(Saying that I'll create a blog series strains credibility given how sparse postings have became in this, my fifth personal blog. My use of Twitter for micro-blogging, planned use of Posterous for mini-blogging, and the need to earn a living has made long posts unlikely.)
For example, here are some information products I created or used in the last few weeks:
- Shopping list for a grocery run, divided by retailer. Created with a fountain pen on a Moleskine.
- Data from exercise, entered into Apple Numbers. The late great Peter Drucker used to say that if you don't measure it you can't manage it. So, in order to manage exercise, I keep tabs on exactly how much I'm stuck on sticking points at the gym.
- Some tweets, created either on the website or on Twitteriffic for iPod Touch.
- This post, edited on TextWrangler.
- Large number of emails, processed in Inbox Zero fashion, mostly by deleting them.
- Large number of RSS feeds, forum postings, print media gone online, and web pages skimmed. Some read. A few copied and archived for future reference
- Commissioned work, in TextWrangler.
- My own papers, in LaTeX format.
- Academic papers in PDF. No, not "PDF format." The F in PDF is for Format.
- Data set for an academic paper, analyzed on my computer using Stata. I could have done the analysis in R, but since I have started this particular project on Stata, there was no reason not to conclude it there.
- Data set for another academic paper, processed on my computer using a program I wrote in R. (The difference between data processing and data analysis: when I'm analyzing, I spend most time thinking and then issue a command to test an hypothesis. When I'm processing data, I write the program, then leave it alone to run on the data.)
- Several nonfiction, non-work books on dead tree that I've been rereading at the end of the day.
- A Kindle book, read on the iPod Touch Kindle app. (My first Kindle book, purchased as a test.)
- Some reference math, economics, statistics, and technical business books.
- Several photos taken with my old trusty Canon 5MP camera.
- Several Keynote presentation masters, which I keep up to date even when I'm not using them. I updated my Marketing Analytics and Decision-Making and Consumer Behavior masters.
- Several InDesign handout masters, on the same topics and for the same reason as the presentation masters.
- Many MP3s and AACs of what is called in the retail channels "classical music."
- A few podcasts, heard while doing household chores, walking, BARTing, or waiting.
- A few chapters of an Audible audiobook. When out for a walk or on a grocery run.
- Some CDs of what is called in the retail channels "classical music."
- Several DVDs, mostly courtesy of Netflix and a couple from my private collection.
- The Snow Leopard update for my laptop.
First, work versus entertainment: At the most basic level, I can get by without the entertainment part (unhappily), but the work is how I fund my lavish lifestyle. Some of the work material is confidential and might have costly implications for me if its security was compromised.
A second dimension is what is necessarily in hard-drive or disc files (like data that I get to process or analyze) versus data that is conveniently placed in hard-drive or disc files. I used "hard drive" instead of "digital" because a printed book is a digital product, just not an electronic one. This second difference highlights the trade-off one makes between convenience on one side and privacy and longevity (think music CDs vs JAZ drives) on the other.
A third dimension is connectivity requirements. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I don't need a MiFi or even an iPhone to get connected easily, but for other areas always-on internet may be a very important consideration. Or to plan ahead for outages: for example, having off-line reading is important for those of us who travel a lot. Enter Instapaper and Evernote.
Identifying the dimensions of a decision problem is just a first step towards solution. This first post has but scratched the surface of what is involved in managing a digital life. I intend to elaborate on these dimensions (and others that may appear) and on other aspects of managing a digital life in this blog series, tagged MMDL.
My marketing training shows through, though: these are not dimensions of the technologies used for living a digital life -- they are the dimensions (some of the dimensions, at least) of the lifestyle. (Maybe I can take this series at some point and use if for teaching or exec-ed...)