Thursday, September 2

KFTF — Keeping Found Things Found Project (memory mapping!)

I love it. As boingboing puts it, " interesting project called Keeping Found Things Found, an effort to develop innovative ways to manage information stored digitally and on dead trees."

This looks to be a tremendous source for new perspectives on information architecture.

KFTF: Keeping Found Things Found Project Website

Below is an excerpt from the KFTF project page on keeping found things found on the internet.
The goal of this study is to understand better the ways in which people manage information for subsequent re-access and re-use. The study focuses on the management of information found on the Word Wide Web.  Follow-on studies will look at similar problems and practices of personal information management for other information types including email and personal files (electronic and paper-based).

The classic problem of information retrieval, simply put, is to help people find the relatively small number of things they are looking for (books, articles, web pages, CDs, etc.) from a very large set of possibilities.  This classic problem has been studied in many variations and has been addressed through a rich diversity of information retrieval tools and techniques.

A follow-on problem also exists which has received relatively less study:  Once found, how are things organized for re-access and re-use later on?  What can be done to avoid the need to repeat the entire search process?  We refer to this as the problem of Keeping Found Things Found.  The current study addresses this problem in the context of World Wide Web use.  The study focuses on use of the Web by managers, researchers, librarians and other information specialists.  But it is expected that the results of the study will be relevant to most users of the Web.
Two things, a) we've all had a teacher tell us that in order to comit something to memory we all have to "see it, hear it, speak it, write it". The basic gist of book marks is ridiculous, command-D simply files away a page so quickly and easy that there is NO effort at all. We simply don't even have to process the information and we don't have to comit it to a set location as we do when we write it. This makes bookmarks impossibly useless. In fact I haven't used bookmarks to commit anything to memory or save anything in over 5 years. I use my bookmark bar in safari as a very efficient navigation system for those things I access most frequently, this has nothing to do with commiting to memory.

b) Commiting things to memory and finding them again is best when done in a sloppy process, which involves multiple ways of processing and very consciously storing the information in a specific place and time for later retrieval. Ways I suggest doing this are a variety of technbiques including, blogging about it, emailing a friend about it, just writing a short blurb and emailing it to yourself, or IM someone about it. I use these techniques in multiple ways to creat value, commit to memory, and create discourse on the things that interest me. They allow me to share my discoveries with the right people, or publicaly, or keep them to myself but comit why they interested me to memory and or paper for searching later. These are not highly evolved clasification techniques, they are messy, but I find I have a much higher degree of retention and I can rarely if ever loose bits of information, articles or ideas because I can easily remember which channels I used to store them in (blog, email, IM) and recall those articles with a quick and dirty search. Only occasionally do I analyze and categorize my open reading as I see patterns emerging.

Professional reading and work are a different matter. Professional research is much more focused and requires much more structure and categorization. It is much easier to categorize when you're researching specific subject matter.

In summary, keep it dirty people.

Ah, I forgot one point. All these archival means from IM, to blogging, to email all store things chronologically. Time is an excellent processfor storage and recall. It's often easier to remember when you saw something or when you talked about it than where you put it or some specific keywords with which you codified it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am happy to announce the release of two books relating to personal information management (PIM). The first book, “Keeping Found Things Found”, is meant to be for a broader audience of us folks who are involved in a daily struggle to keep on top (rather than buried by) our information. How can we manage more effectively? How can we build a world of information that helps us to better realize our goals and dreams in the physical world?

The second book, “Personal Information Management” with William Jones and Jaime Teevan as editors, is oriented more strongly towards an academic audience and features many of the same contributing authors as participated in a very popular special issue on PIM in the Communications of the ACM (January of 2006).
-- William Jones