February 06, 2008

Information flow for ever-changing decisions

Changing_lanes For me, decision-making isn't just based on what information comes through to me, but also about the conversations around that information.

My contribution to the discussion was a request for email with no reply button, a way to get the information sent by Ned Luds in email out into the open for discussion by the rest of my team, group or community. My biggest problem with current aggregation type services such as Netvibes and Pageflakes is that they merely create new boxes for old stuff, emperors with new clothes. Even when presented with feeds and flows of information, people will always lower themselves to the common denominator of email if it is offered to them, despite the fact that they will also complain about being submerged in email.

Email with no reply button is maybe just a simplification for what I do when emails arrive at the moment. Often email isn't just for me, it's for someone or some people in my entourage or in my blog readership. I manually take it out and add it. Unfortunately, being Ned Luds, the original senders probably don't see the ensuing discussions on the blog.

We also talked about having the ability to temporarily switch off information when we see that it's just getting in the way, but might be useful 'someday, maybe'. Geographically-centred information, friends', contacts' and colleagues' information, team-mates' information, CEO's information... we can subscribe to it all and more, but we need a way to swiftly switch it off to aid our comparison analysis of information.

Ideally, of course, information to which you already subscribe should only come to you at the time you are seeking it for your decision. So we ended up designing one search box on a page into which you type your decision-making question, but instead of the response being random search, the returns are based on those people and that stuff to which you have chosen to subscribe.


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I love that picture. I can hear the guy's thought process - moving branches isn't my job, so....

It makes me wonder how often we're doing much the same thing: going around something that really ought to be moved, and that wouldn't take much effort at all to move.

Second the photo. Ewan, can I use it as well? I think it epitomizes many of the difficulties we face in the classroom today (I know that's not your topic of the post... sorry). So many of my students seek shortcuts and easy answers rather than demonstrate the never-ending search for knowledge that I try to encourage in each of them. [Sigh]

Hi Ewan,

I think that Pageflakes offers more than just a RSS reader. The fact that you can share and publish pages and that you can create as many groups as you want actually does allow for a better communication and team building. There are also widgets that facilitate communication such as the message board flake and other social flakes. I know that it's not perfect but it's a good start - looking forward to hearing from you. Feedback is always welcome and we are trying to add your ideas to our road map.


Thanks for your comment - the one thing I love about Pageflakes is the responsiveness of you guys!

This session was a hard one to do for all of us, because we were picking holes with the very products we all use and love, in an attempt to come up with something 'new'.

Our main concern was to find a way to turn all the noise of feeds into something more relevant. Often email is seen as more relevant because it's 'addressed to me', even if the message itself is not really *for* me. Therefore, despite its shortcomings, we all see our colleagues turn to one-to-one community more easily than one-to-many.

Pageflakes' sharing does begin to address this, but it would be great to have a way to help 'lead by reminding', by having email that can only be published (and therefore replied to or stored/shared) or deleted.

Just our badly thought out tuppence worth :-)

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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