38 Matching Annotations
  1. Jan 2023
    1. It’s far more complicated than that, obviously. Different parts of this process are going on all the time. While working on one chapter, I’m also capturing and working on unrelated—for the time being at least—notes on other topics that interest me, including stuff that might well end up in future books.

      Because reading, annotating/note taking, and occasional outlining and writing can be broken down into small, concrete building blocks, each part of the process can be done separately and discretely with relatively easy ability to shift from one part of the process to another.

      Importantly, one can be working on multiple different high level projects (content production: writing, audio, video, etc.) simultaneously in a way which doesn't break the flow of one's immediate reading. While a particular note within a piece may not come to fruition within a current imagined project, it may spark an idea for a future as yet unimagined project.


      Aside: It would seem that Ryan Holiday's descriptions of his process are discrete with respect to each individual project. He's never mentioned using or reusing notes from past projects for current or future projects. He's even gone to the level that he creates custom note cards for his current project which have a title pre-printed on them.

      Does this pre-titling help to provide him with more singular focus for his specific workflow? Some who may be prone to being side-tracked or with specific ADHD issues may need or be helped by these visual and workflow cues to stay on task, and as a result be helped by them. For others it may hinder their workflows and creativity.

      This process may be different for beginning students or single project writers versus career writers (academics, journalists, fiction and non-fiction writers).


      As a concrete example of the above, I personally made a note here about Darwin and Lamarck for a separate interest in evolution which falls outside of my immediate area of interest with respect to note taking and writing output.

    1. I couldn’t have written this book without the aid of laying out all of thedifferent sections on my desk. I created a hub of cards that had collectivecardlinks on them. Each card was organized by topic and contained subtopicsthat pointed me to various card addresses in my Antinet. I then moved themaround a large table to create the perfect logical layout for this book. Here’sa picture of it:

      Despite doing the lion's share of the work of linking cards along the way, Scheper shows that there's still some work of laying out an outline and moving cards around to achieve a final written result.


      compare this with Victor Margolin's process: https://hypothes.is/a/oQFqvm3IEe2_Fivwvx596w

      also compare with the similar processes of Ryan Holiday and Robert Greene

  2. Dec 2022
    1. https://edward-slingerland.medium.com/there-is-only-one-way-to-write-a-book-637535ef5bde

      Example of someone's research, note taking, and writing process using index cards.

      Broadly, this is very similar to the process used by Ryan Holiday, Robert Green, and Victor Margolin.

      While he can't recall the name of the teacher, he credits his 7th grade English teacher (1980-1981) for teaching him the method.


      Edward Slingerland is represented by Brockman Inc.

  3. Nov 2022
    1. 3/ Champion your competition’s work<br><br>With his reading list email, on podcasts, in his bookstore, Ryan promotes other books more than his own.<br><br>When asked, he’ll say:<br><br>“Authors think they’re competing with other authors. They’re not. They’re competing with people not reading.”

      — Billy Oppenheimer (@bpoppenheimer) August 24, 2022
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    1. Oppenheimer, Billy. “The Notecard System: Capture, Organize, and Use Everything You Read, Watch, and Listen To.” Billy Oppenheimer (blog), August 26, 2022. https://billyoppenheimer.com/notecard-system/.

    2. In this article, I am going to explain my adapted version of the notecard system.

      Note that he explicitly calls out that his is an adapted version of a preexisting thing--namely a system that was taught to Ryan Holiday who was taught by Robert Greene.

      Presumably there is both some economic and street cred value for the author/influencer in claiming his precedents.

      It's worth noting that he mentions other famous users, though only the smallest fraction of them with emphasis up front on his teachers whose audience he shares financially.

    1. It's not an exaggeration: Nearly every dollar I've made in my adult life was earned first on the back or front (or both) of an index card.Everything I do, I do on index cards.
    1. https://www.instagram.com/p/CeWV6xBuZUN/?hl=en

      Ryan Holiday in the past has made custom 4 x 6" index cards for taking notes for his individual projects.

      Pictured: A custom slip with 11 light gray lines, small margins all around, and at the top the printed words: "Courage. Temperance. Justice. Wisdom."

      <small><cite class='h-cite via'> <span class='p-author h-card'>Billy Oppenheimer, research assistant to Ryan Holiday</span> in The Notecard System: Capture, Organize, and Use Everything You Read, Watch, and Listen To - Billy Oppenheimer (<time class='dt-published'>11/03/2022 16:53:44</time>)</cite></small>

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      I used to do this sort of practice before, but I used buckslips instead.

  4. Oct 2022
    1. What if something happened to your box? My house recently got robbed and I was so fucking terrified that someone took it, you have no idea. Thankfully they didn’t. I am actually thinking of using TaskRabbit to have someone create a digital backup. In the meantime, these boxes are what I’m running back into a fire for to pull out (in fact, I sometimes keep them in a fireproof safe).

      His collection is incredibly important to him. He states this in a way that's highly reminiscent of Jean Paul.

      "In the event of a fire, the black-bound excerpts are to be saved first." —instructions from Jean Paul to his wife before setting off on a trip in 1812 #

    1. Nicht wenige Kästen sind nur für ein einziges Buch angelegt worden, Siegfried Kracauers Sammlungen etwa zu seiner Monographie über Jacques Offenbach, das Bildarchiv des Historikers Reinhart Koselleck mit Abteilungen Tausender Fotos von Reiterdenkmälern beispielsweise oder der Kasten des Romanisten Hans Robert Jauß, in dem er für seine Habilitationsschrift mittelalterliche Tiernamen und -eigenschaften verzettelte.

      machine translation (Google)

      Quite a few boxes have been created for just one book, Siegfried Kracauer's collections for his monograph on Jacques Offenbach, for example, the photo archive of the historian Reinhart Koselleck with sections of thousands of photos of equestrian monuments, for example, or the box by the Romanist Hans Robert Jauß, in which he wrote for his Habilitation dissertation bogged down medieval animal names and characteristics.

      A zettelkasten need not be a lifetime practice and historically many were created for supporting a specific project or ultimate work. Examples can be seen in the work of both Robert Green and his former assistant Ryan Holiday who kept separate collections for each of their books, as well as those displayed at the German Literature Archive in Marbach (2013) including Siegfried Kracauer (for a monograph on Jacques Offenbach), Reinhart Koselleck (equestrian related photos), Hans Robert Jauß (a dissertation on medieval animal names and characteristics).

    1. Film making is like note taking

      Incidentally, one should note that the video is made up of snippets over time and then edited together at some later date. Specifically, these snippets are much like regularly taken notes which can then be later used (and even re-used--some could easily appear in other videos) to put together some larger project, namely this compilation video of his process. Pointing out this parallel between note taking and movie/videomaking, makes the note taking process much more easily seen, specifically for students. Note taking is usually a quite and solo endeavor done alone, which makes it much harder to show and demonstrate. And when it is demonstrated or modeled, it's usually dreadfully boring and uninteresting to watch compared to seeing it put together and edited as a finished piece. Edits in a film are visually obvious while the edits in written text, even when done poorly, are invisible.

    2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dU7efgGEOgk

      I wish he'd gotten into more of the detail of the research and index card making here as that's where most of the work lies. He does show some of his process of laying out and organizing the cards into some sort of sections using 1/3 cut tabbed cards. This is where his system diverges wildly from Luhmann's. He's now got to go through all the cards and do some additional re-reading and organizational work to put them into some sort of order. Luhmann did this as he went linking ideas and organizing them up front. This upfront work makes the back side of laying things out and writing/editing so much easier. It likely also makes one more creative as one is regularly revisiting ideas, juxtaposing them, and potentially generating new ones along the way rather than waiting until the organization stage to have some of this new material "fall out".

    1. https://lifehacker.com/the-pile-of-index-cards-system-efficiently-organizes-ta-1599093089

      LifeHacker covers the Hawk Sugano's Pile of Index Cards method, which assuredly helped promote it to the GTD and productivity crowd.

      One commenter notices the similarities to Ryan Holiday's system and ostensibly links to https://thoughtcatalog.com/ryan-holiday/2013/08/how-and-why-to-keep-a-commonplace-book/

      Two others snarkily reference using such a system to "keep track of books in the library [,,,] Sort them out using decimal numbers on index cards in drawers or something..." and "I need to tell my friend Dewey about this! He would run with it." Obviously they see the intellectual precursors and cousins of the method, though they haven't looked at the specifics very carefully.

      One should note that this may have been one of the first systems to mix information management/personal knowledge management with an explicit Getting Things Done set up. Surely there are hints of this in the commonplace book tradition, but are there any examples that go this far?

    1. Index cards for commonplacing?

      I know that Robert Greene and Ryan Holiday have talked about their commonplace methods using index cards before, and Mortimer J. Adler et al. used index cards with commonplacing methods in their Great Books/Syntopicon project, but is anyone else using this method? Where or from whom did you learn/hear about using index cards? What benefits do you feel you're getting over a journal or notebook-based method? Mortimer J. Adler smoking a pipe amidst a sea of index cards in boxes with 102 topic labels (examples: Law, World, Love, Life, Being, Sin, Art, Citizen, Change, etc.)

  5. Aug 2022
    1. https://thoughtcatalog.com/ryan-holiday/2013/08/how-and-why-to-keep-a-commonplace-book/

      An early essay from Ryan Holiday about commonplace books including how, why, and their general value.

      Notice that the essay almost reads as if he's copying out cards from his own system. This is highlighted by the fact that he adds dashes in front 23 of his paragraphs/points.

    2. I’ve been keeping my commonplace books in variety of forms for 6 or 7 years. But I’m just getting started.

      In August 2013 Ryan Holiday said that he'd been commonplacing for "6 or 7 years".

    3. Don’t let it pile up. A lot of people mark down passages or fold pages of stuff they like. Then they put of doing anything with it. I’ll tell you, nothing will make your procrastinate like seeing a giant pile of books you have to go through and take notes on it. You can avoid this by not letting it pile up. Don’t go months or weeks without going through the ritual. You have to stay on top of it.
    4. Don’t worry about organization…at least at first. I get a lot of emails from people asking me what categories I organize my notes in. Guess what? It doesn’t matter. The information I personally find is what dictates my categories. Your search will dictate your own. Focus on finding good stuff and the themes will reveal themselves.

      Ryan Holiday's experience and advice indicates that he does little organization and doesn't put emphasis on categories for organization. He advises "Focus on finding good stuff and the themes will reveal themselves."

      This puts him on a very particular part of the spectrum in terms of his practice.

    5. Ronald Reagan actually kept quotes on a similar notecard system.

      By at least 2013 Ryan Holiday was aware of Ronald Reagan's note card system from a 2011 USA Today article and related book.

    6. I use 4×6 ruled index cards, which Robert Greene introduced me to. I write the information on the card, and the theme/category on the top right corner. As he figured out, being able to shuffle and move the cards into different groups is crucial to getting the most out of them.

      Ryan Holiday keeps a commonplace book on 4x6 inch ruled index cards with a theme or category written in the top right corner. He learned his system from Robert Greene.

      Of crucial importance to him was the ability to shuffle the cards and move them around.

    1. https://lifehacker.com/im-ryan-holiday-and-this-is-how-i-work-1485776137

      An influential productivity article from 2013-12-18 that is seen quoted over the blogosphere for the following years that broadened the idea of the commonplace book and the later popularity of the zettelkasten.

      Note that zettelkasten.de was just starting up at about this time period, though it follows the work of Manfred Kuehn's note taking blog.

    2. I use the same 4x6 index cards I use for my commonplace book to write down my daily tasks

      Ryan Holiday's note taking practice extends to using the same 4x6 inch index cards for his to do lists.

    3. I can't tell you how many times I've rushed home from a run and shouted, "Nobody talk to me, I have to write this down!" while I dripped sweat all over my computer or my note cards as frantically tried to get it down before I lost the thought.

      Evidence that Ryan Holiday doesn't have any memory practice.

      Surprising?...

    4. 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."

    5. It's several thousand 4x6 notecards—based on a system taught to by my mentor Robert Greene when I was his research assistant—that have ideas, notes on books I liked, quotes that caught my attention, research for projects or phrases I am kicking around.

      Ryan Holiday learned his index card-based commonplace book system from writer Robert Greene for whom he worked as an assistant.

    6. My Commonplace Book (pictured above) is the first thing I'm taking out of my house in a fire.

      As a strong indicator of how important his commonplace book is, Ryan Holiday not only indicates that it's the tool he can't live without but he says it "is the first thing I'm taking out of my house in a fire."

      Link to: - https://hypothes.is/a/KCnrXMdHEeyxz3sZy3Uo5g

      Cross reference with his fears of robbery as well: - https://hypothes.is/a/BLL9TvZ9EeuSIrsiWKCB9w

  6. Jul 2022
    1. I think this one will be of interest to you

      Thanks! Robert Greene's method has also been heavily written about by Ryan Holiday who worked for him, used it subsequently, and has delineated the process in reasonable detail in several posts on his own blog and in Lifehacker in 2013/2014: - https://lifehacker.com/im-ryan-holiday-and-this-is-how-i-work-1485776137 - https://ryanholiday.net/how-and-why-to-keep-a-commonplace-book/ - https://ryanholiday.net/the-notecard-system-the-key-for-remembering-organizing-and-using-everything-you-read/

      Commonplacing goes back over two millenia and was very popular in the 1500-1800s. I'm specifically more interested in examples of refined heavily linked zk techniques as one "comes down the stretch". Thus far there are incredibly few public examples in the space...

    1. Realizing that my prior separate advice wasn't as actionable or specific, I thought I'd take another crack at your question.

      Some seem to miss the older techniques and names for this sort of practice and get too wound up in words like categories, tags, #hashtags, [[wikilinks]], or other related taxonomies and ontologies. Some become confounded about how to implement these into digital systems. Simplify things and index your ideas/notes the way one would have indexed books in a library card catalog, generally using subject, author and title.

      Since you're using an approach more grounded in the commonplace book tradition rather than a zettelkasten one, put an easy identifier on your note (this can be a unique title or number) and then cross reference it with any related subject headings or topical category words you find useful.

      Here's a concrete example, hopefully in reasonable detail that one can easily follow. Let's say you have a quote you want to save:

      No piece of information is superior to any other. Power lies in having them all on file and then finding the connections. There are always connections; you have only to want to find them.—Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum

      In a paper system you might give this card the identification number #237. (This is analogous to the Dewey Decimal number that might be put on a book to find it on the shelves.) You want to be able to find this quote in the future using the topical words "power", "information", "connections", and "quotes" for example. (Which topical headings you choose and why can be up to you, the goal is to make it easier to dig up for potential reuse in future contexts). So create a separate paper index with alphabetical headings (A-Z) and then write cards for your topical headings. Your card with "power" at the top will have the number #237 on it to indicate that that card is related to the word power. You'll ultimately have other cards that relate and can easily find everything related to "power" within your system by using this subject index.

      You might also want to file that quote under two other "topics" which will make it easy to find: primarily the author of the quote "Umberto Eco" and the title of the source Foucault's Pendulum. You can add these to your index the same way you did "power", "information", etc., but it may be easier or more logical to keep a bibliographic index separately for footnoting your material, so you might want a separate bibliographic index for authors and sources. If you do this, then create a card with Umberto Eco at the top and then put the number #237 on it. Later you'll add other numbers for other related ideas to Eco. You can then keep your card "Eco, Umberto" alphabetized with all the other authors you cite. You'll effect a similar process with the title.

      With this done, you now have a system in which you don't have to categorize a single idea in a single place. Regardless of what project or thing you're working on, you can find lots of related notes. If you're juggling multiple projects you can have an index file or document outline for these as well. So your book project on the History of Information could have a rough outline of the book on which you've got the number #237 in the chapter or place where you might use the quote.

      Hopefully this will be even more flexible than Holiday's system because that was broadly project based. In practice, if you're keeping notes over a lifetime, you're unlikely to be interested in dramatically different areas the way Ryan Holiday or Robert Greene were for disparate book projects, but will find more overlapping areas. Having a more flexible system that will allow you to reuse your notes for multiple settings or projects will be highly valuable.

      For those who are using digital systems, ask yourself: "what functions and features allow you to do these analog patterns most easily?" If you're using something like Obsidian which has #tagging functionality that automatically creates an index of all your tags, then leverage that and remove some of the manual process. The goal is to make sure the digital system is creating the structure to allow you to easily find and use your notes when you need them. If your note taking system doesn't have custom functionalities for any of these things, then you'll need to do more portions of them manually.

  7. Jun 2022
  8. danallosso.substack.com danallosso.substack.com
    1. https://danallosso.substack.com/p/note-cards?s=r

      Outline of one of Dan's experiments writing a handbook about reading, thinking, and writing. He's taking a zettelkasten-like approach, but doing it as a stand-alone project with little indexing and crosslinking of ideas or creating card addresses.

      This sounds more akin to the processes of Vladimir Nabokov and Ryan Holiday/Robert Greene.

  9. Oct 2021
    1. Holiday’s is project-based, or bucket-based.

      Ryan Holiday's system is a more traditional commonplace book approach with broad headings which can feel project-based or bucket-based and thus not as flexible or useful to some users.

  10. Aug 2021
    1. It’s not totally dissimilar to the Dewey Decimal system and old library card catalogs.

      Ryan Holiday notes the similarity of his method to that of the Dewey Decimal system and library card catalogs.

    2. -It looks like the system is also very similar to Luhmann’s Zettelkasten. Though again, his discipline seems to exceed mine because I am a lot less ordered.

      Ryan Holiday on 2014-04-01 mentioning Niklas Luhmann and his Zettelkasten and linking to another article.

      Note he doesn't use the phrase commonplace book here, though the comments includes it.