Tuesday, December 22, 2009


As I found myself ripping out of the New York Times, Paul Samuelson's lengthy obituary for future reference,  I found myself forced to confront old habits and my laggard adaptation of new technologies.  After all I am a creature of habit, and I continue to derive comfort from perusing the NY Times in its concrete fully delivered at my doorstep version.  I also enjoy the choices that the editors have made on story placement, including the choice of break in its continuity that forces me  put my interest into pause while I determine the level of my interest to either immediately flip further into the newspaper to resume reading or to glance about the rest of the page for further opening paragraphs before continuing on.

I've had an online subscription to the NYTimes for over a decade, and it's true that when my time is limited it's an easy way to get a glance at the news...but in spite of their offers to permit me to customize my home page or the digest that I receive daily to include topics of interest, I haven't.  I enjoy the serendipity of reading the paper as laid out by the editors.  Why you ask, especially if you've been to my home and noticed that I'm reluctant to throw away the paper until I've had a chance to at least peruse it, which means it inevitably piles up and creates a backlog, similar in size to the unread New Yorkers, that are also available to me online. 

In preparation for my family's descent I was forced to clear space and thus pack away my fully arrayed scribbles, magazines opened to specific articles and books that I've been reading as part of my ongoing research.  I organize globally very reluctantly, once put away or separated neatly I find it difficult to re-access. The ubiquity of new tools and technologies on the web offer solutions and repositories simple enough to use permitting both easy retrieval, tagging or reminders as to the contents' topics, and most advantageous ability to share these with others.

When I first explored delicious and digg, I honestly didn't fully get a good feel for its future value.  In part, because my scepticism exceeded the perceived value of the benefits.  After all how many times had I relied on a technology solution only to have it fully displaced and rendered obsolete and all the infromation lost. For example, I'm not talking about storing data on floppy disks though I could, I'm talking about diskettes that stored some very valuable code that I'll never be able to read in part because I didn't realize that the disk itself would in time be unreadable.  I didn't want to risk storing tags and precisous articles for future reference in a website that would disappear? 

Well Delicious seems to have had some stability and the benefits are now clearly flattening my skepticism.  I've been tagging much more actively and what's even better is having my own personal library at my fingertips.   Though the NYTimes prefers that you use their own storage files for articles, I routinely move them to delicious as I prefer one repository rather than multiples.  I'm not likely to give up tearing articles out of the paper, but you can bet that I'll also be tagging them.  I've also recognized that for sharing with various teams articles of interest, emailing them is ridiculous.  I have embraced using wikis and ushering as many of my ad hoc network committees to utilize a shared site.  I was able to instantly index using my tags on delicious to find articles of interest to share on collaboration and post them on a wiki site for further consideration of the group.  Using this shared workspace will allow us to keep track of comments and decisions without having to keep a stack of emails.  The technology is now got my attention and I'm doing what I can to give it more traction as ultimately it will save me from having to re-organize later. 

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