Monday, January 13, 2014

Techno-Journaling (part 2)

click here for part 1

Now comes the digestion step.  This was the very part that the client didn't grasp and was reluctant to pay for. This is not merely a typing exercise, to write up the notes. If you had a little better handwriting than I, you could probably give the TAJ to a reasonably competent secretary ... sorry ... I forgot those had been done away with ...  you could probably give them to a reasonably competent administrative assistant and get a typed set in short order. Nor, as I told the reluctant client, was this an exercise in calligraphy! The point is to digest the material, question it,  and recast in more precise form, which goes into the client journal (now to be called the CJ).

The formal method is quite simple. One starts with an item in the TAJ. It is weighed: do I grasp this fully, or are there questions? Is there a contradiction between this and something else I came across? Then, all the information contained in the item is rewritten in precise, formal, full sentences in the CJ.  If something is uncertain and such a statement cannot be written, then a precise, formally stated question, or questions thought necessary to be able to enter such explanatory sentences must be entered in their place. I use a special marker for questions in my CJ, prefacing them with a big "Q" in the margin.

At the end of this process, the TAJ's contents are completely covered, and it may be treated as the name indicates: throw it away.

The process represents a systematic method for grasping and wrapping-your-mind around the problems, issues, difficulties, needs, wants, and considerations which otherwise would be overwhelming and take a long time to master. This method reduces the task: Just capture everything you can get in the TAJ. That alleviates the issue of forgetting: the decay function of short-term memory is notorious. Then, those cryptic, telescoped bullet points can be expanded over the next few days into proper, thought out questions or proper thought out formulations of fact. That's huge.

One bit of advice. You should begin the process of transfer from the TAJ to the CJ as soon as possible, because memory will dim over time and you may find that months later you don't even remember what you meant by a particular statement.

Now we can return to the story of the reluctant client who didn't want to pay for a write-up of the notes. That client didn't understand that this is the means by which TheHackerCIO masters the details of the project and moves into a position to offer technology recommendations. It's not optional. It's a way of processing the information. As I said before, this isn't some calligraphy exercise! After the explanation, the client mostly understood, but it reminded me of how much others could benefit from using journals in their own day-to-day work.

This doesn't exhaust the full power of techno-journaling. There are the mastery journals, but that's a topic for another time. I hope you find journaling as useful as I have, but as with everything, your mileage may vary.

I Remain,


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