20 Matching Annotations
  1. Last 7 days
    1. In explaining his approach, Luhmann emphasized, with the first stepsof computer technology in mind, the benefits of the principle of “multiple storage”: in the card index itserves to provide different avenues of accessing a topic or concept since the respective notes may be filedin different places and different contexts. Conversely, embedding a topic in various contexts gives rise todifferent lines of information by means of opening up different realms of comparison in each case due tothe fact that a note is an information only in a web of other notes. Furthermore it was Luhmann’s intentionto “avoid premature systematization and closure and maintain openness toward the future.”11 His way oforganizing the collection allows for it to continuously adapt to the evolution of his thinking and his overalltheory which as well is not conceptualized in a hierarchical manner but rather in a cybernetical way inwhich every term or theoretical concept is dependent on the other.

      While he's couching it in the computer science milieu of his day, this is not dissimilar to the Llullan combinatorial arts.

  2. Jan 2022
    1. the Llullian combinatory was not really different: by rotating and re-rotating wheels, the user always got the same combinations. One who had mastered this complicated mechanism would have nothing new to learn, despite the astonishing number of possible combinations. This machine was designed to

      repeat the known rather than to explore the unknown; therefore, it functioned as an engine of redundancy rather than as an engine of variety. 53

      1. This distinction is drawn from Blair, Too Much to Know, 236, who uses it with respect to early modern reference books.

      I'm not sure that I agree with this as the number of combinations can quickly become incredibly large.

    1. Serious reading will require just as much effort as it has always required.

      Reading is hard to disrupt.

      Speeding up and dramatically improving the reading process is incredibly difficult. No one has yet made really huge strides in this space. Google has made it imminently more accessible to the masses, but it still requires a lot of physical work and processing on our part.

  3. Dec 2021
    1. In fact, the methodical use of notebooks changed the relationship between natural memory and artificial memory, although contemporaries did not immediately realize it. Historical research supports the idea that what was once perceived as a memory aid was now used as secondary memory.18

      During the 16th century there was a transition in educational centers from using the natural and artificial memories to the methodical use of notebooks and commonplace books as a secondary memory saved by means of writing.

      This allows people in some sense to "forget" what they've read and learned and be surprised by it again later. They allow themselves to create liminal memories which may be refreshed and brought to the center later. Perhaps there is also some benefit in this liminal memory for allowing ideas to steep on the periphery before using them. Perhaps combinatorial creativity happens unconsciously?

      Cross reference: learning research by Barbara Oakley and Terry Sejnowski.

    2. In §§ 4–5, I examine the socio-evolutionary circumstances under which a closed combinatory, such as the one triggered by the Llullian art, was replaced by an open-ended combinatory, such as the one triggered by a card index based on removable entries. In early modernity, improvement in abstraction compelled scholars to abandon the idea that the order of knowledge should mirror the order of nature. This development also implied giving up the use of space as a type of externalization and as the main rule for checking consis-tency.

      F*ck! I've been scooped!

      Apparently I'm not the only one who has noticed this, though I notice that he doesn't cite Frances A. Yates, which would have certainly been the place for having come up with this historical background (at least that's where I found it.)


      The Llullian arts can be more easily practiced with ideas placed on moveable index cards than they might be with ideas stored in one's own memory. Thus the index card as a tool significantly decreases the overhead and provides an easier user interface for permuting one's ideas and combining them. This decrease in mental work appearing at a time of information overload also puts specific pressure on the older use of the art of memory to put it out of fashion.

    1. suggested by Gessner for bibliographical units on slips of paper in subject or alphabetical order, for the generation of new texts through recombination.

      This sort of recombination is also seen in the work of Raymond Llull, though there he did it in a specific combinatorial way and implemented it in his memory rather than on paper.

  4. Oct 2021
    1. sometimes you de- yelop a whole passage, not with the intention of completing it, but because it comes of itself and because inspiration is like grace, which passes by and does not come back.

      So very few modern sources describe annotation or note taking in these terms.

      I find often in my annotations, the most recent one just above is such a one, where I start with a tiny kernel of an idea and then my brain begins warming up and I put down some additional thoughts. These can sometimes build and turn into multiple sentences or paragraphs, other times they sit and need further work. But either way, with some work they may turn into something altogether different than what the original author intended or discussed.

      These are the things I want to keep, expand upon, and integrate into larger works or juxtapose with other broader ideas and themes in the things I am writing about.

      Sadly, we're just not teaching students or writers these tidbits or habits anymore.

      Sönke Ahrens mentions this idea in his book about Smart Notes. When one is asked to write an essay or a paper it is immensely difficult to have a perch on which to begin. But if one has been taking notes about their reading which is of direct interest to them and which can be highly personal, then it is incredibly easy to have a starting block against which to push to begin what can be either a short sprint or a terrific marathon.

      This pattern can be seen by many bloggers who surf a bit of the web, read what others have written, and use those ideas and spaces as a place to write or create their own comments.

      Certainly this can involve some work, but it's always nicer when the muses visit and the words begin to flow.

      I've now written so much here in this annotation that this note here, is another example of this phenomenon.

      With some hope, by moving this annotation into my commonplace book (or if you prefer the words notebook, blog, zettelkasten, digital garden, wiki, etc.) I will have it to reflect and expand upon later, but it'll also be a significant piece of text which I might move into a longer essay and edit a bit to make a piece of my own.

      With luck, I may be able to remedy some of the modern note taking treatises and restore some of what we've lost from older traditions to reframe them in an more logical light for modern students.

      I recall being lucky enough to work around teachers insisting I use note cards and references in my sixth grade classes, but it was never explained to me exactly what this exercise was meant to engender. It was as if they were providing the ingredients for a recipe, but had somehow managed to leave off the narrative about what to do with those ingredients, how things were supposed to be washed, handled, prepared, mixed, chopped, etc. I always felt that I was baking blind with no directions as to temperature or time. Fortunately my memory for reading on shorter time scales was better than my peers and it was only that which saved my dishes from ruin.

      I've come to see note taking as beginning expanded conversations with the text on the page and the other texts in my notebooks. Annotations in the the margins slowly build to become something else of my own making.

      We might compare this with the more recent movement of social annotation in the digital pedagogy space. This serves a related master, but seems a bit more tangent to it. The goal of social annotation seems to be to help engage students in their texts as a group. Reading for many of these students may be more foreign than it is to me and many other academics who make trade with it. Thus social annotation helps turn that reading into a conversation between peers and their text. By engaging with the text and each other, they get something more out of it than they might have if left to their own devices. The piece I feel is missing here is the modeling of the next several steps to the broader commonplacing tradition. Once a student has begun the path of allowing their ideas to have sex with the ideas they find on the page or with their colleagues, what do they do next? Are they being taught to revisit their notes and ideas? Sift them? Expand upon them. Place them in a storehouse of their best materials where they can later be used to write those longer essays, chapters, or books which may benefit them later?

      How might we build these next pieces into these curricula of social annotation to continue building on these ideas and principles?

  5. Aug 2021
    1. For the combinatorial logics used to make book catalogues at this time, see Garberson, ‘Libraries, Memory and theSpace of Knowledge’. See also Chapter 8, ‘The Library Catalogue’, in W. Clark, Academic Charisma and the Origins ofthe Research University (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2006).

      What influence, if any, would the ideas of Raymond Llull have had here?

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  6. Jul 2021
    1. The point of Zettelkasten is to digest each thing you read well so you don’t need to go back to look at it again.

      I don't agree with this viewpoint. Just like Heraclitus' river, the information in an article or book may not change, but there is a contextual change in the reader, in their thinking, their circumstances, and their time that may give them a different reading or perspective of the same material at later dates.

      Of course not all material is actually worth reading more than once either. But for some material a second or third reading may help them create new ideas and new links to prior ideas.

    1. Feature Idea: Chaos Monkey for PKM

      This idea is a bit on the extreme side, but it does suggest that having a multi-card comparison view in a PKM system would be useful.

      Drawing on Raymond Llull's combitorial memory system from the 12th century and a bit of Herman Ebbinghaus' spaced repetition (though this is also seen in earlier non-literate cultures), one could present two (or more) random atomic notes together as a way of juxtaposing disparate ideas from one's notes.

      The spaced repetition of the cards would be helpful for one's long term memory of the ideas, but it could also have the secondary effect of nudging one to potentially find links or connections between the two ideas and help to spur creativity for the generation of new hybrid ideas or connection to other current ideas based on a person's changed context.

      I've thought about this in the past (most likely while reading Frances Yates' Art of Memory), but don't think I've bothered to write it down (or it's hiding in untranscribed marginalia).

    1. I suspect that rather than being totally dreary, this transcribing step can also be a creative step, and I will see patterns of thought, generate new ideas…

      On the value of revising and revisiting notes. Similar to Raymond Llull's combinatorial creativity, but in a different form which doesn't require memory the same way.

  7. May 2021
    1. Markus Krajewski reminds us that Luhmann’s choice of interlocutor has a precedent in an 1805 piece by the novelist Heinrich von Kleist (see the chapter “Paper as Passion” in this collection).

      <small><cite class='h-cite via'> <span class='p-author h-card'>Daniela K. Helbig </span> in  Ruminant machines: a twentieth-century episode in the material history of ideas - JHI Blog (<time class='dt-published'>05/12/2021 21:27:02</time>)</cite></small>

    1. Lichtenberg’s quips: “Oh how many ideas aren’t hovering dispersed in my head! Quite a few pairs among those could provoke the greatest discovery if only they came together. But isolated from one another they lie, just like the sulphur from the city of Goslar lies isolated from East Indian nitre and from Oaksfield coal dust when jointly they could produce gunpowder!”

      Lichtenberg teasing around the idea of combinatorial creativity.

  8. Oct 2020
    1. What if the best tools for thought have already been discovered? In other words, perhaps the 1960s and 1970s were an unrepeatable golden age, and all we can expect in the future is gradual incremental improvement, and perhaps the occasional major breakthrough, at a decreasing frequency?

      Many have been, but they've been forgotten and need to be rediscovered and repopularized as well as refined.

      Once this has happened, perhaps others may follow. Ideas like PAO are incredibly valuable ones that hadn't previously existed, but were specially built for remembering specific types of information. How can we combinatorially use some of these other methods to create new and interesting ones for other types of tools?

    2. I want creativity!

      For this one need look no further than Ramond Lull...

  9. Jun 2020
    1. This argument is reinforced by the fact that, at the individual level, we meet many brilliant people who are fascinated by (and often working on) tools for thought, but who nonetheless seem to be making slow progress.

      Ideas have sex: the trouble in a dramatically increasing landscape of information that we've experienced over the last century alone is that the combinatoric interactions of all the ideas is also much slower, so the progress on this front may seem to slow while the body of knowledge and interactions is continually growing. This might make for an interesting graph.

  10. May 2020
    1. The aim of these books wasn’t regurgitation but rather combinatorial creativity. People were encouraged to improvise on themes and topics. Gathering raw material alone — in this case, information — is not enough. We must transform it into something new. It is in this light that Seneca advised copying the bee and Einstein advised combinatorial play.

      I was really hoping for so much more in this essay on the combinatorial creativity, espcially since the author threw the idea into the title. The real meat must be in the two linked articles about Seneca and Einstein.

      There is a slight mention of combinatorics in the justaposition of pieces within one's commonplace book, and a mention that these books may date back to the 12th century where they were probably more influenced by the combinatoric creativity of Raymond Lull. It's still an open question for me just how far back the idea of commonplaces goes as well as how far back Lull's combinatoric pieces go...