The Noguchi Filing System

Saturday, December 03, 2005
The Noguchi Filing System ios a short note by a guy in Japan on a filing system invented by a guy named Yukio Noguchi. The article is good, but the short description is this:

  1. Everything goes into an envelope

  2. Every envelope is tagged with date, the contents, and (optionally) some kind of color code for the content.

  3. The envelopes go into a shelf, say a bookself.

  4. Here's the slick part: Every time you put an envelope into the shelf, you put it at the left hand end. As a side effect of this, the envelopes sort themselves so that active things are on the left, less active on the right. Stuff on the far right end is "dead" and can be disposed of, or moved to less obtrusive space.

Actually, as the files got more full, I'd be tempted to take stuff from the right end of shelf A, and move it to the left end of shelf B, and so on.

There are two things I find interesting about this. First, it exploits what computer scientists call the principle of locality, which basically says that if you've used something recently you're more likely to use it again. This is exploited in computers through things like caching schemes.

The second is that it uses a principle of self-organization. Instead of having to come up with an organizational scheme and think it out in detail, your files self-organize, putting the most used ones together automatically. (I strongly suspect that they will end up roughly chronologically ordered after a while, at least on the rightward end of the system.)

More to come on this as I think more about it and experiment with it.


Morgan said...

Substitute "top" and "bottom" for "left" and "right", and it sounds like my desk. Except you can get to everything without knocking it on the floor.

One other aspect of this system - things that are used at the same time (files that are used at the end of each month, for example), will tend to clump together. That could be useful.

chuck said...

Why, it's the old LRU list, much loved by virtual memory managers.

Knucklehead said...

This is a formalized and horizontalized version of the time-honored Strata-Tinged filing system. One adds active "file" contents to the top of the pile. As items age they move relentlessly to the bottom of the pile becoming increasingly yellowed. When any file content has progressed from "off white" to any tint clearly recognizable as yellow, it is removed from the pile and disposed of.

Syl said...

This is how the Left works. They forget the history and just go from the most recent events.

It doesn't work for life, and it doesn't work for file systems.

There are things on the right side of the shelf that should not be forgotten.

Seneca the Younger said...

Chuck, yeah, absolutely. Makes me feel a little dumb for not having thought of it myself.

Seneca the Younger said...

Syl, but what about all the things on the right hand end of the shelf that should be forgotten?

Morgan said...

To be fair, Syl, the system does include the preservation of 'holy files' - dead files that are too valuable (or too valued) to be disposed of, and Noguchi wrote a whole separate book regarding how, and when, to get rid of files.