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The unbooking of information

​The book as a medium has served us well, but now information wants to break free from pages and run wild in new and exciting formats! And we should let it.

We are really primitive in the way we handle information at this point in time. We have notes, emails, docs, messages… But these are very crude formats, the variety of information types is much more vast.

Here’s a non-definitive list of the types of information we encounter:

  • Meeting notes

  • Idea notes

  • Communication media

  • Task definition

  • Task instruction

  • Process information

  • Reminders

  • Location information

  • Time information

  • People information

  • Stories

  • Manuals and how-tos

  • Entertainement information

  • Numerical data

  • Graphical data

  • Reference materials

  • Tested hypotheses/Scientific findings

  • Current status information

  • Art

  • Subconscious information

  • Confirmation information

  • Trend information

  • Ambient information

  • Meta information

  • Description information

We have all these types of information and we try to make them into a doc, a note, or some other completely arbitrary unit of attention.

How can we then accurately store all this variety? Well, there is no tool out there that would recognize at least most of these information types. So we have to use workarounds and glue together our own information system.

I don’t have a solution to this problem, but I believe it’s important to understand it when we are flooded with bytes all day long. We deal with information in book-ish formats — docs, websites, notes… But these aren’t interactive, or real-time, or even useful. They are still the remnants of the past. Voice, VR, AR, Jarvis-like systems are the future that will enable us to deal with information much more precisely and effectively.

What to do then? I have files and notes and emails and tasks, and constantly organize them and reorganize them. I try to characterize information according to the purpose it serves. And I hope it won’t be as much work in the future as it is.

For now, let’s pay more attention to the type of information we encounter.

Is is a meeting note? Put it before the next meeting on the calendar. Is is a file you need to review? Put it on your tablet before commute to do that. Is it a reference material? Put it within reach of where you do work.

Discern the kind of information you’re dealing with, and make sure it doesn’t disappear into the digital labyrinth of a file system or the depths of an email inbox.