Sunday, July 29, 2007

Bit Literacy book review

Bit Literacy: Productivity in the Age of Information and E-mail Overload
Mark Hurst (New York: Good Experience Press, 2007)

An empty inbox. This radical concept is at the forefront of Mark Hurst’s book: Bit Literacy. Hurst believes that emptying your email inbox at least once a day is key to achieving real productivity and a sense of completion that’s lacking in our daily lives. Hurst offers an easy-to-follow method that was totally freeing for me. How many people have inboxes that are so full we can’t find anything? How many people take tons of digital photos but can’t figure out what to do with them? How many people don’t even check their email any more at home because they just can’t deal with it? Hurst even tackles those health warning emails that people love to forward.

This book is a must-read for everyone and anyone. If you deal with computers, email, digital photos—you need this book. It is especially critical for people who say they don’t know anything about computers. It will teach you how to manage them, so that you can deal with them as little as possible. If you are a techie, you will also find organizational systems here to help you, although some of the information will seem very basic.

Hurst lays out a blueprint for managing the overload of information that comes at us every day in digital form. Chapter by chapter, Hurst explains how to deal with email, your to-do list, keep up with magazines and newsletters, sorting, naming and storing digital photos so you can easily find them later, etc. Every chapter lays out a clear method for keeping on top of the information that’s constantly coming towards us, so that we don’t feel overwhelmed. Hurst’s goal is to help his readers learn to be productive, so that you can actually get work done and have a life.

Mark Hurst is President of Creative Good consulting, helping companies create better website experiences, so it’s not surprising that he’s trying to help people have a better experience in their work and personal lives. He’s come up with smart methods for dealing with all aspects of our digital lives. I especially liked his suggestions for streamlining how to save files and organize digital photos. Some of his suggestions will take some time to implement. I don’t know how many people will switch over to different keyboards or sign up for his fee-based “gootodo” program, but he offers many practical tips that can help people learn how to manage their digital lives. This book will be especially helpful for older Baby Boomers who never “got” computers but now need to use them and young people who are just starting out.

As for me, somewhere in the middle, I’ll be referring to this book often, and emptying my inbox at least once a day. And those of you who write me personal emails will now be getting your response first, as Hurst suggests.

A blog ethics note: Creative Good was nice enough to distribute free copies of this book at a recent event I attended. I am happy to recommend such a wonderful resource to people.

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