Joining the docs

A lot of time and energy has gone into thinking about how text-based information should be structured and organised at the technical level. That’s not a bad thing, but risks giving too little attention to the fact that a vital reason for storing information is to be able to find it and use it – and to connect it with related information.

Footnote on paper

The words we use matter. The way we frame a question constrains the way we think about it and so the range of possible answers we may find. There is skeuomorphism of words as well as of objects.

Paper, documents and files are all words which have acquired the potential to mislead as we move to more digital and less paper-focused ways of working.

Thinking on paper

We used to know where to put things if we thought we might want to find them again later. It was called filing. Filing got less fashionable in government about 15 years ago, not coincidentally at about the time that paper was getting increasingly displaced.

The way we think about and manage work and information has changed a lot since then, but to a surprising extent the idea of paper has survived much longer than the reality – all too often, we organise information as if it were on paper, even when it never has been and there is no expectation that it ever will be.

Story and history

This post is mainly about The Imitation Game but was written before I had actually seen it. So it’s not a film review in any normal sense. Having since watched the film, I have added a short update at the end, which isn’t a film review either. What’s the difference between history and a good […]

Making connections

The web is a failed information management system. What is odd about that statement is not that the attempt has failed – I don’t think I have ever heard of any other fate for an information management system – but that the fact of the attempt has been so completely forgotten. Information is everywhere, of […]

A bus company with a train set

Quick question: what’s the dominant form of public transport in London? And an irresistible second quick question: what is wrong with this picture? We will come back to the second question, but if your answer to the first was the tube, you can be forgiven. That’s the most distinctive, most high profile part of what […]

History, weak

It’s history week at the Cabinet Office, a series of internal events designed to remind the current generation of policy makers both that there is always something to learn from history and that their work will become history in its turn. It being Cabinet Office, there are ways of emphasising history not open to every […]

The Guardian pwned my blog

Update:  Since posting this this morning, I have had two people contact me from the Guardian – one in a comment to this post and one by email.  As a result, I am reassured that what I experienced was a bug they are keen to fix rather than indifference to the context in which Guardian material […]