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How to Make Sense of Any Mess

Book Notes

I had Abby Covert's book, How to Make Sense of Any Mess, open in one of my tabs since it was published. I thought about reading it, lingered on buying it, and finally just purchased it last week. It arrived, and I read it quickly.

Abby describes the book as "a book about information architecture for everybody." I would argue the title is more accurate about making sense of any mess than her description is. The steps of "Identify, State, Face, Choose, Measure, Play, Prepare" she has are accurate in fixing any mess, if you adjust them slightly. Consider:

  • Identify the mess
  • Determine what you really want from this mess
  • Face reality
  • Choose a direction that takes you to your goal
  • Track how far you've come
  • Reflect on what you really want, if this goal is still worth the effort
  • Adjust (actually adjust) the way you're going (not just prepare to adjust)

More words, same idea. I like how Abby presents the ideas and provides a roadmap. I COMPLETELY disagree with her definition of hypertext, and wonder if her ideas of the hyper* come from a non-technical, didn't-start-with-the-web-from-its-infancy perspective, such that it may be more accurate to younger/non-technical people than I think it should be.

I recommend this book as a guidebook for groups. I can see this being a starting point for teams beginning a clean-up project, and plan on using the suggestions Abby provides for cleaning up this site (yay! a group of one!).

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