Q: Information overload: how do you keep track?

29 Sep 2008 - 10:37am
6 years ago
14 replies
840 reads
kimbieler
2007

There is so much great information and new concepts and exciting
theories on this list, and links to same. My feeble brain can't keep up.

How do I keep track of the stuff I want to remember? In a format where
I can remember WHY I wanted to remember it in the first place? I feel
like I could spend my life tagging in delicious.com and still never
keep up.

What do the rest of you do?

-- Kim

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
Kim Bieler Graphic Design
www.kbgd.com
Office: 301-588-8555
Mobile: 240-476-3129
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Comments

29 Sep 2008 - 10:57am
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

>
> How do I keep track of the stuff I want to remember? In a format where I
> can remember WHY I wanted to remember it in the first place? I feel like I
> could spend my life tagging in delicious.com and still never keep up.
>
> What do the rest of you do?

I block other things out of my memory, like where the nearest Walgreens is,
my wife's work number, and whether or not I booked the hotel room for my
next trip. This frees me up to remember all sorts of new information. Of
course, it also drives my wife crazy.

Results may vary.

-r-

29 Sep 2008 - 11:20am
Jack L. Moffett
2005

Great answer, Robert! I forwarded that on to MY wife. She'll get a
kick out of it too. :)

Kim,

I use Yojimbo to keep any articles or examples that I want to make
sure I have a copy of. I tag things in it religiously, including
marking whether or not I've actually read the item. It has a really
good web archive feature, which I use to grab things such as
interactive data visualizations from the New York Times and slide
shows from BuisnessWeek.

Anything that I only want to keep a reference to, I'll bookmark in
Safari. These bookmarks are categorized.

And I subscribe to blogs using NetNewsWire, a NewsGator client that
syncs between my office, home, and iPhone.

That's pretty much my system as it stands now.

Best,
Jack

On Sep 29, 2008, at 12:57 PM, Robert Hoekman Jr wrote:
> I block other things out of my memory, like where the nearest
> Walgreens is,
> my wife's work number, and whether or not I booked the hotel room
> for my
> next trip. This frees me up to remember all sorts of new
> information. Of
> course, it also drives my wife crazy.
>
> Results may vary.
>

Jack L. Moffett
Interaction Designer
inmedius
412.459.0310 x219
http://www.inmedius.com

If there's anything more annoying
than a machine that won't do what you want,
it's a machine that won't do what you want
and has been programmed to behave
as though it likes you.

- Don Norman

29 Sep 2008 - 11:28am
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

www.laterloop.com is a great tool for keeping track of things you want to
read online. Doesn't help with keeping them long-term, but it's great for
managing a list of things to read next.
-r-

29 Sep 2008 - 11:38am
Anonymous

Good question Kim,
for me personally I use Google Gadget's Enhanced Bookmarks.
I literally have hundreds of bookmarks all categorized and classified as to
where and how I want them.

http://www.google.ca/ig/directory?hl=en&url=gadgets.joshuakent.com/bookmarks/bookmarks.xml

I also uploaded a screen shot for you to take a look at my browser with the
various tabs and bookmarks.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/30668660@N06/2898691977/sizes/l/

Sometimes I have to reorganize but I love this system. No matter where I go
they're always available.
I personally do not do too much tagging (by choice). The more I tag thing
the more I tend to forget.
I find that remembering where things are keeps my Jedi mind sharp.

What do the rest of you do?
>

29 Sep 2008 - 11:48am
bminihan
2007

I have simplified Robert's Rule (tm) to this: I no longer have the
capacity to remember specific dates (personal or business) more than
a week into the future, unless it's something I have to do, or
unless it follows a predictable pattern (immediate family birthdays &
my anniversary are pretty much it).

As with Robert, this frees me up from plenty of engagements and
requires no less than herculean efforts by my wife and coworkers to
get me to go places. I call it evolution. My wife calls it
dementia.

As for the glut of information out there, I absorb information
randomly and allow natural selection to weed out the least useful
data. The best ideas survive and find a home somewhere down the road
where they're most likely to do some good.

I'm also religious about my email and haven't left work with unread
mail going on 10-15 years now. If it's not in my email then I can't
promise when I'll have it done. I also subscribe to a few tech
journals and watch what people send me for tidbits.

Like Galapagos and the duck-billed platypus, natural selection is
neither perfect nor pretty. I still remember my business amex card
from 9 years ago, but can't remember what I'm doing next wednesday
(although I think it's important).

-- Bryan

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33656

29 Sep 2008 - 12:04pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

>
> As for the glut of information out there, I absorb information
> randomly and allow natural selection to weed out the least useful
> data. The best ideas survive and find a home somewhere down the road
> where they're most likely to do some good.
>

Seconded. (Nice explanation, too!)

It helps if you have a really good memory for trivial facts, because that
ability helps you retain useful information, too. For example, I once knew a
lot of trivial information about indie flicks. Directors, filmographies for
obscure character actors, drinking games around spotting the famous guy in
an unknown movie, catch phrases used in every movie by the same director ...
you name it. Then God invented IMDB, and my superpower became useless. I
redirected my energy toward design. Now, I can remember just about
everything I've read, done, heard, talked about with others, and so on, and
it's actually helpful in my career.

Again, though, I can't remember what I did last weekend.

-r-

29 Sep 2008 - 1:28pm
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

Kim Bieler asked:

> There is so much great information and new concepts and exciting theories
> on this list, and links to same. My feeble brain can't keep up.
>
> How do I keep track of the stuff I want to remember? In a format where I
> can remember WHY I wanted to remember it in the first place? I feel like I
> could spend my life tagging in delicious.com and still never keep up.
>
> What do the rest of you do?
>

I use gmail tags to mark interesting conversations in 10 categories. Plus I
star interesting posts within conversation as I read.

To retrieve useful info I use my diminishing recall abilities in conjunction
with gmail search within "IxD list" tag (this particular tag is applied
automatically to all mail from the list).

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is design of time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

29 Sep 2008 - 1:44pm
Janna
2008

>
> I have to be grateful to Robert and Bryan. I was feeling oh so disorganized
> by reading the first few posts, and thought, "really, people spend that much
> time tracking information?" I'm also of the - I don't know what I did this
> weekend, but I'm sure I had fun - class.

Recently, it seems, that information changes so quickly, by the time I save
it and return to it even a few months later,things have changed. I rely a
lot on search engines to show me the newest information relevant to my needs
and yes, my colleagues to forward things and I get a few specialty magazines
(I still love to read and thumb through paper) to tell me about what's next
that I might not think to Google.

Most newsgroups, I'm on several, archive their discussion threads. I hope
when I do have a need, I can go back and look at the threads to find my
answers.

Lastly, I use my Gmail Inbox as a repository for ALL things great and small.
Some poor server somewhere is housing my 10,000 emails. *sigh*, it's
paperless, but power sucking nevertheless.
--
Janna C. Kimel, JK Consulting
Career: Design Research/User Experience
Volunteer: Co Vice-Chair OR-IDSA
Blogging: http://seenheardnoticed.blogspot.com/
Calling: m 503.200.0099 o 503-200-2715
Motto: Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

29 Sep 2008 - 3:14pm
Scott Berkun
2008

My strategy is the opposite of most tech-savvy people I know. I avoid the
problem of overload by turning things off. I really do not need to know of
every comment, every theory, every post that is out there. A handful of
good, interesting ideas a week is more than enough (If it's a good idea, or
an interesting thought, I'll need a fair amount of time to digest it or try
it out). Just because it's out there doesn't mean I need to consume it.
Information is addictive and most of us are junkies.

If I add a new feed to track, I delete an old one. If I join a mailing list,
I drop an old one. I limit the amount of time "for information" and keep it
filled only with the best sources I've found. If I find some amazing thing,
I force myself to drop the least good thing I had in my list.

>From my experience I'm convinced we need way less information than we think.
More information in 2008 rarely solves a problem. Pick a few good diverse
sources and you'll get the good stuff. Trying to be comprehensive is insane
and suicidal. And anyway, if you're a creator your time is better spent
sketching, drawing, thinking, and experimenting, rather than skimming,
scanning, marking, and tracking.

By never letting my intake get too high, I never need to worry about
designing systems for managing information overload. This strategy can be
applied with any tool, any browser, any email client and any job.

-Scott

Scott Berkun
www.scottberkun.com

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Kim
Bieler
Sent: Monday, September 29, 2008 8:38 AM
To: discuss at ixda.org list
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Q: Information overload: how do you keep track?

There is so much great information and new concepts and exciting theories on
this list, and links to same. My feeble brain can't keep up.

How do I keep track of the stuff I want to remember? In a format where I can
remember WHY I wanted to remember it in the first place? I feel like I could
spend my life tagging in delicious.com and still never keep up.

29 Sep 2008 - 5:48pm
Dave Malouf
2005

I sorta am in Scott's boat but slightly differently:

1. Use the network. Whatever that means to you. For me it is twitter
and Shared GReader links. My other network for links to stuff is
Facebook.

2. Do it NOW, or let it pass into the ether. For almost all of my
keeping up with the designers of the world, about 75% of it is on a
"now" basis. Yes, this can be very disruptive, but I have a very
ADD style of work/life balance anyway, so disruptions actually help
me focus. It's odd I know, but it works for me.

3. My RSS feeds. I have many more than Scott that I subscribe to, but
I regularly browse TITLES and then only read say 5-10 posts a day (at
most).

4. IxDA - Despite what a lot of people think, I don't read every
message. I browse titles and jump in head first into the topics that
seem fun, or where I can learn a few things here and there, or where
I feel I can contribute a lot (or just cause trouble --- TROLL!!!)

5. Email - Since I stopped getting the IxDA list on email, my inbox
is a lot less hectic. Most SIGIA, IAI, CHI messages get the title
browsed and head into the ether or archive (thank you GMail).

6. See #2.

7. Going back to stuff is really hard to do, but I do do it. Usually
PDF articles that I can print out and take on the bus/subway.

8. Create sit-down time. This is something new I'm doing, where I
take my 1/2 hour before bed and read, draw, or something else.

That's it!

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33656

29 Sep 2008 - 5:50pm
Dave Malouf
2005

1 more thing. If a feed is worth holding on to, for reading or
processing (responding to, etc.), I'll email the link to myself.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33656

29 Sep 2008 - 9:39pm
M S
2006

To mark stuff I want to read online I use Read it later extension for
FF (really-really great extension).

About a year ago I started to add lots of feeds about design, ux &
webdev to GReader. Later on I realized that it takes too much time
(almost like a second job) to keep up with everything new. So after
that I started to clean it up. Now I'm down to about 50-70 new posts
from blogs everyday. I usually just scan through their text trying to
find something really interesting marking with stars everything I want
to give second thought later on.

I wish google would add new sorting to their GReader -- sort by
"interest". There are many possible ways to do it so I'm looking
forward to it :P

For bookmarks I use delicious extension which helps me to add new good
link ot interesting resource in couple clicks. Before that I used
Google Bookmarks, but gave up because of inability to integrate it
nicely with my browser.

And as for IxDA -- I gave up trying to read all and everything.
Usually I just come, delete new Job & Event messages and then scan
headers looking for interesting stuff.

Another interesting question for me is -- how do you fight distraction
at work place? Usually I try to disable all tray notifications, email
notifications and so on so it wont interrupt me in the middle of task.
Same with co-workers, if I'm in the middle of something I ask to wait
unless it's emergency of some sort.
--
Maxim

29 Sep 2008 - 10:18pm
Jeff Howard
2004

Hi Kim,

I think the answer has to do with filters. Not necessarily
technological filters--although they have their place--but editorial
filters. As designers I think our impulse is to filter things for ourselves,
but as others have mentioned, and as you're discovering,
the shear volume of information in the world is overwhelming.

Instead, find sources who have earned your trust to act as filters.
People who can wade through the torrent of information and clarify
it; reshape it into a coherent form. Something that is still a little
raw and unpolished, but digested enough not to waste your time.

On the web, these people are easy to find. They're mavens. Just look
for blogs on very specific topics. For example, I think that a design
blog is less valuable than a typography blog or a motion graphics
blog for this purpose. But even the most esoteric blogs and mailing
lists aren't enough by themselves. They provide a snack, but not a
nourishing meal. Supplement your filters with magazines on topics of
interest and throw in the occasional book. Actually, reverse that
order. It's easy to fill up on blogs to the point where you don't
have room for the more thoughtful, deeper articles. Use blogs as a
supplement; not the main course.

The quality of your filters makes all the difference in the coherence
of your world. Don't try to keep track of everything; it's a losing
battle. There's a natural equilibrium. If your filters are in place
and you're still drowning, reduce the number of incoming filters
until you reach the point where your world starts to make sense.

// jeff

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33656

29 Sep 2008 - 8:40pm
j.scot
2008

Hey Kim -

Sometimes I'll manually recreate stuff (or compile stuff from
different sources into one file) -- and in doing so learn more about
the material itself. Seems far too time consuming, but I'll only do it
-- for example -- when I'm staying late at the office to avoid sitting
in traffic, or.. while I'm in a holding pattern on all the more
important stuff. I then save the file into a meticulously maintained
directory structure --- which is free

I've been thinking of building a database of info on one topic in
particular so that I can exercise my DB/Filemaker skills, learn the
material, AND think critically about keywords on the subject (which
helps me understand it better)---all in one fell swoop. The even
cooler thing is that it gets better with age, so long as I keep it up
to date.

Cheers!
Scot

On Sep 29, 2008, at 9:37 AM, Kim Bieler wrote:

There is so much great information and new concepts and exciting
theories on this list, and links to same. My feeble brain can't keep up.

How do I keep track of the stuff I want to remember? In a format where
I can remember WHY I wanted to remember it in the first place? I feel
like I could spend my life tagging in delicious.com and still never
keep up.

What do the rest of you do?

-- Kim

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
Kim Bieler Graphic Design
www.kbgd.com
Office: 301-588-8555
Mobile: 240-476-3129
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

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