If we could design an optimum way of working with information- and documentation. Approach this with an open mind, how would it look? When we leave the paradigms we built up for the past century behind, we get a good picture of what is needed and what is possible. In many systems today one or more of the principles below are missing; Leaving the information unable to fulfill its potential. I’m trying to design a way of working that respects them all, allowing optimal use of information.
Information is managed/controlled by its owner
Every piece of information or every subject has an owner. It is also managed by its owner. The owner has control over every aspect of this information.
Without an owner, everyone has the ability to mould and change it. To efficiently and reliably manage information, ownership needs to be determined and complied with.
Information is accessible for everyone (who has access to it)
Information has some degrees of accessibility:
- Public – accessible for everyone,
- Shared – accessible for a distinct group,
- Private – only accessible for the owner(s).
Accessibility of information for specific persons or systems is a very important aspect that has to be taken care of. And the management on access should always be applied. In our current way of working, there is no restriction on using information: Documents can be spread and copied freely. It is expected of every employee that he/she will apply the restrictions regarding secrecy and distribution. It should, at all times, be clear for whom certain information is meant so it can be shared and/or protected. Even when it is shared beyond the borders of its confinements.
Information is closest to singular as possible
When changing and using information, the source needs to be separated from the use of it. In the source, the information is created and edited. At usage, the information is viewed. This simplifies management, traceability and reuse of information. The source of the information should be kept in as few places as possible to maximize manageability. This creates clarity, simplifies management and stimulates reuse.
Information is related to eachother quickly… in an unlimited fashion
In 1998, Tim Berners-Lee hits the nail on the head with this quote: “The Web works though anyone being allowed to say anything about anything.”. All information can, in principle, be related to all other information. The key is in naming the relation, so we know how piece of information X is related to piece of information Y. The problem is that we do not always know exactly what the relation is, while we do want to make it. And when we do know, we want to be able to specify that. Without having to technically change a database or program.
So, we should be able to quickly and infinitely link information, whether this information is structured or not.
Optimal use of information, it’s possible
For optimal use of information, we need to create a way of working that can supply all four principles:
- Information is managed/controlled by its owner
- Information is accessible for everyone (who has access to it)
- Information is closest to singular as possible
- Information is related to eachother quickly… in an unlimited fashion
History has left us with a big challenge here: For over a century we write documents, pass them on to the next person who adds his knowledge and writes a new document, et cetera. Looking at what means and needs we have today, there must be a more efficient, optimal way to use and utilize information.
“All information that is needed to develop, grow and maintain a company, need to form one whole”
A company or enterprise must form one consistent whole to effectively execute its function. Therefore, it is imperative that the company has a consistent, continuous process and system to manage, grow and maintain information and knowledge. And this does not only go for companies…
Saying something must change is easy. The challenge is in describing and building a way of working that will leave behind the imperfections we work with today. A way of working that allows information to (only) be managed by its owner, where everyone is free to add (un)structured information, where all information can be related to eachother and where information has a low redundancy.
I’m incorporating this challenge into my work where I can.