Comments on Bit Literacy

bit-literacy-cvr-175.gifI recently completed an essential book for those with a serious interest in productivity:  Bit Literacy by Michael Hurst.

While I can’t say that I agree with everything in the book, it was a provocative read that went deeper than anything I have ever read in some essential topics. At the same time, I thought that with respect to time management, he made a similar error to other writers in the field — sticking too much to a time management 1.0 mindset.

His overall idea is a sound one – the latest technologies are being mis-used by the majority of professionals who are applying old thinking and therefore stale practices to workplaces that have been revolutionized by email, iPhones and other technologies.  For example, the person who prints out every piece of email in order to “save it in a safe place” is confused by technology, and thinking in very old ways about data.  This makes them very inefficient, and causes them to not just waste paper and space, but also to create a level of paper-clutter that is inefficient.

He makes the point that we make here on 2Time, which is that you can’t apply old practices to the ever increasing mountain of information that is coming at the average user.  Most of the increase in information is not coming printed on paper, as it used to, but instead is coming in the form of bits and bytes, requiring new practices in the form of what he calls “bit literacy.”

As a minor aside, I found the term “literacy” to be a misleading one, as it only makes sense when compared to the way we use the phrase “computer literacy.”  I think a better phrase would be something like “bit capable” which is really what his book is about — the ability to skillfully process the flow of bits that a professional must face each day.

I’ll continue to share what I learned in future posts, but his overall thesis is a powerful one — things have changed, and a user’s practices must also change if professionals are interesting in even maintaining their current level of productivity.