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Iomniimno,

I believe you're mostly suggesting tags.

But your example is really farcical; "walk fido at park" is really a task you can do at home. The task itself is to TAKE the dog to the park and to exercise him. An example of "Hey, I'm at the park, what can I do here? Walk the dog? DANG... no dog" is pretty laughable. One would hope humans would have a little more ability than that.

"Darn, I have to crap, but I'm not on the toilet... WHAT DO I DO?!"

:-P
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CatOne View Post
Iomniimno,

I believe you're mostly suggesting tags.
Nope, I'm suggesting multiple contexts per task.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CatOne View Post
But your example is really farcical; "walk fido at park" is really a task you can do at home.
True but, interrestingly, completely beside the point :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by CatOne View Post
The task itself is to TAKE the dog to the park and to exercise him.
Sure! For the sake of discussion, lets say that my task description is ridiculous and that yours is perfectly accurate and proper (and for the sake of discussion, I won't get into task atomicity because you might start crying); in what context would you put your task?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CatOne View Post
An example of "Hey, I'm at the park, what can I do here? Walk the dog? DANG... no dog" is pretty laughable.
That's one of the advertized features and it is explicitly exposed in the onsite tutorials. That's why you can filter by contexts and that's why the feature is integrated with the GPS on the iPhone. If you're close to the grocery store, remember to pick up some milk! If you're online on your mac, read about biomimicry! If you're at the Park, walk your dog...oh, no wait, no dog (to make it really clear to you, I'm trying to expose that more than one piece of relevant context is missing for you to perform your task). The proximity feature is actually a good idea but life is contextually complex (multi faceted).

Quote:
Originally Posted by CatOne View Post
One would hope humans would have a little more ability than that.

"Darn, I have to crap, but I'm not on the toilet... WHAT DO I DO?!"

:-P
No offence but I think you thoroughly missed the point :).

The example was chosen for it's simplicity. Pick whichever other example YOU deem desirable and apply the same reasoning (one requiring phoning one of your friends for which you have a context named when phone is also a context...which one do I choose, Phone or Fred? Both!)

Let me give you a less "laughable" example:

**Setup safe on garage wall with Fred's help**

This needs to happen at your house, in the garage, and you need Fred's help to lift the safe because it's too heavy.

To simplify your contexts are:

- Garage
- Fred
- Waiting

Which context do you pick?

*Garage* because it needs to happen in your garage?
*Fred* because you need Fred?
*Waiting* because you already notified Fred that you needed his help and because you are now "waiting" for him to decide to come and help you?

The reality is that embedding your task into each context, in isolation, is useful in it's own respect with regards to the task. Embedding the task into all of these contexts, on the other hand, is much more expressive because you are crossing *these* 3 facets for which context labels are made explicit in your system. There are potentially N such contexts that you might care about, but right now, in OmniFocus, you can only pick one.

omniinmo

Last edited by omniinmo; 2009-07-31 at 09:05 PM..
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by omniinmo View Post
To simplify your contexts are:

- Garage
- Fred
- Waiting

Which context do you pick?
I certainly get your point and it's something that troubled me at first as well. I had a strong urge to taxonomically organize all my data. It made me feel good and gave me a sense of control. But you know, once I started focusing more on doing rather than organizing, I realized that maybe I didn't really need, or even want, to exhaustively assign contexts or tags to everything that came through my to do list.

Hearing Merlin Mann speak at WWDC in 2008 really drove this point home for me. His suggestions made me realize that simplicity and ease of use was more important; it trumped my desire to bring order to a chaotic world (a.k.a. OCD :-).

So now when I'm faced with this kind of decision, I narrow in on the single, most important context required to achieve the task. David Allen writes about using your intuition; the same skill can be applied here.

In your example, I would immediately skip the @Waiting context; I rarely use a waiting list anyway. This really isn't something I'm waiting for someone else to do. This is an action I personally have control over.

I would also bypass the @Fred context. Fred's not the only one who can help, right? Couldn't John, Bill, or Mary lend a hand instead? Maybe I could even lift the safe on my own if I had proper equipment (some kind of jack?).

But this action can only be done in the garage. There's no way out of this one. Without access to the garage, absolutely no progress can be made, the action is entirely blocked. So I would use the @Garage context. It's the single, most important context available.

I know this might not be perfect or what you're looking for, but this frame of mind keeps things simple and easy to use. And, perhaps more importantly, it's an approach you can use with the software as it is right now.

I think the Omni folks are well aware of the desire for multiple contexts or tags. I'm sure it's something they're taking into consideration for OmniFocus 2.0. They've been planning the addition of some kind of metadata columns for a long time as well. Maybe that feature will lead to some kind of multiple contexts for those who feel they need them.

To be clear, I don't mean to discourage you from discussing your ideas. You certainly bring up some good points. I'm just trying to offer a differing point of view. :-)

-Dennis
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by omniinmo View Post
Let me give you a less "laughable" example:

**Setup safe on garage wall with Fred's help**

This needs to happen at your house, in the garage, and you need Fred's help to lift the safe because it's too heavy.

To simplify your contexts are:

- Garage
- Fred
- Waiting

Which context do you pick?

*Garage* because it needs to happen in your garage?
*Fred* because you need Fred?
*Waiting* because you already notified Fred that you needed his help and because you are now "waiting" for him to decide to come and help you?
You pick Garage, because it is the most restrictive of the bunch. If you run into Fred at the office or at the grocery store, it doesn't matter, you aren't going to be installing the safe there, only in the garage. Go read Ken's post from a year or so ago for some practical wisdom. In my opinion (and experience as a long-time user of Kinkless and OmniFocus), legitimate cases where a single context just won't work at all are rather uncommon; people who want to make a baroque system that will entertain endless fiddling, somewhat less so. Just to be clear, I am not saying that multiple contexts cannot be useful, only that they are rarely necessary. This is very much a case of "that may be all right in practice, but it will never work in theory." If you insist to yourself often enough that you can't possibly work without multiple contexts, you'll probably convince yourself. Try insisting otherwise. At any rate, arguing about it on the forum doesn't spur Omni to do it any sooner!
 
Well, this time Dennis beat me to the punch, with an excellent answer, to boot. I guess his first coffee tonight at the meet-up is on me :-)
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
Well, this time Dennis beat me to the punch, with an excellent answer, to boot.
But Bill, you wrote the same thing in only a third of the words. Surely that counts for something!

I think it was Cicero who wrote:

Quote:
If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.
:-D

-Dennis
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
You pick Garage, because it is the most restrictive of the bunch.
Interresting! I'm queasy about dropping the notion of "multi-facetedness" philosophically but focusing on invariants seems to be an interesting tidbit of pragmatism. I'll keep that in mind ;-).

omniinmo
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by omniinmo View Post
Nope, I'm suggesting multiple contexts per task.

...

Let me give you a less "laughable" example:

**Setup safe on garage wall with Fred's help**

This needs to happen at your house, in the garage, and you need Fred's help to lift the safe because it's too heavy.

To simplify your contexts are:

- Garage
- Fred
- Waiting

Which context do you pick?

...

omniinmo
Well, that's a project. Probably something like this:

Buy tools to cut hole in wall @store
Cut hole in garage wall @home
Call Fred to set up time to install safe @phone

And then I'd put it on my calendar.

Easy enough?

I frankly don't see it as "Hey, I'm in a particular location, let's do a search on multiple items or contexts to see where the magic convergence might let me do something RIGHT HERE." You are seriously overcomplicating things; to have 50 contexts and using the intersections of the contexts as your driving force to what you can do at this moment is, IMO, the wrong way of going about it. It's like a perverse over-interpretation of GTD. Even a non-perverse interpretation of GTD is overkill in many cases :-)
 
To add a bit more to the above, I think the discussion up until this point has been to support the assignment of a task to multiple contexts in an OR fashion, rather than the AND fashion that's being suggested above.

In other words, I can certainly see the point of having a task assigned to two or more individual contexts in which I may be able to perform that task. IMHO, this is most relevant due to the availability of location-based searches for places -- for example I may have a task to "Buy Milk" which can be done at the Grocery store, the Pharmacy, or the corner store. In any other system I'd tag this as "Errands" and be done with it, but since OF on the iPhone allows me to setup locations for each context, it makes some sense to create contexts for my Grocery Store, my Pharmacy and my Convenience store so that I can have the task show up when I'm near any of those locations.

However, using contexts as an AND style intersection sounds like it would get frighteningly complex in most cases. I'd agree with the posters above that you either need to subdivide the task into a project or sub-task with additional context-specific layers, or you need to simply identify the most important context that is relevant.

In the above example, using @Garage makes sense as that's where you want to think about the installation of the safe. Having it completely cut off unless Fred is present or unless the required hardware is present is irrelevant. If you're standing in the Garage looking for something to do, the presence of that task is going to tickle you to follow-up on the other things you need to accomplish that task. Otherwise, you may never see the task because the requisite conditions will rarely be met.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdh View Post
To add a bit more to the above, I think the discussion up until this point has been to support the assignment of a task to multiple contexts in an OR fashion, rather than the AND fashion that's being suggested above.

In other words, I can certainly see the point of having a task assigned to two or more individual contexts in which I may be able to perform that task. IMHO, this is most relevant due to the availability of location-based searches for places -- for example I may have a task to "Buy Milk" which can be done at the Grocery store, the Pharmacy, or the corner store. In any other system I'd tag this as "Errands" and be done with it, but since OF on the iPhone allows me to setup locations for each context, it makes some sense to create contexts for my Grocery Store, my Pharmacy and my Convenience store so that I can have the task show up when I'm near any of those locations.

However, using contexts as an AND style intersection sounds like it would get frighteningly complex in most cases. I'd agree with the posters above that you either need to subdivide the task into a project or sub-task with additional context-specific layers, or you need to simply identify the most important context that is relevant.

In the above example, using @Garage makes sense as that's where you want to think about the installation of the safe. Having it completely cut off unless Fred is present or unless the required hardware is present is irrelevant. If you're standing in the Garage looking for something to do, the presence of that task is going to tickle you to follow-up on the other things you need to accomplish that task. Otherwise, you may never see the task because the requisite conditions will rarely be met.
I don't think I'm advocating an overexpressive form of complexity here but I feel I can see cases where it's difficult to avoid without having to jump through hoops uselessly. What if you have to setup a meeting with, let say, 7 individuals (7 invariants since they are all required to attend), what do you do? Do you create 7 actionable items, one per invariant or do you create one actionable item referencing 7 invariants. For simplicity's sake, I would have a tendency to want to create 1 actionable item with 7 invariants because it otherwise seems like overkill, to me, to create 7 action items if all you need to do is to ultimately create one email to 7 names to then have to check off 7 action items rather than 1.

Then, from any direction across the 7 invariants, I'm able to reconstruct knowledge about who else needs to be at the meeting if I need to remember who all needs to attend the meeting rather than having disjointed actionable items. I'm not saying there's no way to make this work but I am saying that adding expressive power can simplify task creation quite a bit while increasing the available wealth of information.

omniinmo

Last edited by omniinmo; 2009-07-31 at 09:53 AM..
 
 


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