As far as interaction design / technology trends go, this is interesting to me on several levels.
We’re well past the point where getting data and information is a challenge. The challenge is no longer in getting it but what to do with it. Triage becomes more and more necessary when there is more data/info than resources/time to process it. I’ve set up triage processes in the major areas where things come at me and compete for limited resources. Somewhat similar to David Allen’s GTD, there’s usually a scan/capture stage, filter/prioritize stage then actual working stage to turn inputs into outputs.
Books: Go into a backlog if worth looking at (Goodreads, Calibre, simple document). Quick skim of table of contents and actual content to decide whether to take a deep dive cover to cover, x-ray just the most important chapters or bail on entirely given the opportunity cost of using time better. Study things if they pass that gate, extracting out important ideas into some kind of information product under continuous development.
Articles/Feeds: Clicked into a backlog (the wonderful Instapaper for cross device access and readability). Then a similar assessment whether worth a conscientious read, quick skim for takeaways or a relative waste of time on closer inspection. Output either to master documents or points of expression/sharing (other people, here, Twitter, etc). I’ve said before that I think the main currency of the web and knowledge economies are links / sharing.
Music: Believe it or not I have a backlog here too. Stuff I haven’t heard at all or in the past year, decision point to keep or delete is based on whether I care if I ever hear something again or not.
Email: Similar type of triage process as the interaction design of Mailbox seems built for. Urgent / important things to deal with now, less urgent / important things to deal with later, things neither urgent / important get baleeted.
Feature Backogs & Bugs: Obviously for product leaders, this has always been an area where it’s painfully obvious there is more to do than time or resources to do it. So you lead and prioritize to focus the team and get the best return on resources. Like achieving a strategic goal or improving upon a metric.
Goals & Tasks: The most important way I’ve found to filter and pare down endless to do lists is to vet everything against a higher level goal. Otherwise reorganizing sock drawers gets the same priority as answering the meaning of life (42). You get those days where you knock off one thing after another continuously, but at the end of the day don’t feel like anything meaningful was accomplished. So rather than the capture everything mentality of GTD I think it’s important to capture only what’s important, letalone do only what’s important. Further, have some exclusion criteria – a decision point why something is a waste of time so there is a heuristic for handling future cases. Works a treat for team and product backlogs as well. “We are not in that business.”
People: Don’t need to start pruning and sorting people yet 🙂 Although one set of buckets might be “good during the bad”, “inconsequential during the bad” and “bad during the bad”. Jokes aside, in person I try to make sure I don’t treat people like I’ve got some better use of my time than interacting with them. But our exposure to social data has obviously increased outside of face time interactions – this is why there are lists in Facebook, Twitter, Google+, you can unsubscribe/ignore/block Farmville, etc. We’ve got more access to social information that in previous times would have required quite a lot of effort to obtain and maintain, if not being altogether impossible for the people that maintain friend lists of 5000 people. Dunbar’s number comes to mind.
Besides the triage theme, the other interesting aspect of this to me is the use of gestures in the interaction design. Was speaking to someone the other day that the physical movements and gestures we can now use to do things have a level of engagement that is just way beyond clicking on a mouse or using a keyboard to interact with abstract objects.
There is something massively satisfying about swiping to delete an email. The trend of gamification hits on something bigger and more important than just chucking birds against poorly fortified pigs. There is an opportunity to engage aspects of physical, emotional and neural self in design and places that have so far been starved of that level of interaction.
Part of the appeal of social (insert app here) might be layer of personal connection overlaid on top of activities that might not have otherwise had it. We’re still meat bags of mostly water whose hardware is geared towards interacting with a physical world and tribes of fellow meat/water bags.
Lastly, I find it interesting how people use their mobile devices as a triage / filtering point, leaving heavy work for a conventional computing setup. I had noticed this in my own usage patterns – every one says that once they get a tablet, it becomes their primary choice for web / content consumption, but I have yet to meet anyone who really wants to bang out War & Peace on one.
I had noticed most mornings I do prefer my phone or tablet to triage incoming information. For the purpose of interaction design we need both an overview/fast parse and detailed view on available information. Zoom out to the bigger picture and drill down where we want to get into the weeds. Helps explain why people find themselves incessantly checking their devices wherever they’re at. We’ve got so much coming at us these days that we need technology solutions and practical strategies to stay on top of it all. I think this is a wonderful opportunity to build remarkable things.