketing material) and some of it as a result of doing business (electronic messages). A major challenge we all face is trying to determine what information we should spend time on and what information is not worthy of our attention.

Information Triage is a Five Step Process

1. Does the document contain themes that I am interested in?

If Yes, then continue.
2. Does the Synopsis of the document demonstrate that I should read further?

A one page version of the document allows you to make this decision.
3. Does the Detailed Summary of the document demonstrate that I should read further?

A 20% smaller document allows you to make the decision
4. You navigate the document thematically to find only the paragraphs that contain the information that you are interested in

5. You decide to read the full document.

That’s information triage at work for you. Imagine if after looking at the synopsis of the document you decided that it did not contain information that was relevant to your job, life, family. Why would you want to read more of it?

What would Information Triage look like in action?

1. What ever it is, the solution must be simple and immeidate. Something like, "Right click" on any typical unstructured text file (Word, PDF, WordPerfect, WebPage) and select Speed Read.

2. Review the Thematic DNA Signature of the document. The themes in the document should give you a good idea of what is in the document. If the Major and Minor themes are not what your interested in, why would you want to read the document?

3. A one to one half page Synopsis (Speed Read) view of the document should be presented that you can review once you have determined that the document contains themes of interest. For a 100 page document, the Synopsis would be about 1 page and based on the major themes in the document. The Synopsis should be based on the document's original contents.

4. Based on a quick review of the Synopsis, a more detailed summary version of the document should be available (Detailed Summary) should be available. The Detailed Summary should be a more extensive summary view of the document (Power Read). For a 100 page document, the Detailed Summary should be about 10 to 20% of the original document size.

5. A form of Thematic Navigation should be available to assist in navigating the document. You should be able to use the Thematic DNA Signature of the document to navigate and locate just the information that is important to you. You should be able to drill down through the documents Major, Minor, and Subminor themes in order to locate just those paragraphs that contain what you are interested in and nothing else. This means narrowing our search for content that is important to us and removing that which is not without having to know a foreign language like Boolean!

6. As part of your Information Triage process, if you have now determined that you need to read the actual document you can simply access the original document (Entire Document) and it will launch with the appropriate application (Word, Adobe, Word Perfect, etc).


The benefits of speed reading are obvious: process more information faster and raise your comprehension level at the same time. But not everyone is adept at speed reading and learning the process takes time, patience, and lots of practice. Speed Reading software should help you accomplish similar results without having to learn how to speed read.

Information triage is a technique that allows you to save time by focusing on just the information that is relevant and important to you. Right Click and you are Speed Reading. It really has to be that simple!

Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?