David’s first principle is to filter information on the way out, not on the way in. I’m still working on it, masticating it, there’s some work involved, but I like the early flavours I can taste. So I thought I’d share with you the kind of stuff that went through my head when I saw that sentence and read what followed. Humour me.
1. In order to filter on the way in, we need to have filters, filters which can act as anchors and frames and thereby corrupt the flow of information. We’ve learnt a lot about anchors and frames and their effect on predilections and prejudices and decision-making. With David’s first principle, we reduce the risk of this bias entering our classification processes too early.
2. I think it was economist Mihaly PolanyiÂ who talked about things that we know we know, things that we know we don’t know and things that we don’t know we don’t know. Again, filtering on the way in prevents us gathering the things that we don’t know we don’t know.
3. The act of filtering is itself considered necessary to solve a scale problem. We can’t process infinite volumes of things. But maybe now it’s okay to be a digital squirrel, given the trends in the costs of storage. [Sometimes I wonder why we ever delete things, since we can now store snapshots every time something changes. We need never throw away information]. Filtering on the way out becomes something that happens in a natural-selection way, based on people using some element of information, tagging it, collaboratively filtering it.
4. I like the idea (proposed by David) of there being no need to throw stuff away. You just have to not-find it. If you can’t find it you might as well have thrown it away, and if it all costs the same then who cares? Reminds me of the Douglas Adams definition of flying: jumping off a tall building and missing.
5. Collecting information this way is fine, but it has no value unless someone tends to it, someone looks after it. So maybe I shouldn’t be thinking ‘not-find’ and instead I should find ways of incentivising people to clean up their information. Maybe there is a Silent Spring for information. I somehow like thinking of bad DRM and proprietary tools, methods, structures and standards as weeds that strangle the life out of good information. But then I would, wouldn’t I? Walled gardens have the worst sort of weeds.
Just musing. Comments welcome.