information triage
n. The process of gathering, sorting, and prioritizing information to identify what is relevant or important and to discard everything else.

Example Citations:
The relative stability of iPad 2 over, or next to, iPad 1, suggests the new computing platform is close to lift off. The signature of laptop-based information triage is multiple open windows or tabs, email and social alerts, and digest hints of the value of serial video streams. It's an effective interface, one that we can't yet replace with the tablet/notification paradigm.
—Steve Gillmor, "Hey Kids, What Time Is It?," TechCrunch, April 17, 2011

Information triage is the continuous process by which we refine the information we gather, paying most attention to the information that is most valuable and identifying additional information we want to procure.
—"Information Triage," Notes About Notes, January 1, 2010 (approx)

Earliest Citation:
Research into the concept of information triage and further examination of "backlog management" will enable archivists to deal more effectively with modern collections. What level of processing can be carried out within a reasonable time frame and will benefit the maximum number of users?
—"The American Archivist: Volume 5," Society of American Archivists, January 1, 1988 (approx)

The related idea of data triage may have been coined by the late writer David Foster Wallace. In a remarkably prescient note to his editor Michael Pietsch back in 1994, Wallace used the term as part of a justification for using endnotes in his novel Infinite Jest:

[Endnotes] make the primary-text an easier read while at once 1) allowing a discursive, authorial intrusive style w/o Finneganizing the story, 2) mimic the information-flood and data-triage I expect'd be an even bigger part of US life 15 years hence.
—David Foster Wallace, quoted in Zac Farber, "'Neurotic and Obsessive' but 'Not Too Intransigent or Defensive': Editing David Foster Wallace" (PDF), The Howling Fantods, December 30, 2009

I am now taking submissions for possible definitions of the verb Finneganize.

Related Words: