Organizing Information

Posted Wednesday, December 28, 2022 by Sri.Tagged TOPIC
EDITING PHASE:gathering info...

Diego Forte's PARA Methodology

Part of his Second Brain system, PARA is a "universal system for organizing digital information" with four top level buckets or categories. It is a knowledge management system.

  • P = PROJECT - "a series of tasks linked to a goal with a deadline"
  • A = AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY - "a sphere of activity with a standard to be maintained over time"
  • R = RESOURCE - "a topic or theme of ongoing interest"
  • A = ARCHIVE - "inactive items from the other three categories"

Looking through this blog post on PARA, I think that the claim is that by using this methodology to make the different kinds of synthesis clear.

There are three auditional core principles that lower the cognitive load to make the system more frictionless:

  • Keep working memory to 4 elements or under (this is a common design trope)
  • Mirror task/project management (enforcing consistency in terms and presentation hierarchy)
  • Separate actionable from non-actionable (a mental deblocker that reminds me of stoicism)

The order of categories is from most actionable to least actionable, and is visually mirrored in the platform.

PARA is describes as being different from other systems because it is "a dynamic system, not a static one". He describes a static system as one that uses deep hierarchical knowledge structures with strict and intricate rules of engagement. He describes his approach as "constantly evolving flows of information between the four categories". He notes a different use case for each of the 12 flows of information.

from PROJECTS to  AREAS
                  RESOURCES
                  ARCHIVES

from AREAS to     PROJECTS
                  RESOURCES
                  ARCHIVES

from RESOURCES to PROJECTS
                  AREAS
                  ARCHIVES

from ARCHIVES to  PROJECTS
                  AREAS
                  RESOURCES            

Observations

  • There are sound design theory elements. I particularly like recognizing that there are different shades of actionable-ness and looking for ways to reduce the cognitive friction that comes from having a disorganized organization system without a clear distinction between the nature of different types of knowledge work.

  • I'm unclear whether the specific items actually move between PARA buckets and how he uses shared information. I am also wondering what helps maintain the continuity of action itself from day-to-day. I will have to watch a video and review his Second Brain material.