David Seah asked people how they process books. Here’s what I commented:
I read a _lot_ of books, and I frequently refer other people to books that match their interests. When I do so, I love being able to point people to the exact page or quote they should check out, or to send them a summary of the key points in each book. I also enjoy giving books away.
Detailed book notes and a good workflow make this easy and convenient.
ACQUISITION: I often go on reading sprints, checking out lots of books on one topic from the library. Reading many books on one area allows me to read them faster, because many books contain fluff and things I’ve already read in other books. All I’m doing when I’m scanning a non-fiction book is looking for the nuggets of information or insight that are unique to that book.
READING: I keep track of pages with interesting passages on them. Sometimes, if I’m diligent, I use slips of paper as bookmarks. Most of the times, I dogear the lower corner of the page, folding the small dogear towards the side of the page I want to remember, or double-folding the corner if I like both sides of the page. Again, I’m just scanning for “the good stuff.”
CAPTURE: After I finish a stack of books, I scan relevant passages into my computer. I usually do this on Sundays or on days before my books are due. I review each page to see whether I still want to capture the information on it, and then I place the book face-down on a flatbed scanner and scan passages with the 600 dpi line-art setting required by OCR. All of the images get saved into a directory. Sometimes I’ll dictate passages to my computer instead, using Dragon NaturallySpeaking to transcribe.
TRANSCRIPTION: I use the free and open source Tesseract optical character recognition program. It’s pretty darn good. I’ve written a batch file that processes all of my pending images, filing finished images in one directory and text in the other.
ORGANIZATION: When I find free time, I review the transcribed text, narrowing it down to just the passages I wanted, and organizing items into more of an outline. I make any TODO items for follow-up actions, too. I also take that time to think of who else might be interested in a book or excerpts from it, and I recommend the book to those people. (I picked up this tip from Love is the Killer App – handy!) All of these notes go into a somewhat structured text file on my hard disk, where quotes are indexed by books and page numbers, and tagged by topic. When I remember, I write down the ISBN and other edition information as well.
REVIEW: Every so often, I flip through random book notes. Handy way to refresh my memory and think of other connections the books remind me to make.
I’ve started copying my book notes into a custom book-notes management system I’m building. That book-notes management system also automatically builds my reading history based on the books I’ve checked out (handy because I’m too lazy to update sites like LibraryThing ;) ), and eventually it’ll help me see which books are in which stage of processing.
One thing that would make this even better would be for me to figure out what to do during book-scanning so that I don’t get distracted but I still use that time productively. ;) My hands are occupied because I’m scanning books, and I find that if I’m reading something else (either online or offline), I get distracted and I forget to finish scanning my books. Maybe listening to great music or to a podcast will do the trick. =)
Another thing that would make this process even better would be to hook it into a web-based book review system, which I may build into that system I’m putting together. That way, I can easily share my book recommendations.
The book “How to Read a Book” has many tips on choosing the appropriate approach for books and processing them effectively.
OCR works really well for me. Try it out!
Thanks to Michael Woloszynowicz for typing up these notes from my talk last night!
- What is KM?
- Lots of value if you can share the knowledge in peoples heads with others
- Finding the person that is best suited for a project
- Enterprise 2.0
- Like web 2.0 but geared towards companies
- Utilizes user technologies e.g. Blogs, Wikis, etc.
- Why care about enterprise 2.0
- Differentiate yourself, give you an advantage
- Broaden your network
- Number of knowledge issues that companies are struggling with
- Companies don’t know what to do
- You will be in the position to make a difference
- Companies will turn to younger generations to help
- Enterprise KM is not about the tools
- Tools change
- It’s the changes they bring that is important
- Knowledge is power, 10 areas of questions
- What is knowledge (document? person? interaction?)
- Can take a document centric view
- But you can’t write down everything
- This is where people come in, find the right person
- Not what you know but who you know
- Sometimes you need the combination of the people and the situation
- When looking at a paper, you need to know what view the author is taking
- What do you do with knowledge? Hoard? Share?
- Knowledge is power
- Knowledge is something to be kept secret or controlled
- You can charge lots of money for it
- Another view is that you can share it, and that is power too
- Why only limit your knowledge to a few people
- By sharing it you become an expert
- People come to you looking for advice, this gives you job security
- People will also come to you with ideas
- Differences between hoarding and sharing mindset is important
- The success of your web 2.0 initiative depends on it
- Some people do not want to share
- What’s in it for you?
- In the short term it can help you to find the information you need and help you practices communication skills
- You get scale, people know about you
- Formal vs. Informal
- Sometimes input involves filling out set fields
- Things such as Wikipedia are much more informal
- Newer technologies are much more informal then older ones
- Get the information out quickly and refine over time
- There are advantages and disadvantages to this
- Some people like structure
- Others like the freedom and not be constrained
- Constraints may stymie information sharing
- Informality has a lot of value
- You can refer back to your old information
- You can pass it to others
- People can find it through searches
- By making it easier to contribute knowledge, you get more of it
- Relating to formal vs. informal is who has the information? Experts? Novices?
- Sometimes experts are not the best resource
- Experts can leave out steps because it is second nature to them
- Really what you may need is someone that knows more than you
- Novices can teach you the pitfalls and issues in language you understand
- Enterprise 2.0 is about everyone contributing what they learn along the way
- People often don’t contribute because they feel they are not an expert
- But by learning, others can learn from you
- For example, have a new hire record their learning
- Expert can check it to make sure they are on the right path
- Other can then learn from it
- Experts and novices can get into conflict
- Novices that share information become go to people and eventually become experts themselves
- Mentoring can help to prevent this
- One tool vs. many tools
- Some people wait to try things only when others are using them while others want to be early adopters
- Late adopters and early adopters are sometimes in conflict
- Too many tools lead to integration issues
- What happens if a tool goes down?
- In enterprise 2.0 it pays to introduce one thing at a time and choose the tools carefully
- Start with your business needs and find the best tool to solve the problem you are working on
- Managing or facilitating?
- One of the key things about enterprise 2.0 is collaboration
- It’s not about submitting a document and closing the process
- Capture what people are doing and learning along the way
- Facilitation of collaboration
- Inside or outside?
- Companies used to feel that they are the experts in what they do
- Hire other experts and give them tools to collaborate
- Now people outside an organization are collaborating
- Opens up lots of opportunities for companies
- Can pose problems to the general public for a reward
- When you can tap the knowledge of those outside the organization you can get more variety and better results
- E.g. ideastorm
- Enterprise 2.0 blurs the boundaries between inside and outside
- Adoption is not always easy
- Culture has a lot to do with it
- How do you deal with these problems?
- You have to tell people what the personal benefit is
- If there are no benefits, people won’t participate
- Monetary incentive is not the greatest approach
- Appeal to other aspects
- External recognition? Self fulfilment?
- Make it part of the way people work
- Otherwise there is no time to input information after the fact
- Innovators and early adopters are not a great example, find people in the middle to serve as ambassadors
- Metrics and ROI
- How do you quantify these initiatives? What do you measure?
- Do you measure time savings?
- Maybe time saved isn’t used to the companies gain
- A lot of the value is intangible
- Measure savings on travel or other costs
- Gather metrics on search results
- Before and after studies
- What is the percentage of people using it
- Metrics you choose will influence user behaviour towards the things you want to gain
- What next?
- A lot of value is gained by trying it out
- This can be outside of work, things that you are passionate about
So here’s my first experiment with publishing a picture-in-picture recording of one of presentations – specifically, the presentation I did last night.
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Slides and class notes
Planning the talk
- The audio from the webcam turned out to be much clearer than Camtasia Studio’s recording, because Camtasia picked up only the audio from the computer’s microphone. I need to fiddle with the settings some more to get Camtasia to listen only to the webcam. The audio was better than the audio on my voice recorder, too. That’s probably because my voice recorder was on the table behind me, and I didn’t have a lapel microphone. If I add a belt clip to my voice recorder and dig up that lapel mic I bought some time ago, that would be a good experiment.
- I remembered to set everything up! Hooray! Voice recorder, webcam, and Camtasia recording of slides.
- Splicing the slides and the webcam video was easy, although I kept running into weird problems – my silenced audio still kept showing up in the finished video. I deleted the Camtasia recording of my presentation and manually inserted my slides.
- I lowered the video quality to 3 frames per second. It’s a bit jerky, but it does shave off some 20MB of disk usage. What do you think? I could also try rerecording this (or recording a different talk) with a close-up webcam video.
- I’m hosting everything on my own site, as I haven’t found a good place to put things like this yet.
- I spoke slower this time. Occasionally sipping water reminded me to slow down and breathe. This is good.
- I enjoyed answering and asking questions. If I were to do this talk again, I’d probably trim this down to five or seven items and then have more of a discussion.
- It was a good idea to get someone to promise to take notes and share them. Yay! I should build up a store of things to give away.
- My computer was at stage left, so I could read the screen without looking back.
- I suspect I’m right-biased in terms of eye contact, so I can make more of a conscious effort to look to the left. I did make sure to make eye contact with folks there some of the time.
- My left mouse click is still broken (it’s software, not hardware; very strange) and my wireless mouse ran out of battery. Fortunately, I figured out how to use Microsoft Windows MouseKeys, so I could still set up everything I needed to set up before the presentation.
- W- was there for transportation and moral support. I’m so lucky!
To make this even better next time, I can:
- Put the webcam on stage right instead of stage left, for a more natural orientation when viewing the video and slides. This could be a challenge, because projecting stations are usually on stage left.
- Offer other incentives for people to take notes and share them
- Figure out better hosting for the video
- Experiment with different video and audio settings
- Start saving up for a digital camcorder?
Kaizen – relentless improvement! =)