Information About Information

I was jotting down ideas on the various aspects of Information that a business has to deal with. Not all of them are relevant to all businesses. However, as I was thinking about Information,  I was amazed by the number of attributes and activities related to information. Here is a list.

  1. Gathering – Identifying the Right Sources
  2. Finding – Search and Other tools
  3. Aggregating
  4. Validating – Verifying the authenticity and sources
  5. Deduplicating – Enormous overload occurs due to slightly modified versions of Information occurring over a period of time
  6. Normalizing – Reducing it to some kind of canonical form (who are the players, what is happenings etc.)
  7. Filtering – The essential tool to manage the overload and separate signal from noise. But the noise of one person may be the signal for another. So can we customize, individualize filters? What do we do with sediments left behind the filtering process?
  8. Detecting patterns – occurrence patterns and source bias patterns and other cause-effect patterns
  9. Classification  – Topic Aggregation, Topic Similarity, Topic Hierarchy
  10. Relating  – independent, interdependent, co-occurrence and correlations
  11. Analysis – contextual analysis, source context, use context, bias, analysis of language, overtones/undertones,
  12. Synthesis – Making sense of different pieces of information
  13. identifying Propagation Patterns – How does it propagate? What is the correlation of information paths to styles of information
  14. Insights – Detecting trends, velocity and currency
  15. Intelligence – Deriving actionable intelligence, mining, extracting facts, extracting entities, why/what/how/when/where analysis
  16. Layering  – how each layer maps to the organization’s layers?
  17. Flow – An analysis of flow of information. Tracing information between people, teams, departments, up and down the organization. Also flows between an organization, its partners and customers.
  18. Structuring  –  How do we link these different pieces – Unstructured, semi-structured and structured?
  19. identifying barriers to use – stovepipes/silos, lost information
  20. Supplementing/Augmenting Information – with annotations and collaborative editing
  21. Visualizing – Different levels and types of visualization
  22. Alerts and Notifications  – Smart alerts/notifications based on analysis and detection of patterns and occurrence of events based on rules. Needed for both internal and external information.
  23. Synchronizing – Updating internal information based on changes taking place external to the organization.

This is just a partial list. As the information increases dramatically, we need to think about these various aspects of Information and how we can leverage it to help an organization. What is your IIQ (Information Intelligence Quotient)?

Update June 2012

The team at Next Wave Multimedia were kind enough to create a presentation from this post.  Do you want to create your own fun presentations? You can try ComicsHead, an iPad app.

15 thoughts on “Information About Information

  1. Impressive!

    A few related notes —

    1) Information Mapping has a “periodic table” of elemental information types (procedures, processes, etc) that may be worth exploring integrating.

    2) Just-in-Time Learning/PSS specialist Gloria Gery some time ago came up with a number of reusable learning object categories, including definitions, examples, rules of thumb, diagrams, case studies, etc.

    3) Recently, Thomas Petersen offered some new ways to manage cascades of information, by throwing seeds of future idealities into the exaflood, and retrieving useful content. His “Slaves of the Feed” post is at .

    In comments on Thomas’ post, I’ve outlined a fractal-like universal narrative structure that may also be useful for teams using your information-about-information checklist.


    Mark Frazier
    @openworld @buildership @peerlearning (twitter)

    1. Mark,
      Thank you for making the post a bit richer with more Information about Information (pun intended).

      I have bookmarked the Periodic Table of Visualization Methods a while ago (on delicious) and use it in my talks. I will check out Slaves of the Feed and your comments. We are experimenting with a couple of Twitter apps for tracking information (@checkpage) and also building a Global Mind Map through Tweets (as a part of a Collective Intelligence project effort).

      1. Dorai,

        Glad to hear back – congratulations on the @checkpage site.

        I’m very keen to see a good Tweet->Mindmap solution in the near future… it’s been an ongoing interest, as you’ll see with a look at tweets over the past few weeks from @openworld and @buildership.

        I’ve been encouraging @Mindmeister and to come up with a solution for batching archived Tweets into mindmaps, hopefully with a #hashtag filtering ability to group similar Tweets.

        Do you know of any solution available for this? It could be a gamechanger…


        Mark and

        1. I can think of a crude solution, refined over time. Here are a few thoughts.

          1. Search Twitter and get the RSS feed (no programming required)
          2. Read the feed and populate a wiki (from a media wiki engine). Some programming required but not much
          3. Use a Wiki Mind Map tool to map the wiki

          Another alternative is a series of filters.

          1. Search Twitter and feed the RSS to a Pipe (created using Yahoo Pipes)
          2. Filter the content and generate one or more streams
          3. Take the output of the stream and build a transformer that generates one of the mind map formats – cmap, graphwiz etc. support an XML format for mind maps

          In this approach, only 3 requires some programming. We are thinking of doing some thing along these lines but all our resources are tied up in a couple of projects. If you have a development team, I can direct them.

          Please take a look at Drawing without Drawing which is very different but an idea for generating mindmaps without drawing.

  2. Mark,
    I did some research and this is what I found.

    1. Mindmeister accepts the Freemind format (an XML format)
    2. There are tools to convert text to freemind format (I picked a python program from here. It is called text-to-freemind )
    3. I tried it with sample test. If you download and install python, you can create the freemind format file by:

    python >

    4. I created a trial account in mindmeister and imported the file and could see the mind map

    So if we can get the list of tweets or any thing else into a simple outline format, indented by tabs, you can generate a mindmeister mindmap. Send me an email at dorait at and I can send share the map with you and send the files.


  3. Dorai,

    This is a very encouraging update!

    >> If you have a development team, I can direct them.

    We launched a few weeks ago, and have had a number of open source developers and allies sign up to give inputs.

    Would you be willing to help launch us by preparing an outline spec?

    It could be based on either of the paths you identified for anyone to:

    – freely export archived Tweets (perhaps from files generated by BackUpMyNet or SearchTastic?)

    – organize the individual Tweets via drag and drop via a text outliner (or, after importing, do this directly in a mindmap)

    – publish the organized Tweets as a web-based mindmap that can be publicly or privately viewable (and, hopefully, editable).

    Would it be possible to draft a minispec based on your sense of the best solution? I’d be delighted to post it on the site to get things launched.

    Also, I just found links to four free text->web Mindmap solutions in case you think they may offer part of the solution:


    @openworld @buildership

    1. Mark,
      Thanks. I will be happy to as long as it is an open source product. I can write up a mini-spec based on our discussions here. Alternately, we can chat a bit so that I can understand a bit more of what you need and how you plan to use it. If you have developers, we can do some nifty things. I will be happy to spec, help them out and even test the product.

      My handle on skype/gtalk is dorait. So feel free to ping me. I am in India right now (will be back in US by third week of Feb) so please check the time zones before we can chat. I am available after 7am to 11pm (with usual breaks for exercise, meals etc.). When I am not in meetings, I am always online 🙂


  4. Dorai,

    Many thanks for the kind offer!

    Yes, agree that the utility will move ahead on a free and open source basis.

    I’ll look forward to talking on Friday or Saturday if possible – we’re heading out of town on a short trip. My Skypename is openworld . Will be in Twitter and email contact meanwhile. Even a short outline would help if you can send to mfrazier (at) openworld (dot) com.

    Appreciate your interest and look forward to seeing a a lot more Twitterverse convergence with mindmapping in the months to come!



  5. The “humosint” project has been inactive for some time due to lack of help, but I think we could help each other. Let me know if you’re interested; I think you would be.

    1. Chris,
      Looks pretty interesting. I blogged a while ago about OSINT. I will take a look. Is there a community? I would be interested in exploring it further.

      1. There was a small community, but everyone’s working on their own projects right now; I could pull everyone from the original staff back in if I could make it profitable for them. I just couldn’t really get the project off the ground in terms of participation.

        Most of our development was based around making a fairly autonomous demonstration of the intelligence cycle to exist purely as a web application….’organization in a box’ if you will.

        I see a link to my old blog in your ‘related links’ for this post, I think there’s some info about it on there and we also had a crude introductory google site:

        Without funding though, it kind of died and is now a bit of a pipe dream of mine. One of our lost alpha version however was semifunctional until a hard drive failure after a power surge intervened. I could get another functioning prototype together with the right team in a matter of a few months.

        I considered seeking a grant to keep development going, but it’s not really my area.

        Send me an email, some time.

        1. Let us talk. I will be back in US in the third week of Feb. You can send me a private email with your contact details. I will do the same. I found that the best way to gauge interest is to build some thing really simple and make it freely available to people to experiment with.


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