Fridge Logic

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017-08-29 23:00:00 No comments

Steven Savage has a great post: Information Radiators, Refrigerators, And Hoses. A "radiator" in this context is "something (a chart, a graph) that’s easily visible and communicates information." E.g., a wall chart in an office that explains your rights under federal law.

Then there's this:

The opposite is something I’ve heard called the Information Refrigerator, which I’m now stealing for use in any damn conversation I can use. The Information Refrigerator is a source of information you have to rummage around to find anything. I’m pretty sure you’ve encountered these from work to softwere requiring you to dig around in charts. The Information Refrigerator is distinctly un-Agile. It’s also just annoying.

I've talked before about using a wiki to manage information about a creative project. Used well, it can be radiator. Used poorly, it's a fridge, one where you have plates of pudding skin and chicken slowly rotting into something that looks like cheese.

I'm experiencing some Fridge Issues right now with both my current project (in 2nd draft edits) and a future one. In both cases, I squirreled away a lot of data about the project in a wiki, but I didn't really do it with an eye to how the data could be pulled back out again. In some cases there were massive blocks of information dumped as Conversations With Myself where no actionable item was readily visible.

Why does this happen? Best I can tell, it's because it's too easy to just dump stuff into an all-purpose receptacle and assume you can always find it later by searching. WRONG!

Now, some of this dump-it-and-forget-it behavior is okay, at first. It's fine to have an unstructured, rambling, talking-to-yourself Q&A to help nail down what the thing is about and how it is about it. But then you have to take what's been established from that shapeless note-taking and slot it into the wiki in a way that you can actually find and act on later.

Just being able to keyword-search for things is not by itself an organizational scheme. What if you can't remember the wording you used to record something? This happens more often than you'd think. Was it "sword" or "weapon" or ... ? You get the idea. The last thing you need to be doing with something you compiled yourself is playing Synonym Mambo with it to get it to cough up something.

There's a part of me that's always been averse to the yak shaving that goes with any creative project. I don't particularly like compiling information about a setting; I get itchy to actually write the work itself, not dink around with its metadata.

In truth, I found the problem was that it was too easy to get swallowed up by that kind of stamp-collecting, so if anything I overcompensated. I didn't want to turn into one of those folks who plans something forever and then never gets around to actually creating a complete work from it.

On the other hand, I don't want to ignore codifying crucial details about my setting and characters. I just wanted to make sure such work filled a role, instead of becoming an end unto itself.

Tags: creativity creators management projects wikis