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Firewall for ideas?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

I am beginning to think I need some sort of conceptual firewall to separate ideas from the mass of other digital information I collect. I have lots of ideas, some clear and many more vague and fuzzy, and I dutifully record them as they come to me. However, I don't seem to have a review mechanism that puts these ideas back in front of me at appropriate times. I do come across some of them while searching for other information I need in the course of work, but I inevitably tend to ignore them at that time because I am not in "idea review" mode; I'm just trying to get work done.

Idea may also be too specific a term: essentially I'm talking about any non-action oriented thinking that I do. This is probably the most valuable type of thinking, but it gets lost amid the fray of details that make up the majority of working life.

It would be nice to have a process to make sure that when I am doing more abstract thinking, I can get a list of related thoughts I've already had on a topic. Of course, any information management program with search can help in this regard, but what I'm getting at is that I think it needs to be unbundled from all the other information: a dedicated "thoughts" database.

I'm a data aggregator by nature and I want to shovel diverse types of information into one master data store. In part this is because I believe unforeseen connections can emerge this way. But I wonder if some high level segmentation wouldn't be more beneficial.

Posted by murt at 1:53 PM


Blogger mike said...
What type of format do you record these ideas? I think your idea of a "thoughts" database is something that many of us would benefit from, I hope to hear more about it.
2/24/2007 10:33 PM  

Blogger murt said...
Right now, I'm using a BrainStorm model for ideas. I think managing conceptual ideas requires software that can show relationships between diverse elements. Since I'm not a visual thinker, the language-centric BrainStorm is ideal for me. For visual thinkers, I'd recommend mind mapping software (FreeMind is a free one).

Check out this explanation of namesakes to see how BrainStorm links together information automatically if the same element appears in multiple contexts.

Wiki software is another option for people who think in text.

Note: BrainStorm is Windows-only; FreeMind is cross-platform.
3/04/2007 1:43 PM  

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