Opening the channels

Since our initial phone conversation on 28th Feb, Peter Tolmie and I have Skyped twice more – we seem to have got into a pattern of speaking every four weeks or so. In our second conversation, Peter pointed out to me that my PAWDOC filing system was just another manifestation of my inclination to keep things – as amply demonstrated in the various journeys documented in He asked me what I thought I’d learnt from all these experiences, and I recounted a few things that immediately came to mind. Afterwards, however, I began to think that there were a great many more learnings dotted around the website. So I duly trawled through and recorded in a spreadsheet anything that looked like a finding. For good measure, I used another worksheet in the same spreadsheet to list all the requirements and findings specified in the paper about PAWDOC that was published in Behaviour & Information Technology (BIT) in 2001. I’ve given the spreadsheet to Peter and it will provide a base set of information for our investigations going forward.

My re-assessment of the BIT paper reminded me that one of the things I was thinking about when I wrote it was how one could use the key points in the documents you read to develop one’s knowledge. This idea stemmed from my practice of putting a line next to key points – or nuggets as I termed them – in documents. I remembered that I’d made a start on this work some 17 years ago by recording in a Mind Mapping programme the nuggets I found in books about the Pyramids etc. Peter and I discussed the possibility of my revisiting this material in a ‘Nugget Management’ journey sometime.

In our last Skype call on 25th April, Peter asked if I could keep an auto-ethnographic log of my keeping activities to provide us with more base material to draw on in our analysis activities. I duly created a spreadsheet with the headings listed below and am now recording all instances in which I make a specific effort to store a physical or digital artefact. The word ‘specific’ is used to exclude general keeping of things like email messages in email folders; and the word ‘artefact’ is used to explicitly require that a whole integral item is kept not just information removed from it like the name of a species from a plant label.

  • Ref No
  • Date
  • Item
  • How the instance arose
  • Reason for keeping
  • Initial actions and decisions made
  • Actions taken

Peter’s comment on my request for his views on my recording scheme was “This is great. It’s not how I would have done it myself, but that doesn’t matter at all. The main thing is that it works for you. Just different work practices because we come from different backgrounds. Nothing more.”; and I doubt that I, on my own, would have come up with the idea of a generalised keeping log. Herein are clues as to the sheer unique and precious value of collaboration with our fellows.

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