Personal Information System

What is a Personal Information System?

{Somehow I don't think the name "PIS" will catch on}

It is a system which allows an individual to gather, organize, store and retrieve the ideas and information found to be useful to the individual.

Ideas and the organization of ideas and information have been an ongoing pursuit of many of us for at least the last 20 years. The suggestions and approaches mentioned in ProgrammersNotebook have been and continue to be utilized in my own PersonalInformationSystem.

When I purchased a scanner some years ago, I began an evolution which has led me to a system of organization I call PaperPorting, named after the Software I use with the scanner and every media connected to my computer, including my Palm Pilot Professional.

It meets most of my needs for a place to record both permanent and transient information, including scribbles on small scraps of paper or napkins, as well indexcards, Dated Information (as in Day Planners), Notebooks, Handouts, Meeting notes, Business Cards, Clippings from Magazines, Newspapers, Photographs, Even negatives (color and black and white) Drawings, Sketches, Spreadsheets, Printouts, Captures from my PcTelevision?, Images from a digital camera, You name it, If it exists in digital form or can be scanned on a scanner, It all can be stored via PaperPorting.

A personal information system should employ means of organization as in folders and subfolders, which correspond to directories and subdirectories on disks and floppies, cdroms, network drives and a PersonalWiki. Each of the folders and subfolders also contain many documents. Most typewritten and printed text scanned may be easily Ocred and stored as text files, spreadsheets, databases. One may scan an old program listing printed on a dotmatrix printer in the 1970s and then Ocr it! So recovery of information which existed prior to the microcomputer and for that matter before the vacuum tube is possible.

I disagree on this point. I've been using a PersonalWiki for quite some time, and it is most definitely NOT organized into a file/folder hierarchy. One of the reasons the Web exploded the way it did was the ability of node creators to arbitrarily link to other nodes in the system, regardless of location or hierarchy. This stands in contrast to the older organizational systems such as gopher, which tried to organize the "web of knowledge" being created online by forcing it into rigid hierarchies.

This is not to say that there isn't a place for hierarchies -- good InformationArchitecture shows that hierarchy is useful, but only to a point, and should not be a constraining factor for navigation or classification. I have calendar listings, notes, cards, e-mails, documents, and photos of a birthday party, where do I put the items? Do they go in separate sections, one for Calendars, one for Notes, one for Cards, etc? Or do they go into a single Birthday section? What if I just want to see all photos then? Strict hierarchy makes it difficult to fetch items that have multiple categories. -- DaveCantrell

To illustrate PaperPorted? information could be used in a PersonalInformation? System which might not at the present time be understood or deciphered. It would seem possible that even Egyptian Hieroglyphs could be stored and later found to be Ocrable with appropriate software! Not as wild an idea as one might think, for something only a step away, see


The advantage of this scheme is that any such hieroglyphs might be studied by novices which were either not known by or were not of sufficient interest for the experts in the field to make understandable. This might also be the case for ignored and put aside items which may not be supportive or shed light on a favorite schema or field of interest for the experts.

The images of the hieroglyphs themselves would stand on their own and be represented in the PersonalInformationSystem.


Some technical information which is not yet understandable or for which tools to employ are not available to the personal user can be stored and linked in a PersonalInformationSystem. The informationAtoms the IdeaFragments? the HyperLinkableWord?, whether they be subjects, topics, categories, phrases, words, or even characters or glyphs used in the foregoing, can all be stored in linkable form in a suitable PersonalInformationManager.
For a look at possibilities: My Projects: at The link expressed a desire at that time (2009) which I had to create, protect, maintain and archive information at a personal level. It is continuing to be a desire and is expressed in terms of Shaping and Controlling of personal resources by personally designed and configured spaces and pages in a a PIM I call NysLte. -- DonaldNoyes.20111031
CategoryPersonalInformationSystem CategoryWebAnnotation

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