4 Matching Annotations
  1. May 2021
    1. For almost a decade from ~1988 I kept my reading & research commonplace book in Persoft's IZE, a DOS textbase -- orphaned all too soon -- that did simple but very useful things with keywords presented in an indented hierarchy. The more entries and keywords I gave it, the more the hierarchies took on increasingly interesting and suggestive sequences; i.e. they looked more like *outlines.* IZE seemed to understand the content of the passages.

      Noting that the idea of commonplace book appears here in the comments.

    2. Over the past few years of working with this approach, I've learned a few key principles. The system works for three reasons: 1) The DevonThink software does a great job at making semantic connections between documents based on word frequency. 2) I have pre-filtered the results by selecting quotes that interest me, and by archiving my own prose. The signal-to-noise ratio is so high because I've eliminated 99% of the noise on my own. 3) Most of the entries are in a sweet spot where length is concerned: between 50 and 500 words. If I had whole eBooks in there, instead of little clips of text, the tool would be useless.

      Stephen Johnson describes the reasons he thinks his DevonThink writing process works with semantic search.

    1. But I'm not at all confident I would have made the initial connection without the help of the software. The idea was a true collaboration, two very different kinds of intelligence playing off each other, one carbon-based, the other silicon.

      Stephen Johnson uses the word collaboration to describe his interaction with his own notes in DevonThink, much the way Niklas Luhmann describes with working with his Zettlekasten.

      I'll also note that here in 2005, Johnson doesn't mention the idea of a commonplace book the way he does just a few years later.

    1. An interesting take from a significant modern researcher/writer about commonplaces in the digital era. He's particularly enamoured of the fact that Evernote dovetails with Google searches to show details from his own notebooks which he's saved in the past.

      Search in commonplace books is definitely a must have feature.