Tuesday, October 02, 2007

It's called a knowledge management system, allegedly

There is a pile on my desk at work, a nice, neat pile of papers that I have decided I need to read. Some are reports, some are guidelines, some are entire journals or trade rags, but most are reprints from genetics journals that are more-or-less relevant to what I do all day.

Once in a while, I will take one or more of these and put them in my briefcase for reading on the bus to and from home (or work, depending how you look at it). When they've been read, they get filed appropriately, given to someone else who might be interested, or recycled. Sometimes, they don't get read right away and become ratty and dog-eared. Occasionally, they get put back in the pile. Even more occasionally, they sit around in the briefcase for so long that they're just not relevant any more, and then I can happily toss them in the blue box. Which doesn't help me to learn anything, but certainly contributes to decreasing the amount of paper I'm carrying around. Ignore it until it goes away - the quintessentially Canadian solution.

The pile of papers, as you may guess, expands continuously. It never gets smaller, except by one or two papers every now and then, and tends to experience a net gain of two or three every week. It's been there for months, growing deeper and deeper as time goes by.

When I'm feeling like the office needs tidying, the pile gets straightened up, moved to a more aesthetically pleasing location, and then goes on existing just like it did before. Sometimes when I do this, it winks at me, as if to say "I'm still here, and you know it. Thanks for the new spot in the sun." It makes sense that it's developing sentience - after all, as each week passes, the amount of knowledge contained in the pile increases. In another year or two, it'll be humming to itself and reading Wikipedia when I'm off doing something else. Give it a few millennia, and it'll pretty much be running the joint.

So there you have it. Me and my pile of papers, sharing an office and slowly evolving towards achieving the sum total of all human knowledge. Or at least those specific bits that might be useful for someone like me. I suppose I could make a concerted effort to read everything and make the pile disappear, but I know it would be a losing battle, and I haven't the heart anyway. I kind of like it when it winks at me.


john.g. said...

FIRST!! Want to borrow some matches?

Dawn said...

Its cousin lives on my desk. It can hum but it can't make coffee yet.

Bob said...

I've only started proper lectures this week and already there is a pile of folders, letters, random sheets of paper, forms, flyers and cheese sandwiches growing on my desk.

nlwuzjj - the only thing my pile is able to do at the moment

Ricardipus said...

It's the stuff growing *on* the pile of cheese sandwiches I'd be most worried about.

Just this week? What on earth have you been doing?

Bob said...

Actually, I only started uni last Monday, but as last week was officially Freshers' Week, no-one did any lectures or work. If they'd tried, i don't think anyone would have attended anyway!

wonderferret said...

I ruthlessly prune my pile of paper, documents et al. I am the stalinist dictator of my desktop.

Nothing older than 4 weeks !