Category Archives: Noguchi Filing System

Noguchi filing system on index cards from hawkexpress

Photo by hawkexpress, all rights reserved.

The Flickr photostream of hawkexpress has a wonderful example of the Noguchi filing system in practice. hawk takes meticulous and beautiful handwritten notes on index cards (3×5, quadrille, someone after my own heart), and has a well developed system for using that to be productive with.

The biggest single characteristic of the Noguchi system is that it’s entirely chronological; new cards in this system go to the front of the file, and old ones go to the back.

See his blog, Pile of Indexcards, for more contemplation of these techniques; the blog is in English, though almost all of the card scans are of mostly Kanji cards.


Links for August 1, 2006

Normally I’d do these in delicious, but that system has been pokey of late with my thousands of bookmarks. So this will be an old fashioned link dump.

The power grid was in Energy Emergency Alert 2 status for the region covered by the Midwest ISO. Lovely real time load charts and grid congestion and real time pricing maps detail the mess the area is in.

I scored a few dollars (about $20) in Amazon gift certificate money due to my recommendation of the Omron HJ-112 pedometer (about $20) which is the pedometer of choice among Walker Tracker walkers.

David Bloom is growing an exceptionally hot crop of Capsicum frutescens (Purira) this year, though he thinks it might have hybridized. A-hoo-ah!

My UP informants tell me that the blueberry crop in Gulliver, MI is good this year, but they lament the loss of the local Michnet dial-in. In world berry crop news, there are excellent raspberries in North East Scotland.

Loisontheweb has a WunderBlog hosted on the Weather Underground from her UP vantage point of Crystal Falls.

This week’s TidBits (#840) has a feature on “Getting Things Done with your Macintosh”, which links back to my summary of the Noguchi Filing System.

Tim Berners-Lee gives presentations using Slidy. No need for powerpoint, just fire up a browser.

Fidel Castro is in the hospital. See the Cuban News Agency for official details from Havana, or Radio Havana Cuba via Internet or shortwave.

Sustainability in a Post-Apocalyptic Ypsilanti involves solar cooking. I like the umbrella styled one.

Bruce Sterling reviews the Voltaic Solar Backpack. His teenage daughter calls it an “instant boy magnet”, but it doesn’t charge your laptop and it doesn’t have twinkly LEDs scattered all over it to show off.

August 8 Ann Arbor elections. Ron Suarez is running (and blogging his efforts); his signs are one of a kind and hand-made.

Getz’s Department Store (Carhartt, North Face, Hudson Bay) in Marquette was paying 10-14% of revenues for Adwords for their online store back when the NY Times interviewed them last November.

Gopher is not dead, reports Jason Kottke. I was there for GopherCon ’92 and gave the presentation on the World Wide Web to that crowd. Prentiss Riddle wrote the trip report.

On the hottest day of the year, the Fermi 2 nuclear power plant near Monroe, MI was down. Amazingly, the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press totally missed the story, and they were scooped by the Monroe Evening News. The plant restart was interrupted by a low-level emergency when a fire-supression unit triggered in a cable-tray room in an auxiliary building at the plant. DTE did not issue a press release on the topic.

Chelsea, MI Comcast cable network subscribers had a Comcatastrophe today, taking out service.

The West Branch of the Ann Arbor District Library was down due to a power outage on the west side of town.

No one went to the cooling center at Eastern Michigan University set up for the heat emergency, reports the Ann Arbor News; I’ll bet they were somewhere more interesting like Meijer or the mall.

Google is looking for a site in town for their Adwords unit, not enough details to report than anything has been ruled out yet.

Short links from my search logs: 15 Oct 2005

Rather than write something long right now, I thought I’d go through the stats (from mybloglog) and give some feedback to google queries that have come their way to Vacuum.

Nancy Osborn, Nano Osborn, sometimes the searches come in as Osborne. Here’s the obituary. Memorial service today (Saturday). The Ann Arbor News printed the obit, but in the spirit of the infinitely broken MLive, the full text of it is nowhere to be found in a Google search. Hello? Grrr. For a fond memory, see this story from the Detroit News a few years back: “Going native: Hardy Midwest plants make Michigan gardens havens for birds and butterflies”.

The Noguchi filing system. After writing about it, I’m starting to use it. It turns out that if you shelve a lot of very thin file folders in a regular bookshelf, they start to fall over unpleasantly if they aren’t packed in neatly with books. Note to self: bookends. There’s lots of commercial-grade furniture aimed at medical and dental offices that use open shelf filing. A nice page from Oregon State details a lot of filing alternatives under the topic of Records Management. (My new filing technique is unstoppable – includes video game – in stores now.)

Ann Arbor commute. If you can, take the bus, though it works best if you work downtown or at the University. My bus route is a literary landmark.

pocketmod. A clever way of folding a piece of paper so that it gives you a preprinted schedule, blank grid, or other “mods”. The folding technique turns out to be from an Army field manual on reading maps, which gives additional instructions on how to glue your folded map flat on a page.

Mark Lombardi. This late artist drew elaborate pencil drawings of conspiracies and financial crime, using soaring graphite arcs to connect the perpetrators. Robert Hobbs curated a traveling show through the pierogi 2000 gallery; here is their mark lombardi @ pierogi 2000 page with links to where the show has been. Get the book Mark Lombardi: Global Networks from your local library, or read “Obsessive-Generous: Toward a Diagram of Mark Lombardi” (thanks Brian for that link).

vacuum bags cross reference. Can’t help you on this one.

that didn’t end up short.

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Noguchi Filing System (Chou Seiri Hou) – abandon all classification except chronological

Filing is a never-ending task with paper documents. Here is a novel approach. From Linking Chan/Seon/Zen Figures and Their Texts: Problems and Developments in the Construction of a Relational Database by Michel Mohr in the Journal of Digital Information v3n2.

3.4 Classify or Not? Parallel Treatment of Analog and Digital Information

Researchers often spend far more time collecting and storing information than they do analyzing it and using it to formulate new hypotheses. In the humanities, figures indicate that as much as 80 percent of our time is dedicated to mechanical tasks, among these the classification of documents. Noguchi Yukio 野口悠紀雄 argues that for the individual researcher, classification is an endless and fruitless task (1993, 1995, 1999, 2000), and proposes that library-type classification by subject be discarded in favor of chronological ordering (that is, ordering on the basis of what document has last been used). His method basically involves putting all material into A4 envelopes and placing the most recently used envelope at the end of the row. Having applied it to my own work for the past two years I am completely free of the "lost child syndrome" ("Now where did I put that piece of paper!").

Noguchi's ideas are largely inspired by discoveries related to the use of computers. He argues that although we have entered the age of digital information, our thinking is still largely conditioned by habits inherited from our long dependence on paper. We have been led by force of habit to believe that if information is not properly labeled or classified then it will be impossible to find when needed. Noguchi shows, however, that this is not necessarily the case.

Nevertheless, when building a database there seems to be no way to avoid using fields, which amounts to classifying. Similarly, the entire process of tagging, be it in SGML or XML formats, involves labeling items of knowledge, often for commercial purposes. The digitization of data in itself does not necessitate classifying, but the use of database applications compels it to a certain extent. Categories, even the most sophisticated ones, once used necessarily reflect the limits of our vocabulary and conceptual horizon.

Studying the history of religions implies the willingness to take on the viewpoint of the object of study. When the objects of study are Chan/Seon/Zen figures, this may sometimes demand that we, like Zen monks, impose silence upon our discursive minds and employ our more holistic abilities in order to grasp relationships which are difficult to codify. This should not be misconstrued as a negation of rational ways of thinking, but as an augmentation of them. In Buddhism, after all, the logic of equality precedes the logic of differentiation without invalidating it.

This mimics many people's email filing techniques of just using an inbox to keep documents sorted – Google's GMAIL famously dispenses with any need to file things directly if you don't want to.

European Patent EP 1001354 references this technique and Noguchi's book "Chou Seiri Hou (Ultra Management Technique)".

Thanks to Lindsay Marshall for pushing me down this particular path, which can also be seen in the much-cited Noguchi Filing System paper by translator William Lise. (UPDATED with link to Internet Archive.)

For comic relief, my new filing technique is unstoppable.

For more on a Noguchi approach to filing for electronic documents, see Jeff Porten's "Getting Things Done with your Macintosh" series on TidBits (issue 840).

One of the Noguchi books is available (in Japanese) from Thanks to Eric Sinclair for helping me track this one down.

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