March 08, 2006
cdent on effective reading

Chris has some good thoughts on effective reading (in his case, of the multiple input sources from wiki and mailing venues) which warrant further shared thinking.

A few thoughts from the foggy morning...

First, I've observed Chris in his data gather and reply mode, and it is an impressive state - it looks, from the outside, rather zen, focused on brain and finger movement. This is in no small part due to Chris' familliarity with his tools, their configuration, and the context of the data they present.

Second, Chris' system ties back into the generally good practice of gather, process and organize prior to action. This allows the scaffolding of full context to inform your work proceeding from that point, rather than a constant diffing of actions based on new input that hasn't concretized itself into idea.

Chris' system depends on accurate archival (and implicitly, retrieval) of information. This may be one of the hardest tools to build into such systems for shared knowledge work given our current toolset; I've participated in some of the spaces I believe Chris is referring to, and it does work there - with the appropriate upfront knowledge.

One question that does arise (and which would be most difficult for me to achieve) - Chris proposes that this processing at least (and perhaps work as well - but this may be a structural niggle in his piece) happens in absence of textual RTC (in his or my case, IRC, but in other's worlds IM or other interruptive RTC tools). I suspect there are similar best practices to be developed there, such as:

  • silence alerting in all but notable cases
  • if your tool supports it, implement keyword filtering
  • prune your attention list regularly
  • learn to lurk,
  • learn when to shut down

In the past Chris has been a text-based MUA user (pine, iirc). I've been working on revising my system for personal infoflow (vs work) of late to support more streamlined approaches to info management, most recently by developing more rules to apply via Mail Act-On to improve the keyboardable nature of as I process (including automating handoff to kGTD for followup). Future goals may include tagging for archivablility, but I'm trying to move the system slowly.

Now if only I could get the same for Outlook 2003....

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Posted by esinclai at March 08, 2006 06:56 AM |

I feel like we're having a bona-fide blogosphere moment here.

I have IRC going pretty much all the time, except for the start of the day: What I meant by "Do these things without paying attention to IRC" is exactly that: Don't let the buzzing and whirring of IRC distract you from the reading phase. Do the reading, get it done, and then go into "doing stuff" mode. During doing stuff mode, IRC might prove to be a useful resource.

Posted by: Chris Dent on March 8, 2006 01:39 PM
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