I quit my job at the university and so I had to clear out my workplace. It was quite interesting to revisit the digital and physical traces of 36 years.
It is amazing how many notes, excerpts, bookmarks, compilations, assemblies, drawings and drafts were necessary to produce the results that were finally sent out, and to gather sufficient understanding for all the new developments. In the end, my “knowledge base” consisted of approximately 12.000 files in a deep folder hierarchy of 1.500 folders. In the following diagram, I color-coded the 300 major folders (those that contained at least one subfolder): Red through purple means new to very old.
I wrote earlier about my dense network of folder shortcuts, so I was not surprised that I had more than a thousand shortcuts. But I was surprised that I still had so many plain text files.
It started with little slips of paper, to capture data from telephone calls or other little notes, piled up in a drawer. I found a total of 828 old pieces of paper, in 59 paper “folders”. 164 contained small drawings — such notes were later captured as a powerpoint slide, or as a Cmap, or most recently with my own tool. But the bulk of it were tiny text notes.
They were best simulated by plain text files. So, until today, I capture my notes quickly by firing up the Notepad editor, and all the shiny Personal Knowledge Management tools have not convinced me to employ such a complex application for the simple task of storing little text snippets in linked folders — which the Operating System can do for me. (This week, the Toolblog.de also wrote about .txt files, in German).