Friday, April 27, 2007
I mentioned Mark Hurst's Bit Literacy back a few weeks ago; now that I've finished the book, I'd like to comment a bit more.
Bit Literacy provides advice for those overwhelmed by the digital data in their lives: e-mail messages, web sites, Word files, PowerPoint files, digital photos, etc. The title makes the book seem oriented to a technical audience, but I think Mark was actually writing for the non-technical computer user who is willing to become a bit more technical in order to also become more productive.
This was a mixed bag of a book. Sometimes I found myself totally agreeing with Mark's comments; other times I didn't agree at all. (One example: Mark's idea of the requirements for a to-do list seemed quite rigid, and don't mesh with what I personally need in my own to-do list.)
But there was lots of stuff I appreciated in this book; I'll mention just a few. I've already written about Mark's concept of a media diet.
Another favorite is his description of the to-do list of choice for many people: Paper. Usually many pieces of paper. Often painfully many. Small, fluorescent squares crowding the sides of computer monitors, cluttering whole workspaces; scribbled receipts and cocktail napkins, stuffed into pockets, posted on refrigerator doors, thrown into piles.
And another quote that got me grinning: There's no better way to guarantee that you'll need a revision than to name something "final". Inevitably, the following versions become "final report revised.doc" and "final report revised USE THIS VERSION.doc".
And I was thrilled to learn about the tools that he calls "bit levers." These tools let you define shortcuts for anything you type - in any program - on a repetitive basis. I have a number of things like this, including:
- My standard posting to craigslist
- The html code for anchor text
- A group of e-mail messages used in my role as a Freecycle community moderator
- The phrase "National Association of Professional Organizers - San Francisco Bay Area Chapter"
Now I won't have to retype the text (or pull up a template file and then cut & paste); once I've installed the right tool, I'll be able to type a simple abbreviation that I define, and the abbreviation with be replaced with the appropriate text. I'm planning to install a "bit lever" program - one of the two Mark recommends - on my Mac this weekend.