30 Matching Annotations
  1. Aug 2022
    1. I know a lot of people use Evernote for this but I think physical is better. You want to be able to move the stuff around.

      Holiday prefers physical index cards over digital systems like Evernote because he wants to have the ability to "move the stuff around."

  2. Jul 2022
    1. THE ART OF NOTE-TAKING

      Beatrice Webb's suggestions: - Use sheets of paper and not notebooks, specifically so one can re-arrange, shuffle, and resort one's notes - She uses quarto pages as most convenient (quarto sizes have varied over time, but presumably hers were in the range of 8.5 x 11" sheets of paper, and thus rather large compared to index cards

      It takes some careful attention, but her description of her method and how she used it in a pre-computer era is highly indicative of the fact that Beatrice Webb was actively creating a paper database system which she could then later query to compile data to either elicit insight or to prove answers to particular questions.

      She specifically advises that one keep one and only one sort of particular types of data on each card whether that be dates, locations, subjects, or categories of facts. This is directly equivalent to the modern database design of only keeping one value in a particular field. As a result, each sheet within her notes might be equivalent to a row of related data which might contain a variety of different types of individual data. By not mixing data on individual sheets one can sort and resort their tables and effectively search through them without confusing data types.

      Her work and examples here would have been in the period of 1890 and 1910 (she specifically cites that this method was used for her research on the "principles of 1834" which was subsequently published as English Poor Law Policy in 1910) at a time after Basile Bouchon and Joseph Marie Jacquard and contemporaneously with Herman Hollerith who were using punched cards for some of this sort of work.

    2. An instance may be given of the necessity of the “ separate sheet ” system.Among the many sources of information from which we constructed our bookThe Manor and the Borough were the hundreds of reports on particular boroughsmade by the Municipal Corporation Commissioners in 1835 .These four hugevolumes are well arranged and very fully indexed; they were in our own possession;we had read them through more than once; and we had repeatedly consulted themon particular points. We had, in fact, used them as if they had been our own boundnotebooks, thinking that this would suffice. But, in the end, we found ourselvesquite unable to digest and utilise this material until we had written out every oneof the innumerable facts on a separate sheet of paper, so as to allow of the mechanicalabsorption of these sheets among our other notes; of their complete assortment bysubjects; and of their being shuffled and reshuffled to test hypotheses as to suggestedco-existences and sequences.

      Webb's use case here sounds like she's got the mass data, but that what she really desired was a database which she could more easily query to do her work and research. As a result, she took the flat file data and made it into a manually sortable and searchable database.

    3. By the method of note-taking that I have described, it was practicableto sort out all our thousands of separate pieces of paper according toany, or successively according to all, of these categories or combinationof categories

      The broad description of Beatrice Webb's note taking system sounds almost eerily like the idea behind edge notched cards, however in her case she was writing note in particular locations on cards in an effort to help her cause rather than putting physical punch holes into them.

    4. “ Every one agrees nowadays ”, observethe most noted French writers on the study of history, “ that it is advisable to collectmaterials on separate cards or slips of paper. . . . The advantages of this artifice areobvious; the detachability of the slips enables us to group them at will in a host ofdifferent combinations; if necessary, to change their places; it is easy to bring textsof the same kind together, and to incorporate additions, as they are acquired, in theinterior of the groups to which they belong ” (Introduction to the Study of History,by Charles Langlois and Charles Seignobos, translated by C. G. Berry, 1898, p.103). “
    1. Beyond the cards mentioned above, you should also capture any hard-to-classify thoughts, questions, and areas for further inquiry on separate cards. Regularly go through these to make sure that you are covering everything and that you don’t forget something.I consider these insurance cards because they won’t get lost in some notebook or scrap of paper, or email to oneself.

      Julius Reizen in reviewing over Umberto Eco's index card system in How to Write a Thesis, defines his own "insurance card" as one which contains "hard-to-classify thoughts, questions, and areas for further inquiry". These he would keep together so that they don't otherwise get lost in the variety of other locations one might keep them

      These might be akin to Ahrens' "fleeting notes" but are ones which may not easily or even immediately be converted in to "permanent notes" for one's zettelkasten. However, given their mission critical importance, they may be some of the most important cards in one's repository.

      link this to - idea of centralizing one's note taking practice to a single location

      Is this idea in Eco's book and Reizen is the one that gives it a name since some of the other categories have names? (examples: bibliographic index cards, reading index cards (aka literature notes), cards for themes, author index cards, quote index cards, idea index cards, connection cards). Were these "officially" named and categorized by Eco?

      May be worthwhile to create a grid of these naming systems and uses amongst some of the broader note taking methods. Where are they similar, where do they differ?


      Multi-search tools that have full access to multiple trusted data stores (ostensibly personal ones across notebooks, hard drives, social media services, etc.) could potentially solve the problem of needing to remember where you noted something.

      Currently, in the social media space especially, this is not a realized service.

  3. Jun 2022
    1. You may prefer notebooks to cards for note taking-very well:use what you like, but invariably; it will save you time andannoyance. If you use cards , use small ones (3" x 5") so that youuse a separate card for each fact, title, or memorandum toyourself. The cards are then easily shuffled for grouping. If youuse a notebook, leave a margin for the key word, letter, or num-ber which you will insert later as an index to the contents.
  4. May 2022
    1. The last element in his file system was an index, from which hewould refer to one or two notes that would serve as a kind of entrypoint into a line of thought or topic.

      Indices are certainly an old construct. One of the oldest structured examples in the note taking space is that of John Locke who detailed it in Méthode nouvelle de dresser des recueils (1685), later translated into English as A New Method of Organizing Common Place Books (1706).

      Previously commonplace books had been structured with headwords done alphabetically. This meant starting with a preconceived structure and leaving blank or empty space ahead of time without prior knowledge of what would fill it or how long that might take. By turning that system on its head, one could fill a notebook from front to back with a specific index of the headwords at the end. Then one didn't need to do the same amount of pre-planning or gymnastics over time with respect to where to put their notes.

      This idea combined with that of Konrad Gessner's design for being able to re-arrange slips of paper (which later became index cards based on an idea by Carl Linnaeus), gives us an awful lot of freedom and flexibility in almost any note taking system.


      Building blocks of the note taking system

      • atomic ideas
      • written on (re-arrangeable) slips, cards, or hypertext spaces
      • cross linked with each other
      • cross linked with an index
      • cross linked with references

      are there others? should they be broken up differently?


      Godfathers of Notetaking

      • Aristotle, Cicero (commonplaces)
      • Seneca the Younger (collecting and reusing)
      • Raymond Llull (combinatorial rearrangements)
      • Konrad Gessner (storage for re-arrangeable slips)
      • John Locke (indices)
      • Carl Linnaeus (index cards)
  5. Apr 2022
    1. It is notinsignificant either that among the illustrations of the Roland Barthes par RolandBarthes there are a series of facsimile reproductions of the author’s handwriting,analogic reproductions of linguistic graphemes, pieces of writing silenced,abstracted from the universe of discourse by their photographic reproduction. Inparticular, as we have seen, the three index cards are reproduced not for the sakeof their content, not for their signified, but for a reality-effect value for which ourexpanding taste, says Barthes, encompasses the fashion of diaries, of testimonials,of historical documents, and, most of all, the massive development of photogra-

      phy. In that sense, the reproduction of these three slips ironically resonates, if on a different scale, with the world tour of the mask of Tutankhamen. It refers, if not to the magic silence of a relic, at least to the ghostly parergonal quality of what French language calls a reliquat.

      Hollier argues that Barthes' reproduced cards are not only completely divorced from their original context and use, but that they are reproduced for the sheen of reality and artistic fashion they convey to the reader. So much thought, value, and culture is lost in the worship of these items in this setting compared to their original context.

      This is closely linked to the same sort of context collapse highlighted by the photo of Chief William Berens seated beside the living stones of his elders in Tim Ingold's Why Anthropology Matters. There we only appreciate the sense of antiquity, curiosity, and exoticness of an elder of a culture that is not ours. These rocks, by very direct analogy, are the index cards of the zettelkasten of an oral culture.

      Black and white photo of a man in Western dress (pants, white shirt, and vest) sits on a rock with a forrest in the background. Beside him are several large round, but generally otherwise unremarkable rocks. Chief William Berens seated beside the living stones of his elders; a picture taken by A. Irving Hallowell in 1930, between Grand Rapids and Pikangikum, Ontario, Canada. (American Philosophical Society)

    2. Hollier, Denis. “Notes (On the Index Card).” October 112, no. Spring (2005): 35–44. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3397642

      Read: 2022-04-20 15:36

      Interesting material on Barthes' use of note cards, though not in depth. Some interesting discussion on the idea of autobiography from a philosophical perspective.

      The first five sections were interesting to me, the last two a bit denser and not as clear or interesting without additional context.

    1. In one interview, Barthes lists the fragment among the ‘twenty keywords’ most important to him (see Barthes, 1991: 205-211).
    2. Krapp argues that, despite its ‘respectablelineage’, the card index generally ‘figures only as an anonymous,furtive factor in text generation, acknowledged – all the way into thetwentieth century – merely as a memory crutch’ (361).2 A keyreason for this is due to the fact that the ‘enlightened scholar isexpected to produce innovative thought’ (361); knowledgeproduction, and any prostheses involved in it, ‘became and remaineda private matter’ (361).

      'Memory crutch' implies a physical human failing that needs assistance rather than a phrase like aide-mémoire that doesn't draw that same attention.

    3. arthes’ use ofindex cards has been documented elsewhere (Krapp, 2006; Hollier,2005; Calvet, 1994)

      Roland Barthes' use of index cards has been documented by the following:

      Krapp, P. (2006) ‘Hypertext Avant La Lettre’, in W. H. K. Chun & T. Keenan (eds), New Media, Old Theory: A History and Theory Reader. New York: Routledge: 359-373.

      Hollier, D. (2005) ‘Notes (on the Index Card)’, October 112 (Spring): 35-44.

      Calvet, J.-L. (1994) Roland Barthes: A Biography. Trans. S. Wykes. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

    4. Calvet, J.-L. (1994) Roland Barthes: A Biography. Trans. S. Wykes.Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

      Includes some research on the use Roland Barthes made of index cards for note taking to create his output.

    5. Krapp, P. (2006) ‘Hypertext Avant La Lettre’, in W. H. K. Chun & T.Keenan (eds), New Media, Old Theory: A History and Theory Reader.New York: Routledge: 359-373.
    6. Denis Hollier, in an essayon index card use by Barthes and Michel Leiris, argues that Leiris’use of index cards in writing his autobiography results in ‘asecondary, indirect autobiography, originating not from thesubject’s innermost self, but from the stack of index cards (theautobiographical shards) in the little box on the author’s desk’(Hollier, 2005: 39).

      Wait, what?! Someone's written an essay on index card use by these two?!

    1. Henri Cartier-Bresson, Roland Barthes, 1963. © PAR79520 Henri CartierBresson/Magnum Photos.

      A photo of Roland Barthes from 1963 featured in Picturing Barthes: The Photographic Construction of Authorship (Oxford University Press, 2020) DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266670.003.0007

      There appears to be in index card file behind him in the photo, which he may have used for note taking in the mode of a zettelkasten.

      link to journal article notes on:

      Wilken, Rowan. “The Card Index as Creativity Machine.” Culture Machine 11 (2010): 7–30. https://culturemachine.net/creative-media/

    1. anadvocate for the index card in the early twentieth century, for example, called forthe use of index cards in imitation of “accountants of the modern school.”32

      Zedelmaier argues that scholarly methods of informa- tion management inspired bureaucratic information management; see Zedelmaier (2004), 203.

      Go digging around here for links to the history of index cards, zettelkasten, and business/accounting.

  6. Feb 2022
    1. Therefore, they were frequently used as lottery tickets, marriage and death announcements, notepads, or busi-ness cards.

      With blank backs, French playing cards in the late 1700s were often used as lottery tickets, marriage and death announcements, notepads, and business cards.

    1. cut out paper as Luhmann hadto.

      On the back of his notes, you will find not only manuscript drafts, but also old bills or drawings by his children. [footnote]

      While it's possible that Luhmann may have cut some of his own paper, by the time he was creating his notes the mass manufacture of index cards of various sizes was ubiquitous enough that he should never have had to cut his own. He certainly wasn't forced to manufacture them the way Carl Linnaeus had to.

  7. Jan 2022
    1. ow about using a scratch pad slightly smaller than the page-size of the book -- so that the edges of the sheets won't protrude?

      Interesting to note here that he suggests a scratch pad rather than index cards here given his own personal use of index cards.

  8. Dec 2021
    1. index card file

      Given the use case that Niklas Luhmann had, the translation of zettelkasten into English is better read as "index card file" rather than the simpler and more direct translation "slip box".

      While it's not often talked about in the recent contexts, there is a long history of using index cards for note taking in the United States and the idea of an index card file was once ubiquitous. There has been such a long span between this former ubiquity and our digital modernity that the idea of a zettelkasten seems like a wondrous new tool, never seen before. As a result, people in within social media, the personal knowledge management space, or the tools for thought space will happily use the phrase zettelkasten as if it is the hottest and newest thing on the planet.

  9. Aug 2021
    1. https://kimberlyhirsh.com/2018/06/29/a-starttofinish-literature.html

      Great overview of a literature review with some useful looking links to more specifics on note taking methods.

      Most of the newer note taking tools like Roam Research, Obsidian, etc. were not available or out when she wrote this. I'm curious how these may have changed or modified her perspective versus some of the other catch-as-catch-can methods with pen/paper/index cards/digital apps?

    1. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/washington/2011-05-08-reagan-notes-book-brinkley_n.htm

      An article indicating that President Ronald Reagan kept a commonplace book throughout his life. He maintained it on index cards, often with as many as 10 entries per card. The article doesn't seem to indicate that there was any particular organization, index, or taxonomy involved.

      It's now housed at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA.

  10. May 2021
    1. Media theorist Markus Krajewski has devoted a book specifically to the paper machinery of cards and catalogs. He traces the origins of this machinery back to sixteenth-century attempts at indexing books, and through the twists and turns of library technology in Europe and the U.S. over the following centuries.
  11. Aug 2019
    1. Context notes are used as a map to a series of notes. A context note that outlines a more complex concept or broader subject, using links to other notes in the process. For example, while I’m reading a book, I build an outline of the things I find relevant, based on my highlights and notes of the book. Each of the outline’s items links to a separate note explaining the idea in more detail, and usually contains the highlighted text of the book.
    2. The basic idea behind Zettelkasten is to build a repository of the knowledge you gain through the years. The idea is similar to what Paul Jun, of Creative Mastery, writes about keeping a Commonplace Book, or Ryan Holiday’s notecard system. Zettelkasten adds the powerful idea of linking notes to create a web of interlinked knowledge.