Think of receiving data as a triage process, where you add to patterns or start new ones.
Everybody Does Research
Professionals in many industries expend a lot of effort researching issues and analyzing data they have obtained.
The internet makes it possible for anyone to research any issue and collect up the information they find.
This fire hose of incoming data can be so overwhelming that people are usually limited by their ability
to organize and store data as they find and create it.
Traditional hierarchical storage systems are very badly suited for storing the type of random information you
find when searching through on-line or off-line data.
Both professional and consumer email, bookmark, note and file management systems have never been designed to
store, organize, find and display the volumes and complexity of unstructured information now available to anyone.
Triage Data Into Patterns
If you triage data in real time as it comes in, you can acquire much larger amounts of data and not
risk missing something important to your research.
A small piece of information may seem to be related to your research but you may not yet see how it fits into
a larger pattern.
Data triage requires the ability to:
Objects Change Complexity as You Do Research
- Record incoming data exactly "as is" before you know its real importance.
- Create a saved Object to represent real or abstract things that are relevant to your research.
- Associate incoming data to Objects and other data.
- Create collectors to associate groups of related Objects and data.
- Save small or large pieces of information simply because they seem to be related to what you seeking.
- Quickly identify a piece of information you already have.
- Delete irrelevant data quickly without affecting any data you have collected.
- Create Associations between anything you think may help show the larger patterns.
- Keep automatic metadata and history for everything you have done.
- Remove a data Object and all its Associations to the trash or restore from the trash if later needed.
When you identify something new, you should be able to just use that incoming note, bookmark, email or file as
an anchor to represent a new concept.
Say for example you never heard of Thermodynamics and you saw the word online, you could just create a note
named Thermodynamics and associate it to a list of interesting words you found. You could just as well have
come across a website, email or file about Thermodynamics and use that to create an Object to anchor the new issue.
This triage approach gets the concept into your database quickly and lets you associate it to whatever made
you interested in this new idea you just heard of, before you forget why you were interested in it.
If you have no further interest in the issue, it would remain as a simple Object in that form until you need it
or eventually delete it. However, you likely collected the data because it interested you and can become a seed of
an idea that grows in your database.
A simple note Object can grow in complexity as you learn more about an issue:
- You can add attributes to a note to give it structure.
- A note can be converted to a bookmark, email of file while keeping all of its Associations and attributes.
- A note may be converted to a folder to collect up new data about the issue.
- A collector may grow to contain any combination of notes, bookmarks, emails files and views.
- An email, bookmark or file can be used to collect up information to explain it.
- A folder can always be decomposed into a hierarchy of folders to further explain a concept.
- Views of a folder can be created to display information about an issue from one or more perspectives.
- Indexes of information across the database can be created to make access to an issue easier.
- Very large subjects may be moved to their own database.
Every new piece of interesting information you add to a pattern may:
Your Pattern Database Becomes Your Personal Search Engine
- Fit the existing pattern and not duplicate something you already know.
- Fit the pattern, but also fit some new pattern you just realized.
- Not fit any existing pattern, but be interesting enough to start a new pattern.
- Show you that the pattern is more complex than you thought.
- Not seem to fit the pattern for reasons you cannot yet figure out.
Once you have grown your personal research pattern database for a while, it will become a better place to start new research
that just wandering the internet or local library.
As you use your database each day to lookup information, you should create indexes to find common information
more quickly. You eventually can jump to the index for a group of related issues faster than searching the entire database.
If you come across a new word or idea that does not exist in your personal research pattern database, you immediately know
it is truly new to you.
If new data does exist in your database, you must decide if growing your saved patterns about the issue are really needed.
Does the new data tell you anything more about the data pattern than you already know?
You may need to backfill your personal database with things you know so that it accurately reflects your full knowledge.
After maintaining a personal pattern database for many years, you will have no memory of most of the notes,
bookmarks, emails, files, collectors and views you have created.
You are effectively searching the knowledge of the person you once were.