Juliet? Othello? Were they both just bad at personal information management?

Information is the stuff of communication. Approaches involving assessments of information value and the effectiveness of communication are now widespread from biology (e.g., protein synthesis, genetics) to physics[i]. In a human context, failures of communication may be technical in nature as when we “break up” in a cell phone call. But many failures to communicate are usefully regarded, instead, as failures of personal information management.

Taking back our information — even as we leave our information where it is

This is the second in a series of posts on the theme of “Taking back our information”. The first post in this series had the subtitle: “Let’s get out of the export/import business & build places of our own for digital information”

Taking back our information: Let’s get out of the export/import business & build places of our own for digital information.

Note: this is the first in a series of posts on the theme of “Taking back our information.” The phrase “our information” can mean different things which, in turn, suggest different meanings of “taking back”. Our information – your information, my information, personal information – can be the stuff we keep on our hard drives, in physical filing cabinets and in various software applications and services.

My PIM, Part I: Keeping and organizing to find again later.

I post this series of posts on my practice of personal information management (PIM) in the spirit of “My Personal Information Management” ( posts by Ben Bederson and also in the spirit of similar posts by students in the reading seminar I am teaching in the spring quarter of 2012, “The Future of Personal Information Management” (

There is no management of knowledge except through a management of information.

Note to reader: this is the 3rd of 5 posts beginning with the post titled, ""No Knowledge but through Information"

Information as thing; knowledge is not

...information would appear to play a pivotal role in efforts to understand both data and knowledge. In the Zins report, definitions for “data” and “information”, though distinct, frequently overlap. Likewise, definitions for “information” and “knowledge” overlap. For no participant, however, is there any evidence for an overlap between or confusion among the terms “data” and “knowledge”.

No Knowledge but through Information

Why would we settle for data when we can have information? Or information when we can have knowledge? Discussions often reflect an implicit ordering of these terms: data < information < knowledge, i.e., information trumps data and knowledge trumps information.

Can stories help us to organize and make sense of our information?

While I was having dinner with friends the other evening I was again impressed by a simple observation: People love to tell stories.
The topic of conversation shifted throughout the evening – first the weather (the Seattle area had an unusual two week plus period of cold and snow before Christmas), then eating disorders, then a discussion of teachers and parents at the elementary school that our children attend. And so on.

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