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Month: October 2011

who the liquid information environment is for

The liquid information environment is for knowledge workers; that is, anyone who has knowledge and information as a significant work medium. The people working to make our world better, safer, more harmonious and sustainable are knowledge workers. We must support their work with better (and, in my mind) more liquid, tools and environments and we must also make them aware of these better systems and give them the confidence so they become liquid in their work.

The job of a knowledge worker is not to memorize what others have written, but to come up with informed, creative solutions and produce new, useful, accessible knowledge. This requires creative thought and free movement through information. This requires the tools and environment to be more liquid.

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who this book is for

This book is for you, who want to work to make digital environments more useful in helping us work and solve problems together, either as a user or designer.

I only have pieces of advice for the liquid information systems designer:

1) Take ownership of the problem, not the solution. Focus on the actual use. What does the user need to accomplish, not just in detail but also in terms of the bigger picture? Try not to hold on to pet solutions.

2) Assume you are wrong. Always. Learn what you can, question it, talk to people in different fields, never forgetting actual users. Question your assumptions and their assumptions.

The goal is to help knowledge workers understand the world and communicate what they learn clearly. That’s really the heart of it.

The liquid approach will hopefully be useful to those who design Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and other knowledge augmentation systems for large companies where the whole systems are integrated and controlled. However, half of workers are employed by small companies (as defined by companies employing under 500 people in the United States (web.sba.gov/faqs) and these people cannot be expected to have the support of a knowledge work focused IT department. Innovation happens at the edge. Be the edge.

“The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
Marcel Proust

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goal and direction

The goal of this book is to stimulate understanding of what it means to live in a fully liquid information environment and how we (software developers, teachers and users) can improve the tools and the environment itself and make  it more liquid.

I’m sure there is a lot more to the idea of liquid information than I can see but nevertheless I feel it’s important to start somewhere.

Liquid information is not very useful without a direction. The direction that I feel is most useful, important and urgent is aligned with Doug Engelbart’s idea of augmenting our intellect to help us solve problems:

“By augmenting human intellect we mean increasing the capability of a man to approach a complex problem situation, to gain comprehension to suit his particular needs, and to derive solutions to problems.”
Doug Engelbart Augmenting Human Intellect 1962

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