This website covers knowledge management, personal effectiveness, theory of constraints, amongst other topics. Opinions expressed here are strictly those of the owner, Jack Vinson, and those of the commenters.

Culture and tools competing for overload

James Dellow has an item on Being Ruthless with one's information.  He talks a little about his process, but then at the end (in an update even), he links to a discussion by Matt Moore on Stop! information overload & organisational pathology that goes into his (and others) thinking on the causes behind this problem.

I particularly like Matt's thoughts and further links on the discussion of the cultural / personality reasons for information overload.  I particularly like the reference to control freaks, who love to have information at their hands, just for the heck of it.  Wouldn't it be so much better if we could be much more judicious about filtering and using information that is truly relevant to our work?

Ruthless_threadingThe other reason I mention all this is that I've recently jumped back to SharpReader as my news aggregator for one key feature: threading (I've opined on this before).  Here's a screen shot of the thread of this particular conversation (click for full-size).  James' article is at the top with its lone link to Matt's article.  But Matt's is a source of links to several related articles, including many of his own.  (Merlin also has a "email" tag link that slurps up about a dozen of his email-tagged articles.)  Now, I have most of these subscriptions already, so I would see the articles anyway.  But the beauty of threading is that I can read all the articles together to get their context much more quickly, all without having to jump to a separate window.  I would see more-or-less the same kind of threading if I started at any one of these articles (James, Matt, Merlin, Stowe, etc.).  But without threading, I might not realize that several people have linked to the Stanley Bing piece.  I note that SharpReader isn't perfect at threading: it misses Ross Dawson's article on information overload, which would thread in another of my articles too.

On top of the threading, SharpReader has better support for nested folders to help me organize my reading at any level of river-of-news that I'd like.  I can read one feed, one group of feeds, a group-of-groups, ... all the way up to all feeds at once.  Very nice.  I know that other readers offer this, but after using GreatNews, which only allows one layer of grouping, this is a nice feature to have.

My point with these two features is that it helps me deal with the information overload that I read about in the original post by James.  With the grouping, I can decide how much / little of my feeds to read and which groups are relevant today.  And with the threading, I can see a set of related articles and read them all at once, even if they are published at many different times and locations.  Of course, there needs to be vigilance that I don't let the amount of information raise me to a new level of overload.  That was James' original point about "being ruthless."

Interesting LinkedIn questions for 5 Sept 2007

The Art of Building Virtual Communities