Dirk Gently

July 17, 2009 at 6:53 pm | Posted in Research, Social Networks | 8 Comments
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Around 25 years ago – early in my consulting career, my then Managing Director informed me that I was the company’s answer to Dirk Gently.  When I asked him what he meant, he just said “Read the book”  (Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams).  It seems that the eponymous hero believes in “the fundamental connectedness of all things”.  That struck me as a pretty good description of my methods and has been my touchstone ever since.  Please note though that Dirk Gently specialises in lost cats and messy divorces.  I have opted not to mirror his career that closely!

So, fast forward to the present, where I find myself about to leave a global software company after nearly 10 years and to launch myself into the unknown as an independent consultant.  In the corporate world, I was used to presenting the company’s message, assembled from a dizzying array of Sharepoint portals and wikis.  Now, I have to find another means of collecting new scraps of information, manipulating them to form an opinion and then disseminating them to anyone who may be interested.

Collecting is quite simple; configure Outlook to collect RSS feeds for a selection of blogs (Bruce Schneier, Peter Cochrane, David Lacey …) to supplement the news from Silicon.com.  I also like to keep up with one or two podcasts, most notably the British Computer Society’s “Whitelist”.  This has proven to be the perfect mission for an internet radio I bought from Aldi a while back.  I just use the Reciva portal to configure the podcasts I’m interested in and then I can listen while doing “other things” (Mrs V1951 doesn’t quite get the whole “work from home” thing).

The only component of my information management strategy I had to spend money on was Microsoft OneNote 2007 – and it was worth every penny.  I love being able to send web pages, emails, whatever to OneNote for sorting and classifying later.  Incidentally, I just heard that there’s to be an iPhone app for OneNote.  There’ll be a product web site for this in August – watch this space for more details.

Finally, I have to disseminate my conclusions, through a blog – and WordPress fits the bill nicely – and later through a website and maybe white papers.  Of course, I need to let people know that I’ve posted something and that’s where the social networks come in.  I’m a long-time fan of LinkedIn and I’m just starting to experiment with Twitter.  Sending a tweet to point to a new blog entry seems a good starting point.  Of course, if I use the Twhirl client, I can have ping.fm update multiple locations at once, for example updating LinkedIn status (I don’t use Facebook).

So, that’s how I’m doing things for now, but  I really have to get on with designing and building a web site.  Time to get on with some keyword analysis.  I like to think that Dirk Gently would approve.


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