[linux-elitists] memex on a stick?

Aaron Burt aaron at bavariati.org
Mon Sep 20 11:40:44 PDT 2010

(Sorry, long email, I get worked up...)
On Mon, Sep 20, 2010 at 09:30:39AM -0700, Don Marti wrote:
> ...Executive email style to deal with people who can't
> use their MUAs very well?"

That's a nice way of phrasing it.  Even rants get hackneyed after a while.

> It's a repository for documents and notes, under user
> control.  Instead of thinking, "oh, I read that on the
> Internet somewhere, let me go back out and get it,"
> you think, "I read that in connnection with a certain
> project, so I'll look at my project notes and get it
> and related documents."

Ah, rather like the automagickal hybrid of a document management system*,
mind-mapper, ticket-tracker, wiki, news-clipper and recipe database that's
been haunting my brane for decades?  R.A. MacAvoy's "Tea with the Black
Dragon" and the marvelous Memex in the Laundry novels didn't help.

> The key functionality is tagging and linking:

Tagging and linking go well with the contextual nature of wetware memory.

However, IMO, streamlined, easy capture is the most important part of an
information-retrieval system, because if you don't capture it, you lose it.

Manually tagging and linking at capture time is good (the info is fresh in
your head), but if it makes you say, "screw it", the system dies.

Automatic or computer-assisted tagging can help a lot, but at some point,
you fall back on keyword searches because it's nearly good enough, and
keywords are sorta like tags, and sorta contextual.

Oddly enough I was just looking at media gallery software.  Lifebox has a
subtly different model to most: photos/media are imported as "rolls",
preserving the context of where/when/how they were captured, and then
curated into "albums" by topic/subject/whatever.  Like most media
galleries, there's tagging/commenting/metadata.  Cross-breed with
Oxfam's ResourceSpace (for universal media support and collaboration) and
you might get nearly there.

* DMSes are one of those great technologies where a little computation and
good design can allow computers to make a big difference for folks.  Sadly,
they have remained expensive niche products because of import, integration
and training hassles.  So they live on with WordPerfect, in law offices.

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