A World Without Email – Year 2, Weeks 34 to 36 (On Meaningfully Managing Streams of Content)

2 thoughts on “A World Without Email – Year 2, Weeks 34 to 36 (On Meaningfully Managing Streams of Content)”

  1. The idea of “I don’t know how to meaningfully manage streams of content” is something that each of us have worked through, but haven’t necessarily made explicit. With e-mail, some people read newest first, some read oldest first, some read urgent first.

    On social media, I’ve now come to the conclusion that I like to categorize my family, friends and colleagues, and read them according to their personal priority to me. Thus, I have collaborations on a feed to my reader every 15 minutes, my family gets checked every 2 hours, and colleagues get checked every 4 hours. (If someone needs to contact me immediately, they generally send me chat on instant messaging).

    I do find that the low priority list naturally gets longer. Sometimes, I look down there for variety, and sometimes the items go unread. Now and then, I’ll go through and clean out the basement … but I have to be in the mood to do that.

  2. As this article says, we don’t have solid best practices for managing the multiple channels. I think that will take a while to come especially given the shifts going on now in those channels and that what we really need are overarching methods to deal with change as well as the current multiplicity of channels. And it will take time for socio-ergonomics to mix with techno-ergonomics successfully.

    But what caught my attention especially is this comment in the blog, “Fragmentation is a healthy thing. It’s how our brain operates.” Well, yes and no. Our brains do categorize, this we know, but we also know (at least as of a few years ago, “Mind Brain Behavior” sciences do continue to make discoveries) the brain categorizes in some part to cut down the number of variables to deal with, as the brain can deal with n+/-2 items at a time (I’ve heard n as 7, as high as 9, as low as 5, but whatever it is, it’s a fairly low number). So as fragmentation stretches beyond the numbers and typologies we can handle in our heads at once (as assisted by tools, to be fair), then it is counter-productive.

    Further, the brain’s categorization and limits may or may not be “naturally” correlated with the fragmentation of sources, I think that’s a strong leap in the article and would want to see proof. I personally find the fragmentation effect to much, and, no, I don’t go to flickr and picasso for pictures except as people have sent links or as it comes up from a search engine. I have certain places I’m accustomed to and others I visit infrequently and others I’ve given up on or don’t have time to explore.

    I believe the answer lies in the ability to understand the semantics of these fragmented sites and to sensibly aggregate, search, and recommend. Otherwise, at least for me, but I posit for too many others to simply be a trivial audience, this fragmentation is not something embraceable in today’s way of working and is for now a flaw, not a desirable feature.

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