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Simple Aha's: The Elephant in The Room

Asad Quraishi's comment exposes the elephant in the room that none of us really want to talk about. Asad said "It's no joke, people need to be trained in this — how to store notes for easy search and retrieval."

I'll go one step further. Not just storing notes. Who among us was ever formally taught to how to scan information? Or how to synthesize volumes into summaries without losing meaning and robustness? Or how to communicate complicated ideas simply and crisply? Or how to assess and prioritize multiple resource demands using multiple information sources and modes of communication? At least from my research and education data from sources such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, not very many of us. And yet look at the skills we are required to use and keep improving every day! If corporate HR/Training and our school systems aren't helping us with this, what's that mean to how we develop ourselves?

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  • Corinne Machado

    Dear Bill,
    Your questions seem to indicate that what we need is access to librarians. Librarians are the ones who have expertise in these areas. What can we do to create more visibility for their skills?

    Corinne Machado

  • Jason Shao

    A phrase used by the article's author that I particularly enjoy is the " attention economy."? It seems to me that at the root is a valid concern, a growing feeling that email and IM's aren't important enough to take time to craft thoughts, or even to apply proper spelling and grammar. Instant Messaging in particular as a medium seems to have spawned an attitude that communications need to be sent in real time, without preparation, thought, or proofreading.

    Considering the number of problems with wrong dates or details given, instructions that are not clear and need an endless stream of corrections, retractions, and updates. This loss of time, energy, and productivity can be combined with the image of professionalism that you convey, to someone who may not even have ever met you in person.

    Increased usage of the inverted pyramid style would seem to address both these points rather handily.

    Because the pyramid is structured by importance and relevance, it forces evaluation of the content you're producing

    Since the most important details are up front, the odds of people missing important items is significantly decreased.

  • Bill Jensen

    Great point, Mike. (My son's currently working on his college application essays. We're having nightly discussions that somewhat resemble your suggestion.)

    But, unfortunately, getting everyone on the planet with access to you to write journalistically just ain't gonna happen. For any of us. So the only alternative is to adapt/refine/improve what's within our control -- our own scanning habits and skills.

  • Mike


    FWIW, personally miss the strict journalistic style taught too many decades ago to feel comfortable mentioning. A *short* summary (not an attention grabber) lasting from one sentence to maybe 3. Following paragraph:: another summary, listing 2 or 3 supporting topics discussed. Following paragraphs, summarize each topic listed in second...

    A sort of informational tree that wouldn't cure or change the problem necessarily, but just might make it easier filtering.