Richard Karpinski
Computer Generalist
5833 Ross Branch Road
P.O. Box 262
Forestville, CA 95436-0262

Date: Sat, 26 Feb 2000 04:49:41 -0800 (PST)

From:   Reply-To:

Colloquium at Stanford
Stanford Center for Professional Development

Subject:   DKR best practice

I found a guy who explicitly and with computer assistance maintains his personal DKR. I was impressed with the system despite many silly limitations. And he explains it on the web. I got so excited by what I saw on the web that I visited the guy and watched him work while I asked probing questions for an hour or two.

He calls his Dynamic Knowledge Repository the Schedule Diary System (SDS) but it starts with an intention to attend a meeting, read a document, perform a task, or something else you might put on your to-do list or your schedule.

So he starts with a to-do list & schedule. But the nice part is that he disciplines himself to spending an hour or more PER DAY turning such a list into KNOWLEDGE. He does this by reviewing what got done about the stuff on the list. By quick means, he connects his newly keyed understandings into his DKR. This then enables him to navigate through the associated information with agility. In turn, the very convenience of recall gives him insights into what is happening.

One day I wandered around in his web site for hours and sent him a dozen or so emails about everything from typos to grand theories about why people aren't gobbling this idea up right away. He took my points and incorporated his understanding of them into his DKR. He then used a single command to make his response to me into HTML and put it on his web site. Perhaps that also sends me the URL or perhaps he does that separately.

In any case, it's now there for you to see at:

A couple of layers down appropriate links, you can see the SDS record structure and data flow schematic at:

I believe that applying the viewing parameter idea to material like this would enhance its usability. Of course, Jef Raskin, in "The Humane Interface", shows how to make systems like SDS very easy to learn and very comfortable and convenient to use. And Tom Gilb, in "Principles of Software Engineering Management", shows how to design the construction of such systems so that the project succeeds and a workable result is obtained.

Jef's site is at...

Tom's site is at...

All three of these guys are committed to understanding the reality that's staring them in the face. Most of us are "in denial" most of the time, just to remain cheerfull, I claim. Each of these authors works very diligently to provide ways to check yourself and ensure that your intentions are not being neglected or subverted by the forces of entropy etc. If you're not ready to face the necessarily large fraction of the time that you fail, then you cannot make full use of these technologies. Either you face your failures or you lose.

I suggest that their attitude, and that of those who follow them, is rather Taoist. They push right past our normal reluctance to think of ourselves in less than flattering terms. If you can live with that and function, then you too can accomplish great things. It still takes huge amounts of plain work, but the feedback loops give us much more control over our own destiny than the usual "flying blind" methods do.

Whether you like Rod Welch's SDS, or the web he's constructed with it, or not, it's a personal DKR that can easily be replicated and improved. I have learned not to just ask, in email, but rather to make a bald claim that calls out eager refutation.

There is no better example of a personal DKR in daily use.

We should study its design and build some software that can be shared which performs those functions. Then we should improve it until some clearly better idea shows up.

But never confuse a clear vision with a short path to make it so.



Richard Karpinski
The world's largest leprechaun
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