A personal journey in information management (contd.)
What does an information manager need to do?
That's what it's all about, after all. Of course, Topicscape had to provide word search and phrase search. It can look in:
- Topic names (node names)
- occurrence names / file names
- descriptions, author, source
- file content:
- simple internal search
- this can integrate with Google Desktop Search if installed
- this can integrate with Windows Desktop if installed
- concept searches: If you are using Topicscape, you will have organized the material according to your own hierarchy of concepts. Then when you want to search and cannot remember the words, you can start as high up as you need to, and drill down according to the concepts you have established. Multiple parents increase the likelihood of finding an item in this type of search.
- flagging topics for quick, visual recognition
- coloring files according to your own scheme, again for quickly spotting what you want
- marking occurrences 'finished with' pushes them down the list and turns them grey.
- flags, colors and 'finished with' can be taken into account in search
- It's not just files
- Metadata can usefully be added to files
- live links if they are web pages
- We want to be able to gather web pages on the fly and add them easily to Topicscape
- it will make MHT files (web archives) in one drag
- these will save in the background while you continue surfing and searching
- We want to be able to place extracts from documents (Word, Excel, etc.) as Occurrences of a Topic
- Topicscape automatically adds a wrapper and inside that it will show name, source and give a choice of a simple copy, an embedded OLE object or a linked OLE object.
- We want somewhere to keep past material that should no longer be needed, but we are reluctant to delete. For that Topicscape has Topicscape Orphans - an unobtrusive area of the landscape where archive material is kept - still in the original hierarchy if required. This will be excluded from searches, unless you ask to see results from Topicscape Orphans.
What else do we need when organizing information?
Avoiding the “pending tray” trap
I suppose most of us have folders of material that we want to move to a useful place once we have time.
While Topicscape doesn't avoid this need, it does make it much easier to grab information that will be organized later.
Having highly visible landscapes into which we can drop things at the right point provides motivation by making the job more satisfying as we see the information landscape building up.
There is an additional tool: Topicscape Box. This is an information parking space that allows files to be collected handily, accept addition of descriptions and other metadata to files, web pages and notes, just like Topicscape, and when the items in the Box are dragged to Topicscape, any metadata that's there comes with them.