15 Matching Annotations
  1. Nov 2022
    1. On the general organisation of memory see Ashby 1967, p103. It is therefore important that one is not dependent on a myriad of point-by-point accesses, but to be able to rely on relations between notes, i.e. on references that make more available at once than one has in mind when following a search impulse or fixating on a thought

      Fascinating to see Ashby pop up in Luhmann's section on zettelkasten in part because Ashby had a similar note taking practice, though part notebook/part index card based, and was highly interested in systems theory.

  2. Aug 2022
    1. Posted byu/hog8541ss2 days agoUsing Notebooks With Your Antinet. .t3_wvn38a._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; } How are you guys using notebooks along with your Antinet? What uses do you still find feasible for using them?

      reply to: https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/wvn38a/using_notebooks_with_your_antinet/

      Ross Ashby, a systems theorist like Luhmann, had a sophisticated hybrid notebook/index card system that some here might find an interesting and usable model, particularly if they're enamored of the notebook format. It's been digitized and is online for perusal: http://www.rossashby.info/

  3. Jul 2022
    1. https://niklas-luhmann-archiv.de/bestand/zettelkasten/zettel/ZK_2_SW1_001_V

      One may notice that Niklas Luhmann's index within his zettelkasten is fantastically sparce. By this we might look at the index entry for "system" which links to only one card. For someone who spent a large portion of his life researching systems theory, this may seem fantastically bizarre.

      However, it's not as as odd as one may think given the structure of his particular zettelkasten. The single reference gives an initial foothold into his slip box where shuffling through cards beyond that idea will reveal a number of cards closely related to the topic which subsequently follow it. Regular use and work with the system would have allowed Luhmann better memory with respect to its contents and the searching through threads of thought would have potentially sparked new ideas and threads. Thus he didn't need to spend the time and effort to highly index each individual card, he just needed a starting place and could follow the links from there. This tends to minimize the indexing work he needed to do regularly, but simultaneously makes it harder for the modern person who may wish to read or consult those notes.

      Some of the difference here is the idea of top-down versus bottom-up construction. While thousands of his cards may have been tagged as "systems" or "systems theory", over time and with increased scale they would have become nearly useless as a construct. Instead, one may consider increasing levels of sub-topics, but these too may be generally useless with respect to (manual) search, so the better option is to only look at the smallest level of link (and/or their titles) which is only likely to link to 3-4 other locations outside of the card just before it. This greater specificity scales better over time on the part of the individual user who is broadly familiar with the system.


      Alternatively, for those in shared digital spaces who may maintain public facing (potentially shared) notes (zettelkasten), such sparse indices may not be as functional for the readers of such notes. New readers entering such material generally without context, will feel lost or befuddled that they may need to read hundreds of cards to find and explore the sorts of ideas they're actively looking for. In these cases, more extensive indices, digital search, and improved user interfaces may be required to help new readers find their way into the corpus of another's notes.


      Another related idea to that of digital, public, shared notes, is shared taxonomies. What sorts of word or words would one want to search for broadly to find the appropriate places? Certainly widely used systems like the Dewey Decimal System or the Universal Decimal Classification may be helpful for broadly crosslinking across systems, but this will take an additional level of work on the individual publishers.

      Is or isn't it worthwhile to do this in practice? Is this make-work? Perhaps not in analog spaces, but what about the affordances in digital spaces which are generally more easily searched as a corpus.


      As an experiment, attempt to explore Luhmann's Zettelkasten via an entryway into the index. Compare and contrast this with Andy Matuschak's notes which have some clever cross linking UI at the bottoms of the notes, but which are missing simple search functionality and have no tagging/indexing at all. Similarly look at W. Ross Ashby's system (both analog and digitized) and explore the different affordances of these two which are separately designed structures---the analog by Ashby himself, but the digital one by an institution after his death.

  4. Jun 2022
    1. The addressing system that many digital note taking systems offer is reminiscent of Luhmann's paper system where it served a particular use. Many might ask themselves if they really need this functionality in digital contexts where text search and other affordances can be more directly useful.

      Frequently missed by many, perhaps because they're befuddled by the complex branching numbering system which gets more publicity, Luhmann's paper-based system had a highly useful and simple subject heading index (see: https://niklas-luhmann-archiv.de/bestand/zettelkasten/zettel/ZK_2_SW1_001_V, for example) which can be replicated using either #tags or [[wikilinks]] within tools like Obsidian. Of course having an index doesn't preclude the incredible usefulness of directly linking one idea to potentially multiple others in some branching tree-like or network structure.

      Note that one highly valuable feature of Luhmann's paper version was that the totality of cards were linked to a minimum of at least one other card by the default that they were placed into the file itself. Those putting notes into Obsidian often place them into their system as singlet, un-linked notes as a default, and this can lead to problems down the road. However this can be mitigated by utilizing topical or subject headings on individual cards which allows for searching on a heading and then cross-linking individual ideas as appropriate.

      As an example, because two cards may be tagged with "archaeology" doesn't necessarily mean they're closely related as ideas. This tends to decrease in likelihood if one is an archaeologist and a large proportion of cards might contain that tag, but will simultaneously create more value over time as generic tags increase in number but the specific ideas cross link in small numbers. Similarly as one delves more deeply into archaeology, one will also come up with more granular and useful sub-tags (like Zooarcheology, Paleobotany, Archeopedology, Forensic Archeology, Archeoastronomy, Geoarcheology, etc.) as their knowledge in sub areas increases.

      Concretely, one might expect that the subject heading "sociology" would be nearly useless to Luhmann as that was the overarching topic of both of his zettelkästen (I & II), whereas "Autonomie" was much more specific and useful for cross linking a smaller handful of potentially related ideas in the future.

      Looking beyond Luhmann can be highly helpful in designing and using one's own system. I'd recommend taking a look at John Locke's work on indexing (1685) (https://publicdomainreview.org/collection/john-lockes-method-for-common-place-books-1685 is an interesting source, though you're obviously applying it to (digital) cards and not a notebook) or Ross Ashby's hybrid notebook/index card system which is also available online (http://www.rossashby.info/journal/index.html) as an example.

      Another helpful tip some are sure to appreciate in systems that have an auto-complete function is simply starting to write a wikilink with various related subject heading words that may appear within your system. You'll then be presented with potential options of things to link to serendipitously that you may not have otherwise considered. Within a digital zettelkasten, the popularly used DYAC (Damn You Auto Complete) may turn into Bless You Auto Complete.

  5. May 2022
    1. What is that tool under the pencil?

      Sorry, just seeing this now. It's assuredly a sliderule, which would have been a common tool for engineers and mathematicians of his era to have had. They became less common with the advent and proliferation of calculators.

  6. Feb 2022
    1. You can look up for yourself some ofhis notes on their website.[12] Soon, you will be able to access thewhole digitalised slip-box online.

      For those interested in looking at a system in English but with a slightly different form, but ostensibly similar, try W. Ross Ashby's digitized note collection: http://www.rossashby.info/

      Perhaps not coincidentally, Ashby was a research colleague of Luhmann's.

  7. Jan 2022
    1. As Luhmann noted,19 this concept goes back to the general structure

      of the brain modeled by W.R. Ashby:20 the capacity of the brain does not derive from a huge number of point-to-point-accesses but on the relations between the nodes (i.e. notes).

      Evidence that Niklas Luhmann was aware of W. Ross Ashby. The secondary question to be asked here: did they each know of each others' note taking methods and systems which are highly similar?

      Index card no. 9/8b of the second collection. (Niklas Luhmann)

  8. Dec 2021
    1. Bibliographical notes which we extract from the literature, should be captured inside the card index. Books, articles, etc., which we have actually read, should be put on a separate slip with bibliographical information in a separate box.

      Ross Ashby's note taking system, also within the field of systems theory, shows the use of an index card set up for bibliographical notes, however in Ashby's case, the primary notes were placed into notebooks and not onto note cards.

      Was there an ancestral link within the systems theory community that was spreading these ideas of note taking or were they (more likely) just so ubiquitous in the academic culture that such a link wouldn't have mattered?

      (Earlier ancestors like Beatrice Webb may have been a more influential link.)

    1. The unwritten rule of Cybernetics seems to be - Maintain the homeostasis until you break it for the better. #Cybernetics #Ashby

      This is a good rule of thumb for political science as well. Some of our issue in America right now is that we're seeing systemic racism and many want to change it, but we're not sure yet what to replace it with.

      The renaissance created scholasticism which created a new system, but too tightly wound religion into the humanist movement. Similarly Englightement Europe and America subsumed the indigenous critique, which opened up ideas about equality and freedom which hadn't existed, but they still kept the structures of hierarchy which have caused immeasurable issues. These movements are worth studying to see how the new systems were created, but with an eye toward more careful development so as not to make things even worse generations later.

  9. Oct 2021
    1. Retrodigitalisierung und Archivierung bedeutet weit mehr als Scannen, transkribieren und ordentlich wegspeichern. Die Digitalisierung des Zettelkastens scheint ein besonders komplexes Unterfangen zu sein, dass sehr spezifische Antworten und Lösungen erfordert. Können andere, ähnliche Projekte von Ihren Erfahrungen profitieren?

      Machine translation:

      Retro digitization and archiving means much more than just scanning, transcribing and storing properly. The digitization of the card box seems to be a particularly complex undertaking that requires very specific answers and solutions. Can other, similar projects benefit from your experience?

      It would be interesting to compare the digitization efforts of this process with that of W. Ross Ashby's notes: http://www.rossashby.info/.

  10. Aug 2021
    1. Indeed, Luhmann's system functions very much like a library, with the note cards corresponding to the books and the index corresponding to the subject catalogue.

      Useful analogy here.

      Similarly W. Ross Ashby had a set of commonplace books, but used a more traditional index card system to create his index.

    1. William Ross Ashby (1903-1972) was a British pioneer in the fields of cybernetics and systems theory. He is best known for proposing the law of requisite variety, the principle of self-organization, intelligence amplification, the good regulator theorem, building the automatically stabilizing Homeostat, and his books Design for a Brain (1952) and An Introduction to Cybernetics (1956).

    1. In 2003, Ross's family gave his journals, papers, and correspondence to the British Library, London. Then, in March 2004, on the last day of the W. Ross Ashby Centenary Conference, they announced the intention to make his journal available on the Internet. Four years later, this website fulfilled that promise, making this previously unpublished work available on-line.

      The journal consists of 7,189 numbered pages in 25 volumes, and over 1,600 index cards. To make it easy to browse purposefully through so many images, extensive cross-linking has been added that is based on the keywords in Ross's original keyword index.

      This definitely sounds like a commonplace book. Also an example of one which has been digitized.

    1. http://www.rossashby.info/origins.html

      This page looks like a zettelkasten card embedded into a commonplace book.He's cross linking ideas using page numbers. I wonder if he's also got headings as well?

    1. I am also interested in the work and method of Ross Ashby. His card index and notebooks have been put online by the British Commputer Society. I am fascinated by his law of requisite variety and how variety relates to complexity and its unfolding in general and in relation to design.

      Sounds like Ross Ashby kept a commonplace book here.

      Could be worth looking into: http://www.rossashby.info/ and digging further.