11 Matching Annotations
  1. Jan 2022
    1. In this spirit he castigated Alexander Harden as "an enemy of the spirit that was fed by a small mind with a large card index," taking up what appears to have been a common criticism of the author, who because of his style that relied overly much on quotations [Die Fackel, Heft 360-62 (1912)].

      Some of this critique relates to my classification about the sorts of notes that one takes. Some are more important or valuable than others.

      Some are for recall and later memory, some may be collection of ideas, but the highest seems to be linking different ideas and contexts together to create completely new and innovative ideas. If one is simply collecting sententiae and spewing them back out in reasonable contexts, this isn't as powerful as nurturing one's ideas to have sex.

  2. Dec 2021
    1. The role of accidents in the theory of science is not disputed, If you employ evolutionary models, accidents assume a most important role. Without them, nothing happens, no progress is made. Without variation in the given material of ideas, there are no possibilities of examining and selecting novelties. The real problem thus becomes therefore one of producing accidents with sufficiently enhanced probabilities for selection.
    2. The fixed filing place needs no system. It is sufficient that we give every slip a number which is easily seen (in or case on the left of the first line) and that we never change this number and thus the fixed place of the slip. This decision about structure is that reduction of the complexity of possible arrangements, which makes possible the creation of high complexity in the card file and thus makes possible its ability to communicate in the first place.

      There's an interesting analogy between Niklas Luhmann's zettelkasten numbering system and the early street address system in Vienna. Just as people (often) have a fixed address, they're able to leave it temporarily and mix with other people before going back home every night. The same is true with his index cards. Without the ability to remove cards and remix them in various orders, the system has far less complexity and simultaneously far less value.

      Link to reference of street addressing systems of Vienna quoted by Markus Krajewski in (chapter 3 of) Paper Machines.


      Both the stability and the occasional complexity of the system give it tremendous value.

      How is this linked to the idea that some of the most interesting things within systems happen at the edges of the system which have the most complexity? Cards that sit idly have less value for their stability while cards at the edges that move around the most and interact with other cards and ideas provide the most value.

      Graph this out on a multi-axis drawing. Is the relationship linear, non-linear, exponential? What is the relationship of this movement to the links between cards? Is it essentially the same (particularly in digital settings) as movement?

      Are links (and the active creation thereof) between cards the equivalent of communication?

    1. Every serious (academic) historical work includes a conversation with other scholarship, and this has largely carried over into popular historical writing.

      Any serious historical or other academic work should include a conversation with the body of other scholarship with which argues for or against.

      Comparing and contrasting one idea with another is crucial for any sort of advancement.

    1. Behind this order of paper slips that guarantees mobility and rearrange-ment, one can recognize the same economy of signs that a century earlier contributes to a major paradigmatic shift. Johannes Gutenberg ’ s invention of the printing press not only forges most obviously associations of typeset-ting, steel models, pouring mechanisms for individual letter types, special alloys, and composing sticks for setting lines of type. 28

      Much the same way printing was automated with Johannes Gutenberg's moveable type invention, the writing of longer pieces may be automated with moveable ideas. Ideas written down on slips (index cards) can be moved around easily and re-used as necessary in composing longer articles.

  3. Oct 2021
    1. have only your own ob- jective before your eyes, without regard to that of the author which may be quite different.

      When reading and taking notes, one should have a reason or purpose in mind and endeavor to stick to it. While you're absorbing what the writer has written, allow the unnecessary portions with respect to your goal flow through the sieve of your mind and only catch and annotate the portions which supplement your end goal. Keep and elaborate on these.

      A few days after your reading and annotating, go back through your notes with a keen eye toward expanding on those important things to your goal or interests and set aside (or even discard) all the other less interesting pieces.

      Naturally there are other pieces which may be important for remembering the shape of the things you read or facts which you've highlighted and want to remember or memorize. Save these things also in a separate space from the bigger ideas you're working on creating. They're useful, but of an entirely different nature than the ideas.


      Two broad different types of notes:

      • facts to remember
      • ideas which can have sex with other ideas

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  4. May 2021
    1. “If only I had channels in my head,” Lichtenberg had fantasized, “so as to promote domestic trade between the stockpiles of my thought! But alas, there they lie by the hundreds without being of use to one another.”

      A fascinating quote in the history of the commonplace book on it's way to becoming the Memex.

  5. Apr 2021
  6. Feb 2021
    1. Ecologists talk about the “productivity” of an ecosystem, which is a measure of how effectively the ecosystem converts the energy and nutrients coming into the system into biological growth. A productive ecosystem, like a rainforest, sustains more life per unit of energy than an unproductive ecosystem, like a desert. We need a comparable yardstick for information systems, a measure of a system’s ability to extract value from a given unit of information. Call it, in this example: textual productivity. By creating fluid networks of words, by creating those digital-age commonplaces, we increase the textual productivity of the system.

      Definition: textual productivity

      A measure of how much additional knowledge is generated by a system of ideas and thoughts interacting with each other.

  7. 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.

  8. Apr 2020
    1. Johnson’s book (lively and well sourced –  highly recommended) transcends the cliche of the individual innovator  and shows the ways in which innovation depends on a form of social  capital — the networks of people and ideas that innovators learn from  and build upon.

      It's rarely ever about the "lone genius".