The number of indexcards I have written is now over 4,000. I never imagined it when I started using indexcards. It sounds like a great number, but in reality, I usually write 10 to 20 indexcards per day. Just a power of stress-free accumulation of chronological order rule.
Dock as Database
I feel the system possesses a different meaning than it did at the beginning. Now it works as a "database". The feeling is enhanced because of the Dock where all of your indexcards are gathered. Now I can use/reuse and organize/reorganize the indexcards. Preparation for presentation is an example. It was possible because I have the database. Roughly speaking, the PoIC system changes into database when the number of index cards exceeds 1,000. Knowledge in one's brain is also a database. For me, however, it was difficult to understand I have my own knowledge database, because it is invisible. After introducing the PoIC system, my knowledge database appears in the real world. No doubt I have my own knowledge database now.
Mixture of stone and gem
I call a state of my Dock like this title. I have never thought of my Dock as a gem box. There are gems, but not all. And it's totally o.k.
See a Pyramid in Egypt. It is constructed by pile of stones. The stones are useless if divided one by one. But if the stones become a uniform block and well organized, even though single block is useless, it is possible to become a great construction.
Even a group of several stones, it is possible to metamorphose into a gem. We are trying to find a pattern among our individual thoughts, events around us. If we could find a pattern from several "stone" cards, the knowledge generates a new "gem" card.
Conversely, if my Dock is full of a bunch of gems, it means I try to write and select only gems all the time. It will be stressful. And the system doesn't succeed to function as capturing "any" idea.
There are tons of stone cards, tiny and apparently useless ideas, in my Dock. But I don't know their true worth at the time I write them. As Steve Jobs said, all we can do is to connect dots (cards) backward. So I don't trash any single card. Rather, I keep all of them for future use.
Finding pattern in our daily life
This is a story of how I actually generate a gem from stones.
I had had a terrible headache for long time. It squeezed my brain. I couldn't concentrate on my work with it. But my health had no problem. I talked to a doctor, colleague, and supervisors ; and they gave same answer ; it is mental reason.
I had started reading book about brain and mental. Also I go to gym and begin swimming to overcome physically. But nothing had changed about the headache. Only progress I got was knowledge about brain and swimming skill. One day, I try to track record of the headache with my system. I had recorded about my health as daily (i.e. Record card). In terrible case, I record the condition on independent Record card. I search my Life Dock, and pick them up all.
Between the Record cards, I found interesting pattern. I had never had headache on Saturday and Sunday. Then what is different between week day and week end. It's simple : Go to office or not. Then It is really due to mental or human relationship? Nope. It seems opposite, the headache causes mental depression. Mentally, o.k., physically, o.k. ; what is the source? Then what about food and drink. A food won't be so different. I drink coffee and tea frequently both in my room, and office. Then the problem is coffee or tea itself?. Negative ; I drink same brand in both place. Then what about water? Water? But I couldn't believe a quality is so different.
Next day, I tried it anyway. Simply, just didn't drink coffee in my office. And the results is obvious. I didn't have the headache. I tried it next couple of days to confirm repeatability. And again, I didn't have headache. I finally found a solution : Source of my headache is the water in my office. But I still couldn't believe this result. A water is too usual. But it was biased by common sense. Long time I was blind due to the common sense. And only my card system knew the truth. Now I'm free from the terrible headache.
PoIC + KJ Method
In 1960', Kawakita Jiro developed a brain storming method using index cards, and later he call as "KJ method" that is taken from his initial. The KJ method is useful for reproduction process. The PoIC adopted no classification, no search, no revision in collection process. They appear in this process at last.
Here I show a reproduction process of this manual as an example of simplified KJ method. What we need is post-it, red pen, rubber band, and broad workspace.
As a beginning of the KJ method, we collect all idea and information about a certain theme as possible. In the PoIC, this process is automatically done by writing cards in daily life. We capture all ideas as they emerge and write down on individual cards. In general KJ method, it is possible to do this process as group brain storming.
At a certain point, when we think enough cards have accumulated, we proceed to next step.
Extract all cards related to the project, and put into a box. We express these extracted cards as Task Force. Almost all chapter is already defined for the PoIC manual, I partition an empty dock with the chapters. Flip cards in dock, pick up related cards, and put into appropriate chapter. In this process, we don't need to worry too much about context between cards.
Right picture shows about 600 cards related to the manual extracted from dock@home that contains about 2,000 cards. In next step, we organize groups of cards. It is difficult to do grouping with all 600 cards at one time, so we should divide rough group (chapter) in this process.
From time to space
This is the first time we classify cards in dock. We have treated cards in chronological order, that is, 1-dimensional time axis, until this process. We treat and handle cards in space, that is, 2-dimensional spacial axis, from now.
There is large group of chapters in dock after organizing Task Force. We divide each large group into small groups in this process.
In this grouping process, we try to find a pattern among cards in a chapter. We examine cards one by one, and put on desktop. If we find similar cards, pile them together. If not, put card on a blank space.
We don't need to be nervous about date and time stamp. All we need is to concentrate on the card's contents. As I mentioned, there are some cards which resemble the contents ofeach other, since we do not search cards in dock. All these cards gather in the same pile in this process. It helps to express one topic in different expression for writing manual.
Through this grouping process, new ideas emerge in our mind sometimes. In this case, we add memo on cards with red pen, or write new cards.
As you see in the picture, we need broad desk space to do this grouping. It is good to do at a large desktop, or perhaps, on a floor. This process is fun when number of cards is 100 - 200.
After grouping process, there are many piles of cards on the desktop. In this process, we name each group to make following process easier.
First, put post-it on top of each group. Larger post-it, say 75 mm x 75 mm, is convenient for this process. The 75 mm is exactly same size as height of Correct's index cards. Next, examine cards that comprise a group, and define name of the group. It is enough with plain, simple, and short name, because it is for personal convenience in next step. Write down the name on the post-it. Each small group named here corresponds to a section in a chapter.
When process of KJ method is all done, we bundle all chapters with rubber band. The post-it makes it easy to recognize end of sections.
Spatial distribution of each group is still in random order in this process. In the next step, we try to find patterns between groups according to the name.
In the grouping process, we find pattern between cards. In this process, we try to find larger pattern between groups.
Gather similar groups according to their name in one place. Arrange them so that stream of the name makes sense.
Chaos turns into cosmos. The random pile of cards is arranged in order. We clearly see a randomness of information, an entropy, decrease due to our effort.
In selection process, we named chapter roughly already. Here we name exact chapter's title. Put post-it on the desktop and select a chapter name more appropriate than that chosen in the beginning.
I cannot work with my desktop full of piles of cards, so I make a large pile from a group that comprises a chapter. Put post-it with the chapter name on top of the pile, and bundle using a rubber band.
At last, preparation to write the manual is done. All we do now is write from each of the groups. In each group, arrange cards in order.
In this process, a computer appears on the stage at last. I used MediaWiki to write this manual and made the illustrations using Adobe Illustrator.
After writing a chapter, bundle cards of the chapter with a rubber band, and return to the box of the Task Force. Thanks to post-its, it is easy to recognize the end of section in the chapter. We can always extend the groups on desktop if necessary.
The project is finished when I have written all cards to the manual. Then I can say "Get Things Done!". The cards selected for the Task Force have performed their work and may be retired. We can keep these cards somewhere else, and won't need to return them to the dock.