- Nov 2022
Abrams, Douglas. “Historian Barbara W. Tuchman on the ‘Art of Writing’ (Part II).” Precedent 9, no. 1 (January 1, 2015): 18–21. http://ssrn.com/abstract=2581159
Interesting view of writing and a short collection of reasonable writing advice. Perhaps a bit too much focus on other writers given the title of the piece. Not sure it was all brought together in the nice bow it may have otherwise had, but interesting nonetheless.
- Oct 2022
Eventually, as the cards fall into groups accordingto subject or person or chronological sequence, the pattern of mystory will emerge.
For creating narrative, Barbara Tuchman apparently relied on grouping her note cards by subject, person, or chronological sequence.
Sincecopying is a chore and a bore, use of the cards, the smaller thebetter, forces one to extract the strictly relevant, to distill from thevery beginning, to pass the material through the grinder of one’s ownmind, so to speak.
Barbara Tuchman recommended using the smallest sized index cards possible to force one only to "extract the strictly relevant" because copying by hand can be both "a chore and a bore".
In the same address in 1963, she encourages "distill[ing] from the very beginning, to pass the material through the grinder of one's own mind, so to speak." This practice is similar to modern day pedagogues who encourage this practice, but with the benefit of psychology research to back up the practice.
This advice is two-fold in terms of filtering out the useless material for an author, but the grinder metaphor indicates placing multiple types of material in to to a processor to see what new combinations of products come out the other end. This touches more subtly on the idea of combinatorial creativity encouraged by Raymond Llull, Matt Ridley, et al. or the serendipity described by Niklas Luhmann and others.
When did the writing for understanding idea begin within the tradition? Was it through experience in part and then underlined with psychology research? Visit Ahrens' references on this for particular papers to read.
Link to modality shift research.
As to the mechanics of research, I take notes on four-by-six indexcards, reminding myself about once an hour of a rule I read long agoin a research manual, “Never write on the back of anything.”
Barbara Tuchman took her notes on four-by-six inch index cards.
She repeated the oft-advised mantra to only write on one side of a sheet.
What manual did she read this in? She specifically puts quotes on "Never write on the back of anything." so perhaps it might be something that could be tracked down?
Who was the earliest version of this quote? And was it always towards the idea of cutting up slips or pages and not wanting to lose material on the back? or did it also (later? when?) include ease-of-use and user interface features even when not cutting things up?
At what point did double sided become a thing for personal printed materials? Certainly out of a duty to minimize materials, but it also needed the ability to duplex print pages or photocopy them that way.
Tuchman, Barbara W. Practicing History. Ballantine, 1982.
- open questions
- note taking advice
- combinatorial creativity
- modality shifts
- educational psychology
- 4 x 6" index cards
- subject headings
- Barbara Tuchman
- note taking affordances
- writing for understanding
- historical method
- reading with a pen in hand
- write only on one side
- chronological order
- note taking
- ars excerpendi
- note card sizes
- Aug 2022
“I do all my own research,” she said, “though reviewers have speculatedthat I must have a band of hirelings. I like to be led by a footnote ontosomething I never thought of. I rarely photocopy research materials because, for me, note-taking is learning, distilling. That’s the whole essence ofthe business. In taking notes, you have to discard what you don’t need. If you[photocopy] it, you haven’t chewed it.”