156 Matching Annotations
  1. Last 7 days
    1. Hit me up. Happy to show my zettel-based writing, and how my notes translate into published content, both short- and long-form.

      Thanks u/taurusnoises, your spectacular recent video "Using the Zettelkasten (and Obsidian) to Write an Essay https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OUn2-h6oVc is about as close to the sort of public example of output creation I had been looking for!

      I'm sure that there are other methods and workflows out there which vary by person, method, and modality (analog/digital) and it would be interesting to see what those practices look like as examples for others to use, follow, and potentially improve upon.

      I particularly appreciate that your visual starting perspective of the graph view in Obsidian fairly closely mimics what an analog zettelkasten user might be doing and seeing within that modality.

      I'm still collecting extant examples and doing some related research, but perhaps I'll have some time later in the year to do some interviews with particular people about how they're actively doing this as you suggested.

      On a tangential note, I'm also piqued by some of the specific ideas you mention in your notes in the video as they relate to some work on orality and memory I've been exploring over the past several years. If you do finish that essay, I'd love to read the finished piece.

      Thanks again for this video!

    1. For the sake of simplicity, go to Graph Analysis Settings and disable everything but Co-Citations, Jaccard, Adamic Adar, and Label Propogation. I won't spend my time explaining each because you can find those in the net, but these are essentially algorithms that find connections for you. Co-Citations, for example, uses second order links or links of links, which could generate ideas or help you create indexes. It essentially automates looking through the backlinks and local graphs as it generates possible relations for you.
    2. <small><cite class='h-cite via'> <span class='p-author h-card'>u/taurusnoises</span> in One of the ways I use my zettelkasten (though Obsidian) to write essays : Zettelkasten (<time class='dt-published'>08/10/2022 12:28:58</time>)</cite></small>

    1. I have a notifications on the German equivalent to craigslist on Karteikasten, Karteikartenschrank, Karteischrank, Apothekenschrank and the like in a 50km radius around here. Hope one day something comes up that is reasonable priced and small enough to fit the trunk of our little electric car :-)

      https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/wjvoqq/if_youre_going_to_cast_some_zettels_you_may_as/

      A list of German words and English equivalents for index card related containers and furniture

      Karteikasten - index box<br /> Karteikartenschrank - index card cabinet<br /> Karteischrank - filing cabinet Apothekenschrank - apothecary cabinet

    2. I just frowned at my cardboard boxes.I’m aiming to build something similar out of wood soon. But I also had an idea to build a bookshelf with drawers incorporated, a row of vertical draws on both sides of the shelf and/or one down the middle. Ideally creating book cubbies between the drawers where I could organize related books next to appropriate zettles. Not sure how attached to that idea I am though, seems like something I will like for the moment and find very novel in the future (pun certainly intended).

      reply to GnauticalGnorman

      Don't frown at cardboard. Everyone starts their journey with a single card and a humble box. Filling up a first box is an accomplishment that gives you time to dream about the box you want to have.

      Of potential interest, the cost of index cards to fill these files will be almost the investment in the box itself. Is this similar to the rule of thumb in the art world that the price of the frame should reflect the investment in the artwork?

    1. https://multimediaman.blog/2016/09/30/how-the-index-card-launched-the-information-age/

      A quick overview of the index card and it's role in history from Linnaeus to Dewey to the Mundaneum.

    1. 132 A6HD FCB24 - card index cabinet (2)* 6 x 4” (A6) 159 (6.2”) 434 (17”)

      4x6" Index card cabinet

      Bisley show room in New York (212) 675-3055

    1. Protect it at all costs. As the historian Douglas Brinkley said about Ronald Reagan’s collection of notecards: “If the Reagans’ home in Palisades were burning, this would be one of the things Reagan would immediately drag out of the house. He carried them with him all over like a carpenter brings their tools. These were the tools for his trade.”

      Another example of saving one's commonplace in case of a fire!

      link to: - https://hypothes.is/a/BLL9TvZ9EeuSIrsiWKCB9w - https://hypothes.is/a/zHUghMiaEeuKKvcrc5ux5w

    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. 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.

    4. 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. 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.

  2. Aug 2022
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    1. Alternate index card holding furniture for display?<br /> https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/wffvs4/alternate_index_card_holding_furniture_for_display/

      Separate from boxes for long term card holding storage, does anyone have any suggestions they like for organizing or temporarily displaying cards?

      I've got a couple card tray rack organizers (originally intended for playing cards, but great for zettels) which I generally like.

      Two playing card holders, one with several cards inserted as an example. The holder allows compact display of cards perpendicular to one's table with the ability to see many at one time while working.

      I've also seen Levenger's note card "bleachers" which are similar, but more expensive. - Note Card Bleachers - Portable Note Card Bleachers - Nantucket Bamboo Compact Bleachers

      Levenger index card bleacher for compactly displaying index cards in an array on a desk so that portions are visible but that they don't take up space.

      Does anyone have anything else they like for compact working/displaying aside from laying cards out on tables/desks?

      Do you have other methods for this sort of organization or layout of ideas visually? Corkboards, magnetic whiteboards/walls, other?

    1. https://universitylifecafe.k-state.edu/bookshelf/academicskills/indexcardstudysystem.html

      Natalie Umberger is writing about an "index card study system" in an academic study skills context, but it's an admixture of come ideas from Cornell Notes and using index cards as flashcards.

      The advice to "Review your notes and readings frequently, so the material is 'fresh.' " is a common one (through at least the 1980s to the present), though research on the mere-exposure effect indicates that it's not as valuable as other methods.

      How can we stamp out the misconception that this sort of review is practical?

    1. https://www.preservearticles.com/business/what-is-card-indexing-and-explain-its-advantages-and-disadvantages/1740

      This page seems to be broadly copied from the book Secretarial Practice and Company Law by Arun Kumar and Rachana Sharma (Atlantic Publishers & Distributors (P) Limited, 1998) # and specifically page 529.

      It contains no other history or references that I can immediately see. The book seems to be written for a secretarial audience in India in the 1990's, and while interesting not otherwise pertinent to immediate to my historical questions.

    2. The system of card indexing was propagated by a French Person called Abb’e Jean Rozier (1734-93). The index is prepared by allotting a separate card to each piece of information. The required information are written on the cards. All cards are of uniform size and are arranged in alphabetical, numerical or geographical order.

      https://www.preservearticles.com/business/what-is-card-indexing-and-explain-its-advantages-and-disadvantages/1740

      This source is questionable in it's sourcing and seems to mix several different methods and systems, so we'll need to treat it with a massive grain of salt.

      It does Mention Abb'e Jean Rozier (1734-93) as a historical figure related to propagating a system of card indexing which is a new name to me and thus worth looking into.

      Is Abb'e here a title? (potentially the French translation of the English abbot which is correctly abbé, so this may have had a typo.)

      The dates of life given would indicate that this is not the balloonist/scientist Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Fran%C3%A7ois_Pil%C3%A2tre_de_Rozier

  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.

    1. It wasnot until we had completely re-sorted all our innumerable sheets ofpaper according to subjects, thus bringing together all the facts relatingto each, whatever the trade concerned, or the place or the date—andhad shuffled and reshuffled these sheets according to various tentativehypotheses—that a clear, comprehensive and verifiable theory of theworking and results of Trade Unionism emerged in our minds; tobe embodied, after further researches by way of verification, in ourIndustrial Democracy (1897).

      Beatrice Webb was using her custom note taking system in the lead up to the research that resulted in the publication of Industrial Democracy (1897).

      Is there evidence that she was practicing this note taking/database practice earlier than this?

    2. For a highly elaborated and skilled processof “ making notes ”, besides its obvious use in recording observationswhich would otherwise be forgotten, is actually an instrument of dis¬covery.

      Beatrice Webb sees the primary uses of notes as a memory device and a discovery device.

    3. This process serves a similar purpose in sociology to that of theblow-pipe and the balance in chemistry, or the prism and the electro¬scope in physics. That is to say, it enables the scientific worker to breakup his subject-matter, so as to isolate and examine at his leisure itsvarious component parts, and to recombine them in new and experi¬mental groupings in order to discover which sequences of events have acausal significance

      Beatrice Webb analogized the card index (or note taking using slips of paper) as serving the function of a scientific tool for sociologists the way that chemists use blow pipes and balances or physicists use the prism or electroscope. These tools all help the researcher examine small constituent parts and then situate them in other orderings to provide insight into the subject areas.

    1. Over the course of his intellectual life, from about 1943 until hissudden death in 1980, Barthes built a card index consisting of morethan 12,250 note cards – the full extent of this collection was notknown until access to it was granted to the manuscript researchers ofthe Institut Mémoires de l’édition contemporaine (IMEC) inFrance (Krapp, 2006: 363).3

      Roland Barthes accumulated a card index of more than 12,250 note cards beginning in 1943 which were held after his death in 1980 at the Institut Mémoires de l’édition contemporaine (IMEC) in France.

      Barthes' dates 12 November 1915 – 26 March 1980 age 64

      He started his card index at roughly age 28 and at around the same time which he began producing written work. (Did he have any significant writing work or publications prior to this?)

      His card collection spanned about 37 years and at 12,250 cards means that was producing on average 0.907 cards per day. If we don't include weekends, then he produced 1.27 cards per day on average. Compare this with Ahrens' estimate of 6 cards a day for Niklas Luhmann.


      With this note I'm starting the use of a subject heading (in English) of "card index" as a generic collection of notes which are often kept in one or more boxes. This is to distinguish it from the more modern idea of zettelkasten in the Luhmann framing which also connotes a dense set of links between the cards themselves, though this may not have been the case historically. Card index is also specifically separate from 'index card' which is an individual instance of an item that might be found in a card index. At present, I'm unaware of a specific word in English which defines the broader note taking context or portions thereof relating to index cards in the same way that a zettelkasten implies. This may be the result of the broad use of index cards for so many varying uses in the early 20th century. For these other varying uses I'll try to differentiate them henceforth with the generic 'index card files' which might also be used to describe the containers in which cards might be found.

    1. Famously, Luswig Wittgenstein organized his thoughts this way. Also famously, he never completed his 'big book' - almost all of his books (On Certainty, Philosophical Investigations, Zettel, etc.) were compiled by his students in the years after his death.

      I've not looked directly at Wittgenstein's note collection before, but it could be an interesting historical example.


      Might be worth collecting examples of what has happened to note collections after author's lives. Some obviously have been influential in scholarship, but generally they're subsumed by the broader category of a person's "papers" which are often archived at libraries, museums, and other institutions.

      Examples: - Vincentius Placcius' collection used by his students - Niklas Luhmann's zettelkasten which is being heavily studied by Johannes F.K. Schmidt - Mortimer J. Adler - was his kept? where is it stored?

      Posthumously published note card collections - Ludwig Wittgenstein - Walter Benjamin's Arcades Project - Ronald Reagan's collection at his presidential library, though it is more of an commonplace book collection of quotes which was later published - Roland Barthes' Mourning Diary - Vladimir Nabokov's The Original of Laura - others...


      Just as note collections serve an autobiographical function, perhaps they may also serve as an intellectual autobiographical function? Wittgenstein never managed to complete his 'big book', but in some sense, doesn't his collection of note cards serve this function for those willing to explore it all?


      I'd previously suggested that Scott P. Scheper publish not only his book on note taking, but to actually publish his note cards as a stand-alone zettelkasten example to go with them. What if this sort of publishing practice were more commonplace? The modern day equivalent is more likely a person's blog or their wiki. Not enough people are publicly publishing their notes to see what this practice might look like for future generations.

    1. https://www.zylstra.org/blog/2022/06/spring-83/

      I've been thinking about this sort of thing off and on myself.

      I too almost immediately thought of Fraidyc.at and its nudge at shifting the importance of content based on time and recency. I'd love to have a social reader with additional affordances for both this time shifting and Ton's idea of reading based on social distance.

      I'm struck by the seemingly related idea of @peterhagen's LindyLearn platform and annotations: https://annotations.lindylearn.io/new/ which focuses on taking some of the longer term interesting ideas as the basis for browsing and chewing on. Though even here, one needs some of the odd, the cutting edge, and the avant garde in their balanced internet diet. Would Spring '83 provide some of this?

      I'm also struck by some similarities this has with the idea of Derek Siver's /now page movement. I see some updating regularly while others have let it slip by the wayside. Still the "board" of users exists, though one must click through a sea of mostly smiling and welcoming faces to get to it the individual pieces of content. (The smiling faces are more inviting and personal than the cacophony of yelling and chaos I see in models for Spring '83.) This reminds me of Stanley Meyers' frequent assertion that he attempted to design a certain "sense of quiet" into the early television show Dragnet to balance the seeming loudness of the everyday as well as the noise of other contemporaneous television programming.

      The form reminds me a bit of the signature pages of one's high school year book. But here, instead of the goal being timeless scribbles, one has the opportunity to change the message over time. Does the potential commercialization of the form (you know it will happen in a VC world crazed with surveillance capitalism) follow the same trajectory of the old college paper facebook? Next up, Yearbook.com!

      Beyond the thing as a standard, I wondered what the actual form of Spring '83 adds to a broader conversation? What does it add to the diversity of voices that we don't already see in other spaces. How might it be abused? Would people come back to it regularly? What might be its emergent properties?

      It definitely seems quirky and fun in and old school web sort of way, but it also stresses me out looking at the zany busyness of some of the examples of magazine stands. The general form reminds me of the bargain bins at book stores which have the promise of finding valuable hidden gems and at an excellent price, but often the ideas and quality of what I find usually isn't worth the discounted price and the return on investment is rarely worth the effort. How might this get beyond these forms?

      It also brings up the idea of what other online forms we may have had with this same sort of raw experimentation? How might the internet have looked if there had been a bigger rise of the wiki before that of the blog? What would the world be like if Webmention had existed before social media rose to prominence? Did we somehow miss some interesting digital animals because the web rose so quickly to prominence without more early experimentation before its "Cambrian explosion"?

      I've been thinking about distilled note taking forms recently and what a network of atomic ideas on index cards look like and what emerges from them. What if the standard were digital index cards that linked and cross linked to each other, particularly in a world without adherence to time based orders and streams? What does a new story look like if I can pull out a card either at random or based on a single topic and only see it or perhaps some short linked chain of ideas (mine or others) which come along with it? Does the choice of a random "Markov monkey" change my thinking or perspective? What comes out of this jar of Pandora? Is it just a new form of cadavre exquis?

      This standard has been out for a bit and presumably folks are experimenting with it. What do the early results look like? How are they using it? Do they like it? Does it need more scale? What do small changes make to the overall form?


      For more on these related ideas, see: https://hypothes.is/search?q=tag%3A%22spring+%2783%22

    1. Beyond the cards mentioned above, you should also capture any hard-to-classify thoughts, questions, and areas for further inquiry on separate cards. Regularly go through these to make sure that you are covering everything and that you don’t forget something.I consider these insurance cards because they won’t get lost in some notebook or scrap of paper, or email to oneself.

      Julius Reizen in reviewing over Umberto Eco's index card system in How to Write a Thesis, defines his own "insurance card" as one which contains "hard-to-classify thoughts, questions, and areas for further inquiry". These he would keep together so that they don't otherwise get lost in the variety of other locations one might keep them

      These might be akin to Ahrens' "fleeting notes" but are ones which may not easily or even immediately be converted in to "permanent notes" for one's zettelkasten. However, given their mission critical importance, they may be some of the most important cards in one's repository.

      link this to - idea of centralizing one's note taking practice to a single location

      Is this idea in Eco's book and Reizen is the one that gives it a name since some of the other categories have names? (examples: bibliographic index cards, reading index cards (aka literature notes), cards for themes, author index cards, quote index cards, idea index cards, connection cards). Were these "officially" named and categorized by Eco?

      May be worthwhile to create a grid of these naming systems and uses amongst some of the broader note taking methods. Where are they similar, where do they differ?


      Multi-search tools that have full access to multiple trusted data stores (ostensibly personal ones across notebooks, hard drives, social media services, etc.) could potentially solve the problem of needing to remember where you noted something.

      Currently, in the social media space especially, this is not a realized service.

  4. Jun 2022
    1. u/sscheper in writing your book, have you thought about the following alternative publishing idea which I'm transcribing from a random though I put on a card this morning?

      I find myself thinking about people publishing books in index card/zettelkasten formats. Perhaps Scott Scheper could do this with his antinet book presented in a traditional linear format, but done in index cards with his numbers, links, etc. as well as his actual cards for his index at the end so that readers could also see the power of the system by holding it in their hands and playing with it?

      It could be done roughly like Edward Powys Mathers' Cain's Jawbone or Henry Korn's Pontoon Manifesto? Perhaps numbered consecutively to make it easier to bring back into that format, but also done with your zk numbering so that people could order it and use it that way too? This way you get the book as well as a meta artifact of what the book is about as an example of how to do such a thing for yourself. Maybe even make a contest for a better ordering for the book than the one you published it in ?

      Link to: - https://hyp.is/6IBzkPfeEeyo9Suq-ZmCKg/www.scientificamerican.com/article/reading-paper-screens/

    1. surveys indicate that screens and e-readers interfere with two other important aspects of navigating texts: serendipity and a sense of control.

      Based on surveys, readers indicate that two important parts of textual navigation are sense of control and serendipity.

      http://books.google.com/books/about/Electronic_journal_literature.html?id=YSFlAAAAMAAJ


      How does the control over a book frame how we read? What does "power over" a book look like compared to "power with"?

      What are the tools for thought affordances that paper books provide over digital books and vice versa?


      I find myself thinking about people publishing books in index card/zettelkasten formats. Perhaps Scott Scheper could do this with his antinet book presented in a linear format, but done in index cards with his numbers, links, etc. as well as his actual cards for his index so that readers could also see the power of the system by holding it in their hands and playing with it.

    1. The slipbox and index cards on which Vladimir Nabokov wrote his novel Lolita.

      Vladimir Nabokov famously wrote most of his works including Lolita using index cards in a slip box. He ultimately died in 1977 leaving an unfinished manuscript in note card form for the novel The Original of Laura. Penguin later published the incomplete novel with in 2012 with the subtitle A Novel in Fragments. Unlike most manuscripts written or typewritten on larger paper, this one came in the form of 138 index cards. Penguin's published version recreated these cards in full-color reproductions including the smudges, scribbles, scrawlings, strikeouts, and annotations in English, French, and Russian. Perforated, one could tear the cards out of the book and reorganize in any way they saw fit or even potentially add their own cards to finish the novel that Nabokov couldn't.

      Index card on which Nabokov collated notes on ages, heights, and measurements for school aged girls as research for his title character Lolita.

      More details at: https://www.openculture.com/2014/02/the-notecards-on-which-vladimir-nabokov-wrote-lolita.html

    1. I also like the simplicity of a box. There’s a purpose here, and it has a lot to dowith efficiency. A writer with a good storage and retrieval system can write faster.He isn’t spending a lot of time looking things up, scouring his papers, and patrollingother rooms at home wondering where he left that perfect quote. It’s in the box.

      A card index can be a massive boon to a writer as a well-indexed one, in particular, will save massive amounts of time which might otherwise be spent searching for quotes or ideas that they know they know, but can't easily recreate.

    2. There are separate boxes for everything I’ve ever done. If you want a glimpseinto how I think and work, you could do worse than to start with my boxes.
  5. 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.

    1. 1980s: "I always typed a few hours a day on a heavy and noisy IBM typewriter. Before converting to the Apple faith, I wrote down every interesting idea or possibly useful datum on 5 × 8 cards that I kept in card-boxes. But I used them only sparingly to write papers of books, for they were just random collections. Once an unknown American scholar phoned me to announce that he was about to commit suicide because he had failed to craft a general theory of ideas out of thousands of cards that he had filled in the course of a decade. He had been a casualty of dataism, the idea that knowledge of anything is just a collection of bits of knowledge." (pp. 273–274)

      Anecdotal evidence of contemplation of suicide based on over-collection of notes without creating a clear thesis or use for them.

      I'm curious who the colleague was and what or how their note taking system wasn't working for them. Most likely the inability to link ideas to each other, lack of clear examples of others doing the practice to help guide them?

    2. Mario Bunge (1919–2020) was an Argentine-Canadian philosopher and physicist. Here are some excerpts from his book Between Two Worlds: Memoirs of a Philosopher-Scientist (Springer-Verlag, 2016) about his use of card-boxes

      Mario Bunge had a card index note taking practice.

    1. You may prefer notebooks to cards for note taking-very well:use what you like, but invariably; it will save you time andannoyance. If you use cards , use small ones (3" x 5") so that youuse a separate card for each fact, title, or memorandum toyourself. The cards are then easily shuffled for grouping. If youuse a notebook, leave a margin for the key word, letter, or num-ber which you will insert later as an index to the contents.
    1. together with his friend Wendell Hertig Taylor, kept a running tally of every mystery book that came along. Their brief descriptions, scribbled on three-by-five-inch index cards, eventually coalesced into “A Catalogue of Crime,” one of the foremost reference works in the mystery/suspense genre.

      Jacques Barzun had a card index for cataloging mystery/suspense books which he maintained on 3x5" cards with his friend Wendell Hertig Taylor.

      Did he keep a card index for his ideas as well?

  6. May 2022
    1. Thus, the sensitive seismographer of avant-garde develop-ments, Walter Benjamin, logically conceived of this scenario in 1928, of communicationwith card indices rather than books: “And even today, as the current scientific methodteaches us, the book is an archaic intermediate between two different card indexsystems. For everything substantial is found in the slip box of the researcher who wroteit and the scholar who studies in it, assimilated into its own card index.” 47
      1. Walter Benjamin, Einbahnstra ß e, in Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 4 (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1928/1981), 98 – 140, at 103.

      Does Walter Benjamin prefigure the idea of card indexes conversing with themselves in a communicative method similar to that of Vannevar Bush's Memex?

      This definitely sounds like the sort of digital garden inter-communication afforded by the Anagora as suggested by @Flancian.

    2. Despite the librarian card-theoreticalrecommendation of only using cardboard or strong paper as a bearer of information,17Luhmann relies on plain typewriter paper for spatial economy, which can quickly lead,however, to the deterioration of the medium with frequent browsing.

      For Luhmann's time, the librarian recommendation for substrate was either cardboard or strong paper as the carrier for information, but he eschewed this recommendation in favor of plain typewriter paper because it took up less space. This came at the cost of deterioration of many of his cards through regular use however.

    3. According to this, the arrangement consists of “wooden boxes with drawers that pullout in the front, and cards in octavo format ” (= DIN A5).

      Luhmann's zettelkasten collection of cards was in octavo format, aka DIN A5 (148mm x 210mm or 5.8" x 8.3").

    4. commenting in an interview: “By the way, many people havecome here to see that.”13 The writing tool became an object of desire, especially foryoung academics seeking to add a carefully planned card index to their carefully plannedcareers: “After all, Fred wants to be a professor.” 1

      Luhmann indicates that aspiring academics came to visit to see his card collection in potentially planning their own.

      1. Ralf Klassen, “Bezaubernde Jeannie oder Liebe ist nur ein Zeitvertreib,” in Wir Fernsehkinder. Eine Generation ohne Programm, ed. Walter Wüllenweber (Berlin: Rowohlt Berlin Verlag, 1994), 81 – 97, at 84.
    5. Card indexes can do anything!—Das System, Zeitschrift für Organisation , Book 1, January 1928

      Dig up this reference. English version?

    1. Between 1930 to 1980,Labrousse, Daumard, and Kuznets carried out their research almostexclusively by hand, on file cards.

      Piketty indicates that Ernest Labrousse, Adeline Daumard, and Simon Kuznets carried out their economic and historical research almost exclusively by hand using file cards.

      Are their notes still extant? What did their systems look like? From whom did they learn them?

    1. The first early modern card index was designed by Thomas Harrison (ca 1640s). Harrison's manuscript on The Ark of Studies[5] (Arca studiorum) was edited and improved by Vincent Placcius in his well-known handbook on excerpting methods (De arte excerpendi, 1689).
    1. 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. The biggest mistake—and one I’ve made myself—is linking with categories. In other words, it’s adding links like we would with tags. When we link this way we’re more focused on grouping rather than connecting. As a result, we have notes that contain many connections with little to no relevance. Additionally, we add clutter to our links which makes it difficult to find useful links when adding links. That being said, there are times when we might want to group some things. In these cases, use tags or folders.

      Most people born since the advent of the filing cabinet and the computer have spent a lifetime using a hierarchical folder-based mental model for their knowledge. For greater value and efficiency one needs to get away from this model and move toward linking individual ideas together in ways that they can more easily be re-used.

      To accomplish this many people use an index-based method that uses topical or subject headings which can be useful. However after even a few years of utilizing a generic tag (science for example) it may become overwhelmed and generally useless in a broad search. Even switching to narrower sub-headings (physics, biology, chemistry) may show the same effect. As a result one will increasingly need to spend time and effort to maintain and work at this sort of taxonomical system.

      The better option is to directly link related ideas to each other. Each atomic idea will have a much more limited set of links to other ideas which will create a much more valuable set of interlinks for later use. Limiting your links at this level will be incredibly more useful over time.

      One of the biggest benefits of the physical system used by Niklas Luhmann was that each card was required to be placed next to at least one card in a branching tree of knowledge (or a whole new branch had to be created.) Though he often noted links to other atomic ideas there was at least a minimum link of one on every idea in the system.

      For those who have difficulty deciding where to place a new idea within their system, it can certainly be helpful to add a few broad keywords of the type one might put into an index. This may help you in linking your individual ideas as you can do a search of one or more of your keywords to narrow down the existing ones within your collection. This may help you link your new idea to one or more of those already in your system. This method may be even more useful and helpful for those who are starting out and have fewer than 500-1000 notes in their system and have even less to link their new atomic ideas to.

      For those who have graphical systems, it may be helpful to look for one or two individual "tags" in a graph structure to visually see the number of first degree notes that link to them as a means of creating links between atomic ideas.

      To have a better idea of a hierarchy of value within these ideas, it may help to have some names and delineate this hierarchy of potential links. Perhaps we might borrow some well ideas from library and information science to guide us? There's a system in library science that uses a hierarchical set up using the phrases: "broader terms", "narrower terms", "related terms", and "used for" (think alias or also known as) for cataloging books and related materials.

      We might try using tags or index-like links in each of these levels to become more specific, but let's append "connected atomic ideas" to the bottom of the list.

      Here's an example:

      • broader terms (BT): [[physics]]
      • narrower terms (NT): [[mechanics]], [[dynamics]]
      • related terms (RT): [[acceleration]], [[velocity]]
      • used for (UF) or aliases:
      • connected atomic ideas: [[force = mass * acceleration]], [[$$v^2=v_0^2​+2aΔx$$]]

      Chances are that within a particular text, one's notes may connect and interrelate to each other quite easily, but it's important to also link those ideas to other ideas that are already in your pre-existing body of knowledge.


      See also: Thesaurus for Graphic Materials I: Subject Terms (TGM I) https://www.loc.gov/rr/print/tgm1/ic.html

  7. Apr 2022
    1. INTERVIEWER: Could you say something of your work habits?Do you write to a preplanned chart? Do you jump from onesection to another, or do you move from the beginning throughto the end?NABOKOV: The pattern of the thing precedes the thing. I fill inthe gaps of the crossword at any spot I happen to choose. Thesebits I write on index cards until the novel is done. My schedule

      is flexible, but I am rather particular about my instruments: lined Bristol cards and well sharpened, not too hard, pencils capped with erasers.

      Nabokov on his system of writing.

    2. Nabokov arises early in the morning and works. He does hiswriting on filing cards, which are gradually copied, expanded, andrearranged until they become his novels.
    3. Mr. Nabokov’s writing method is to compose his stories and novels on index cards,shuffling them as the work progresses since he does not write in consecutive order.Every card is rewritten many times. When the work is completed,the cards in final order, Nabokov dictates from them to his wifewho types it up in triplicate.

      Vladimir Nabokov's general writing method consisted of composing his material on index cards so that he could shuffle them as he worked as he didn't write in consecutive order. He rewrote and edited cards many times and when the work was completed with the cards in their final order, Nabokov dictated them to his wife Vera who would type them up in triplicate.

    1. The day after his mother's death in October 1977, the influential philosopher Roland Barthes began a diary of mourning. Taking notes on index cards as was his habit, he reflected on a new solitude, on the ebb and flow of sadness, and on modern society's dismissal of grief. These 330 cards, published here for the first time, prove a skeleton key to the themes he tackled throughout his work.

      Published on October 12, 2010, Mourning Diary is a collection published for the first time from Roland Barthes' 330 index cards focusing on his mourning following the death of his mother in 1977.

      Was it truly created as a "diary" from the start? Or was it just a portion of his regular note taking collection excerpted and called a diary after-the-fact? There is nothing resembling a "traditional" diary in many portions of the collection, but rather a collection of notes relating to the passing of his mother. Was the moniker "diary" added as a promotional or sales tool?

    1. To read through my life, even as an incomplete picture, fits the permanence I’m envisioning for the site.

      If one thinks of a personal website as a performance, what is really being performed by the author?

      Links and cross links, well done, within a website can provide a garden of forking paths by which a particular reader might explore a blog despite the fact that there is often a chronological time order imposed upon it.

      Link this to the idea of using a zettelkasten as a biography of a writer, but one with thousands of crisscrossing links.

    2. https://intothebook.net/does-chronology-have-meaning-in-a-virtual-space/

      Example of a blog in the wild describing itself as an autobiography.

      This is somewhat related to the idea of a card index as autobiography, though in the piece they talk about time ordered chronology of posts on a blog.

    1. French theorist, philosopher, and writer Roland Barthes (1915 – 1980) kept a fichier boîte or card index file beginning in 1943 until his death. Curator Nathalie Léger has indicated that there are 12,250 slips in Roland Barthes' bequest at the Institut Mémoires de l’édition contemporaine (IMEC).[16][17] Louis-Jean Calvet explains that in writing Michelet, Barthes used his notes on index cards to try out various combinations of cards to both organize them as well as "to find correspondences between them."[18][19] In addition to using his card index for producing his published works, Barthes also used his note taking system for teaching as well. His final course on the topic of the Neutral, which he taught as a seminar at Collège de France, was contained in four bundles consisting of 800 cards which contained everything from notes, summaries, figures, and bibliographic entries.[18] In his autobiographical Roland Barthes par (by) Roland Barthes, Barthes reproduces three of his index cards in facsimile.[20] Published posthumously in 2010, Barthes' Mourning Diary was created from a collection of 330 of his index cards focusing on his mourning following the death of his mother. The book jacket of the book prominently features one of his index cards from the collection.[21] In a well known photo of Barthes in his office taken by Henri Cartier-Bresson in 1963, the author is pictured with his card indexes on the shelf behind him.[22][16]

      French theorist, philosopher, and writer [[Roland Barthes]] (1915 – 1980) kept a ''fichier boîte'' or card index file beginning in 1943 until his death. Curator Nathalie Léger has indicated that there are 12,250 slips in Roland Barthes' bequest at the [[Institute for Contemporary Publishing Archives|Institut Mémoires de l’édition contemporaine (IMEC)]].<ref name="Hollier">{{cite journal |last1=Hollier |first1=Denis |title=Notes (On the Index Card). |journal=October |date=2005 |volume=112 |issue=Spring |pages=35–44 |url=https://www.jstor.org/stable/3397642 |access-date=23 April 2022}}</ref><ref>{{cite book |last1=Krapp |first1=Peter |editor1-last=Chun |editor1-first=W. H. K. |editor2-last=Keenan |editor2-first=T |title=New Media, Old Theory: A History and Theory Reader |date=2006 |publisher=Routledge |location=New York |pages=359-373 |chapter=Hypertext Avant La Lettre}}</ref> [[Louis-Jean Calvet]] explains that in writing ''Michelet'', Barthes used his notes on index cards to try out various combinations of cards to both organize them as well as "to find correspondences between them."<ref name="Rowan">{{cite journal |last1=Wilken |first1=Rowan |title=The card index as creativity machine |journal=Culture Machine |date=2010 |volume=11 |pages=7–30 |url=https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/The-card-index-as-creativity-machine-Wilken/ffeae0931cc269da047d0844a6bef7e1c7424b46 |access-date=23 April 2022}}</ref><ref>{{cite book |last1=Calvet |first1=Louis-Jean |title=Roland Barthes: A Biography |date=1994 |publisher=Indiana University Press |location=Bloomington, IN}}</ref> In addition to using his card index for producing his published works, Barthes also used his note taking system for teaching as well. His final course on the topic of the Neutral, which he taught as a seminar at Collège de France, was contained in four bundles consisting of 800 cards which contained everything from notes, summaries, figures, and bibliographic entries.<ref name="Rowan"></ref> In his autobiographical ''Roland Barthes par (by) Roland Barthes'', Barthes reproduces three of his index cards in facsimile.<ref>{{cite book |last1=Barthes |first1=Roland |title=Roland Barthes |date=1977 |publisher=Macmillan |isbn=978-1-349-03520-5 |page=75}}</ref> Published posthumously in 2010, Barthes' ''Mourning Diary'' was created from a collection of 330 of his index cards focusing on his mourning following the death of his mother. The book jacket of the book prominently features one of his index cards from the collection.<ref>{{cite book |last1=Barthes |first1=Roland |title=Mourning Diary |date=2010 |publisher=Macmillan |url=https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780374533113/mourningdiary}}</ref> In a well known photo of Barthes in his office taken by [[Henri Cartier-Bresson]] in 1963, the author is pictured with his card indexes on the shelf behind him.<ref>{{cite book |last1=Yacavone |first1=Kathrin |title=Interdisciplinary Barthes |date=2020 |publisher=Oxford University Press |isbn=978-0-19-726667-0 |pages=97–117 |url=https://doi.org/10.5871/bacad/9780197266670.003.0007 |chapter=Picturing Barthes: The Photographic Construction of Authorship}}</ref><ref name="Hollier"></ref>

    1. Embarrassed and almost guilty because sometimes I feel that my mourning is merely a susceptibility to emotion. But all my life haven’t I been just that: moved?

    2. Struck by the abstract nature of absence; yet it’s so painful, lacerating. Which allows me to understand abstraction somewhat better: it is absence and pain, the pain of absence—perhaps therefore love?

    3. —How strange: her voice, which I knew so well, and which is said to be the very texture of memory (“the dear inflection…”), I no longer hear. Like a localized deafness…

    4. —”Never again, never again!” —And yet there’s a contradiction: “never again” isn’t eternal, since you yourself will die one day. “Never again” is the expression of an immortal. (Images courtesy Michel Salzedo.)

    5. https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/barthess-hand

      Interesting use of a card index as a diary.

      Cross reference: Review of Mourning Diaries: Wallowing in Grief Over Maman by Dwight Garner, New York Times, Oct. 14, 2010 https://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/15/books/15book.html

    6. I was fortunate enough to see—and now share with you—a handful of these diaries from 1977 in their original, hand-written form. (A collection of more than three hundred entries, entitled “Mourning Diary,” will be published by Hill and Wang next month.)

      Hill and Wang published Mourning Diary by Roland Barthes on October 12, 2010. It is a collection of 330 entries which he wrote following the death of his mother Henriette in 1977.

      Kristina Budelis indicates that she saw them in person and reproduced four of them as index card-like notes in The New Yorker (September 2010).

    1. In 1934, Marcel Duchamp announced the publication of his Green Box (edition of 320 copies) in a subscription bulletin — an enormous undertaking since each box contains 94 individual items mostly supposed “facsimiles” (Duchamp’s word) of notes first written between 1911 and 1915, each printed and torn upon templates to match the borders of the scribbled originals for a total of 30,080 scraps and pages.

      Marcel Duchamp announced his project the Green Box in 1934 as an edition of 320 copies of a box of 94 items. Most of the items were supposed "facsimiles" as described by Duchamp, of notes he wrote from 1911 to 1915.

      How is or isn't this like a zettelkasten or card index, admittedly a small collection?

    1. Hollier, Denis. “Notes (On the Index Card).” October 112, no. Spring (2005): 35–44. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3397642

      Read: 2022-04-20 15:36

      Interesting material on Barthes' use of note cards, though not in depth. Some interesting discussion on the idea of autobiography from a philosophical perspective.

      The first five sections were interesting to me, the last two a bit denser and not as clear or interesting without additional context.

    2. Roland Barthes par Roland Barthes. This time, the index cards werealready there. One of the pages of illustrations of the volume reproduces three ofthem in facsimile. The text doesn’t comment on them, doesn’t even allude tothem. There is just a caption: “Reversal: of scholarly origin, the index card endsup following the twists and turns of the drive.”

      In his book Roland Barthes par (by) Roland Barthes, Barthes reproduces three of his index cards in facsimile. The text doesn't comment or even allude to them, they're presented only with the captions "Reversal: of scholarly origin, the note follows the various twists and turns of movement." "...outside...", and "...or at a desk".

      In this setting, the card index proves itself the most direct co-author as it physically appears in Barthes' autobiography!

    3. A filing system is indefinitely expandable, rhizomatic (at any point of timeor space, one can always insert a new card); in contradistinction with the sequen-tial irreversibility of the pages of the notebook and of the book, its interiormobility allows for permanent reordering (for, even if there is no narrative conclu-sion of a diary, there is a last page of the notebook on which it is written: its pagesare numbered, like days on a calendar).

      Most writing systems and forms force a beginning and an end, they force a particular structure that is both finite and limiting. The card index (zettelkasten) may have a beginning—there's always a first note or card, but it never has to have an end unless one's ownership is so absolute it ends with the life of its author. There are an ever-increasing number of ways to order a card index, though some try to get around this to create some artificial stability by numbering or specifically ordering their cards. New ideas can be accepted into the index at a multitude of places and are always internally mobile and re-orderable.

      link to Luhmann's works on describing this sort of rhizomatic behavior of his zettelkasten


      Within a network model framing for a zettelkasten, one might define thinking as traversing a graph of idea nodes in a particular order. Alternately it might also include randomly juxtaposing cards and creating links between ones which have similarities. Which of these modes of thinking has a higher order? Which creates more value? Which requires more work?

    4. Not unlike Duchamp’s door that is both open and closed at thesame time, the card file resists the syntagmatic closure of the sentence by sustain-ing the openness of the paradigm.

      Resisting syntagmatic closure

      Ideas placed into a card file or zettelkasten resist syntagmatic closure. Even well-formed structures in a card file can accept, expand, and integrate new ideas.

      Is a zettelkasten ever done?

    5. It is also the best support for the opera aperta, whose desire was pervasive in the1950s and 1960s

      Denis Hollier suggests that the index card file is "the best support for the opera aperta, whose desire was pervasive in the 1950s and 1960s."

    6. But there were for Leiris earlierassociations of Mallarmé’s work with more literal containers. In his preface to his1925 first edition of Igitur, a text to which Leiris refers on a variety of occasions,Dr. Bonniot, the son-in-law of the poet, had written: “Mallarmé, as we know, usedto jot down his first ideas, the first outlines of his work on eighths of half-sheets ofschool notebook size—notes he would keep in big wooden boxes of China tea.” 15

      Bonniot quoted in Michel Leiris, La Règle du jeu (Paris: Gallimard, 2003), p. 1658.

      Stéphane Mallarmé's son in law Dr. Bonniot indicates that "Mallarmé, as we know, used to jot down his first ideas, the first outlines of his work on eighths of half-sheets of school notebook size—notes he would keep in big wooden boxes of China tea.”

      Given that Mallarmé lived from 1842 to 1898, his life predated the general rise and mass manufacture of the index card, but like many of his generation and several before, he relied on self-made note tools like standard sized sheets of paper cut in eighths which he kept in somewhat standard sized boxes.

    7. The 1931–33 Dakar-Djibouti anthropologicalexpedition had been for him an intensive training ground for the systematic tech-nique of note-card filing. While in the process of becoming a professionalethnographer and of setting the stage for the dual exploration of autobiographyand ethnography that will inform his further work for more than fifty years, thisalmost-manual (artisanal) aspect of his professional training will soon lead him toopen a sort of autobiographical account, a kind of safe into which he will depositentries cut out (i.e., copied out) from his diary, before drawing from this frequentlyreshuffled and augmented portfolio of memories, anecdotes, ideas, and feelings,small and big, to feed his continuous self-portrait. 13 The result is a secondary, indi-rect autobiography, originating not from the subject’s innermost self, but from thestack of index cards (the autobiographical shards) in the little box on the author’sdesk. A self built on stilts, on “pilotis,” relying not on direct, live memories (as inProust’s involuntary memory), but on archival documentation, on paper work, aself that relates to himself indirectly, by means of quotation, of self-compilation.

      I like the idea here that a collection of index card notes combined and recombined might create an autobiography.

      Link to Henry Korn's cards.

    8. according to Nathalie Léger, one of thecurators of the Barthes exhibit at the Centre Pompidou in 2002, there are 12,250 slipsin Roland Barthes’s bequest at Institut Mémoires de l’édition contemporaine (IMEC).2

      Nathalie Léger, “Immensément et en détail,” in R/B Roland Barthes, exh. cat. (Paris: Seuil, Centre Pompidou, IMEC, 2002), p. 91.

      Nathalie Léger has indicated that there are 12,250 slips in Roland Barthes' bequest at the Institut Mémoires de l’édition contemporaine (IMEC).

    9. There are 399 cardsfiled in Leiris’s box for La Règle du jeu1

      I published them as an appendix in the Pléiade edition of La Règle du jeu (Paris: Gallimard, 2003), pp. 1155–1265

      Michael Leiris wrote La Règle du jeu on 399 cards which he kept in a box.

    1. Wilken, Rowan. “The Card Index as Creativity Machine.” Culture Machine 11 (2010): 7–30.

      file: https://culturemachine.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/373-604-1-PB.pdf

    2. the index card. This is despite the fact that itfunctions as such in a variety of different ways in relation to textualorganisation, composition and authorship. In the space that remains,I wish to tease out this idea of the index card as a creative agent inknowledge production by returning to reconsider the issue of theindex card as an archival or ‘mnemotechnical’ device.

      The simple card index can serve a number of functions including as an archive, a mnemonic device, a teacher, an organizational tool, a composition device, a creativity engine, and an authorship tool.

    3. Furthermore,combinatorial logic dictates that the card index is also the wellspringof creativity insofar as it permits expansive possibilities for futureintellectual endeavours (see Hollier, 2005: 40; cf. Krapp, 2006:367).
    4. QuotingFriedrich Kittler, Thorn explains that the aim of such an all-encompassing approach to media is to focus on the ‘networks oftechnologies and institutions that allow a given culture to select,store, and process relevant data’ (cited in Thorn, 2008: 7).

      Has media studies looked at primary orality and the ideas of space repetition, art, dance, and mnemonics as base layers of media by which cultures created networks of knowledge and culture that they might use to select, store, process, copy, and pass along their knowledge?

    5. The Card Index as Creativity Machine

      Rowan Wilken admits that Cornelia Vismann's use of files for transmission, storage, cancellation, manipulation, and destruction are remarkable, but that the key feature of the card index as a file type is its use for creative production.

    6. as in much of his published work, Barthes doesn’t just performcritique; he works to unsettle the performance of critique throughperformance, especially via his creative engagement with thefragmental text – an engagement, as I have argued above, which isvery much shaped by his own card index use.
    7. the index card serves as bothexample and facilitator of the concept of the lexia.
    8. it ispossible to view Barthes’ concept of the lexia as an almost literaltranslation of his own use of index cards for recording various ‘unitsof reading’ and other ideas and associations.
    9. All of the major books that were to follow – Sade /Fourier / Loyola (1997), The Pleasure of the Text (1975), RolandBarthes by Roland Barthes (1977), A Lover’s Discourse (1990), andCamera Lucida (1993) – are texts that are ‘plural’ and ‘broken’, andwhich are ‘constructed from non-totalizable fragments and fromexuberantly proliferating “details”’ (Bensmaïa, 1987: xxvii-xxxviii).In all of the above cases the fragment becomes the key unit ofcomposition, with each text structured around the arrangement ofmultiple (but non-totalisable) textual fragments.

      Does the fact that Barthes uses a card index in his composition and organization influence the overall theme of his final works which could be described as "non-totalizable fragments"?

    10. theprimary aim here is to explore how Barthes uses the notion of the‘non-totalisable’ fragment in his own work, and how this ties in witha discussion of his use of index cards.

      a good summary of the overall paper?

    11. According to Krapp, admissions like this, along with Barthes’inclusion of facsimiles of his cards in Roland Barthes by RolandBarthes, are all part of Barthes ‘outing’ his card catalogue as ‘co-author of his texts’ (Krapp, 2006: 363). The precise wording of thisformulation – designating the card index as ‘co-author’ – and theagency it ascribes to these index cards are significant in that theysuggest a usage that extends beyond mere memory aid to formsomething that is instrumental to the very organisation of Barthes’ideas and the published representations of these ideas.
    12. As Calvet explains, this consisted of Barthes ‘writing out his cardsevery day, making notes on every possible subject, then classifyingand combining them in different ways until he found a structure or aset of themes’ (1994: 113) which he could proceed to work with.
    13. What is evident from this discussion of Michelet and the earlierinterview excerpt is the way that Barthes used index cards both as anorganisational and as a problem-solving tool

      Barthes used his card index as an organizational tool as well as a problem-solving tool.

    14. As Calvetexplains, in thinking through the organisation of Michelet, Barthes‘tried out different combinations of cards, as in playing a game ofpatience, in order to work out a way of organising them and to findcorrespondences between them’ (113).

      Louis-Jean Calvet explains that in writing Michelet, Barthes used his notes on index cards to try out various combinations of cards to both organize them as well as "to find correspondences between them."

    15. Louis-Jean Calvet details the pivotal role played by indexcards in the organisation of Barthes’ Michelet.
    16. published under the title‘An Almost Obsessive Relation to Writing Instruments’, which firstappeared in Le Monde in 1973

      There is apparently an English translation by Linda Coverdale of this interview was published posthumously by University of California Press in The Grain of The Voice

      There's also another edition The Grain of the Voice: Interviews 1962-1980 by Roland Barthes; Translated by Linda Coverdale; Northwestern University Press, 384 Pages, 5.50 x 8.50 in, 8 b-w Paperback, ISBN: 9780810126404; Published: December 2009, https://nupress.northwestern.edu/9780810126404/the-grain-of-the-voice/

      Is there anything else worthwhile in this interview about note taking?

    17. published under the title‘An Almost Obsessive Relation to Writing Instruments’, which firstappeared in Le Monde in 1973, Barthes describes the method thatguides his use of index cards:I’m content to read the text in question, in a ratherfetishistic way: writing down certain passages,moments, even words which have the power tomove me. As I go along, I use my cards to writedown quotations, or ideas which come to me, asthey do so, curiously, already in the rhythm of asentence, so that from that moment on, things arealready taking on an existence as writing. (1991:181)

      In an interview with Le Monde in 1973, Barthes indicated that while his note taking practice was somewhat akin to that of a commonplace book where one might collect interesting passages, or quotations, he was also specifically writing down ideas which came to him, but doing so in "in the rhythm of a sentence, so that from that moment on, things are already taking on an existence as writing." This indicates that he's already preparing for future publications in which he might use those very ideas and putting them into a more finished form than most might think of when considering shorter fleeting notes used simply as a reminder. By having the work already done, he can easily put his own ideas directly into longer works.


      Was there any evidence that his notes were crosslinked or indexed in a way so that he could more rapidly rearrange his ideas and pre-written thoughts to more easily copy them into longer articles or books?

    18. By the early 1970s, Barthes’ long-standing use of index cards wasrevealed through reproduction of sample cards in Roland Barthes byRoland Barthes (see Barthes, 1977b: 75). These reproductions,Hollier (2005: 43) argues, have little to do with their content andare included primarily for reality-effect value, as evidence of anexpanding taste for historical documents

      While the three index cards of Barthes that were reproduced in the 1977 edition of Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes may have been "primarily for reality-effect value as evidence of an expanding taste for historical documents" as argued by Hollier, it does indicate the value of the collection to Barthes himself as part of an autobiographical work.

      I've noticed that one of the cards is very visibly about homosexuality in a time where public discussion of the term was still largely taboo. It would be interesting to have a full translation of the three cards to verify Hollier's claim, as at least this one does indicate the public consumption of the beginning of changing attitudes on previously taboo subject matter, even for a primarily English speaking audience which may not have been able to read or understand them, but would have at least been able to guess the topic.

      At least some small subset of the general public might have grown up with an index-card-based note taking practice and guessed at what their value may have been though largely at that point index card note systems were generally on their way out.

    19. Krapp argues that, despite its ‘respectablelineage’, the card index generally ‘figures only as an anonymous,furtive factor in text generation, acknowledged – all the way into thetwentieth century – merely as a memory crutch’ (361).2 A keyreason for this is due to the fact that the ‘enlightened scholar isexpected to produce innovative thought’ (361); knowledgeproduction, and any prostheses involved in it, ‘became and remaineda private matter’ (361).

      'Memory crutch' implies a physical human failing that needs assistance rather than a phrase like aide-mémoire that doesn't draw that same attention.

    20. Much of Barthes’ intellectual and pedagogical work was producedusing his cards, not just his published texts. For example, Barthes’Collège de France seminar on the topic of the Neutral, thepenultimate course he would take prior to his death, consisted offour bundles of about 800 cards on which was recorded everythingfrom ‘bibliographic indications, some summaries, notes, andprojects on abandoned figures’ (Clerc, 2005: xxi-xxii).

      In addition to using his card index for producing his published works, Barthes also used his note taking system for teaching as well. His final course on the topic of the Neutral, which he taught as a seminar at Collège de France, was contained in four bundles consisting of 800 cards which contained everything from notes, summaries, figures, and bibliographic entries.


      Given this and the easy portability of index cards, should we instead of recommending notebooks, laptops, or systems like Cornell notes, recommend students take notes directly on their note cards and revise them from there? The physicality of the medium may also have other benefits in terms of touch, smell, use of colors on them, etc. for memory and easy regular use. They could also be used physically for spaced repetition relatively quickly.

      Teachers using their index cards of notes physically in class or in discussions has the benefit of modeling the sort of note taking behaviors we might ask of our students. Imagine a classroom that has access to a teacher's public notes (electronic perhaps) which could be searched and cross linked by the students in real-time. This would also allow students to go beyond the immediate topic at hand, but see how that topic may dovetail with the teachers' other research work and interests. This also gives greater meaning to introductory coursework to allow students to see how it underpins other related and advanced intellectual endeavors and invites the student into those spaces as well. This sort of practice could bring to bear the full weight of the literacy space which we center in Western culture, for compare this with the primarily oral interactions that most teachers have with students. It's only in a small subset of suggested or required readings that students can use for leveraging the knowledge of their teachers while all the remainder of the interactions focus on conversation with the instructor and questions that they might put to them. With access to a teacher's card index, they would have so much more as they might also query that separately without making demands of time and attention to their professors. Even if answers aren't immediately forthcoming from the file, then there might at least be bibliographic entries that could be useful.

      I recently had the experience of asking a colleague for some basic references about the history and culture of the ancient Near East. Knowing that he had some significant expertise in the space, it would have been easier to query his proverbial card index for the lived experience and references than to bother him with the burden of doing work to pull them up.

      What sorts of digital systems could help to center these practices? Hypothes.is quickly comes to mind, though many teachers and even students will prefer to keep their notes private and not public where they're searchable.

      Another potential pathway here are systems like FedWiki or anagora.org which provide shared and interlinked note spaces. Have any educators attempted to use these for coursework? The closest I've seen recently are public groups using shared Roam Research or Obsidian-based collections for book clubs.

    21. The filing cards or slipsthat Barthes inserted into his index-card system adhered to a ‘strictformat’: they had to be precisely one quarter the size of his usualsheet of writing paper. Barthes (1991: 180) records that this systemchanged when standards were readjusted as part of moves towardsEuropean unification. Within the collection there was considerable‘interior mobility’ (Hollier, 2005: 40), with cards constantlyreordered. There were also multiple layerings of text on each card,with original text frequently annotated and altered.

      Barthes kept his system to a 'strict format' of cards which were one quarter the size of his usual sheet of writing paper, though he did adjust the size over time as paper sizes standardized within Europe. Hollier indicates that the collection had considerable 'interior mobility' and the cards were constantly reordered with use. Barthes also apparently frequently annotated and altered his notes on cards, so they were also changing with use over time.


      Did he make his own cards or purchase them? The sizing of his paper with respect to his cards might indicate that he made his own as it would have been relatively easy to fold his own paper in half twice and cut it up.

      Were his cards numbered or marked so as to be able to put them into some sort of standard order? There's a mention of 'interior mobility' and if this was the case were they just floating around internally or were they somehow indexed and tethered (linked) together?

      The fact that they were regularly used, revise, and easily reordered means that they could definitely have been used to elicit creativity in the same manner as Raymond Llull's combinatorial art, though done externally rather than within one's own mind.

    22. Barthes’ use of these cards goes back tohis first readin g of Michelet in 1943, which, as Hollier (2005: 40)notes, is more or less also the time of his very first articles. By 1945,Barthes had already amassed over 1,000 index cards on Michelet’swork alone, which he reportedly transported with him everywhere,from Romania to Egypt (Calvet, 1994: 113).

      Note the idea here about how easily portable a 1,000 card index must have been or alternately how important it must have been that Barthes traveled with it.

    23. arthes’ use ofindex cards has been documented elsewhere (Krapp, 2006; Hollier,2005; Calvet, 1994)

      Roland Barthes' use of index cards has been documented by the following:

      Krapp, P. (2006) ‘Hypertext Avant La Lettre’, in W. H. K. Chun & T. Keenan (eds), New Media, Old Theory: A History and Theory Reader. New York: Routledge: 359-373.

      Hollier, D. (2005) ‘Notes (on the Index Card)’, October 112 (Spring): 35-44.

      Calvet, J.-L. (1994) Roland Barthes: A Biography. Trans. S. Wykes. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

    24. Denis Hollier, in an essayon index card use by Barthes and Michel Leiris, argues that Leiris’use of index cards in writing his autobiography results in ‘asecondary, indirect autobiography, originating not from thesubject’s innermost self, but from the stack of index cards (theautobiographical shards) in the little box on the author’s desk’(Hollier, 2005: 39).

      Wait, what?! Someone's written an essay on index card use by these two?!

    25. I am speaking here of what appear to be Barthes’ fichier boîte or indexcard boxes which are visible on the shelf above and behind his head.

      First time I've run across the French term fichier boîte (literally 'file box') for index card boxes or files.


      As someone looking into note taking practices and aware of the idea of the zettelkasten, the suspense is building for me. I'm hoping this paper will have the payoff I'm looking for: a description of Roland Barthes' note taking methods!

    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Wp6q5hUdtA

      Nice example of someone building their own paper-based zettelkasten an how they use it.

      Seemingly missing here is any sort of indexing system which means one is more reliant on the threads from one card to the next. Also missing are any other examples of links to other cards beyond the one this particular card is placed behind.

      Scott Scheper is using the word antinet, presumably to focus on non-digital versions of zettelkasten. Sounds more like a marketing word that essentially means paper zettelkasten or card index.

    1. 2. What influence does annotating with an audience have on how you annotate? My annotations and notes generally are fragile things, tentative formulations, or shortened formulations that have meaning because of what they point to (in my network of notes and thoughts), not so much because of their wording. Likewise my notes and notions read differently than my blog posts. Because my blog posts have an audience, my notes/notions are half of the internal dialogue with myself. Were I to annotate in the knowledge that it would be public, I would write very differently, it would be more a performance, less probing forwards in my thoughts. I remember that publicly shared bookmarks with notes in Delicious already had that effect for me. Do you annotate differently in public view, self censoring or self editing?

      To a great extent, Hypothes.is has such a small footprint of users (in comparison to massive platforms like Twitter, Facebook, etc.) that it's never been a performative platform for me. As a design choice they have specifically kept their social media functionalities very sparse, so one also doesn't generally encounter the toxic elements that are rampant in other locations. This helps immensely. I might likely change my tune if it were ever to hit larger scales or experienced the Eternal September effect.

      Beyond this, I mostly endeavor to write things for later re-use. As a result I'm trying to write as clearly as possible in full sentences and explain things as best I can so that my future self doesn't need to do heavy work or lifting to recreate the context or do heavy editing. Writing notes in public and knowing that others might read these ideas does hold my feet to the fire in this respect. Half-formed thoughts are often shaky and unclear both to me and to others and really do no one any good. In personal experience they also tend not to be revisited and revised or revised as well as I would have done the first time around (in public or otherwise).

      Occasionally I'll be in a rush reading something and not have time for more detailed notes in which case I'll do my best to get the broad gist knowing that later in the day or at least within the week, I'll revisit the notes in my own spaces and heavily elaborate on them. I've been endeavoring to stay away from this bad habit though as it's just kicking the can down the road and not getting the work done that I ultimately want to have. Usually when I'm being fast/lazy, my notes will revert to highlighting and tagging sections of material that are straightforward facts that I'll only be reframing into my own words at a later date for reuse. If it's an original though or comment or link to something important, I'll go all in and put in the actual work right now. Doing it later has generally been a recipe for disaster in my experience.

      There have been a few instances where a half-formed thought does get seen and called out. Or it's a thought which I have significantly more personal context for and that is only reflected in the body of my other notes, but isn't apparent in the public version. Usually these provide some additional insight which I hadn't had that makes the overall enterprise more interesting. Here's a recent example, albeit on a private document, but which I think still has enough context to be reasonably clear: https://hypothes.is/a/vmmw4KPmEeyvf7NWphRiMw

      There may also be infrequent articles online which are heavily annotated and which I'm excerpting ideas to be reused later. In these cases I may highlight and rewrite them in my own words for later use in a piece, but I'll make them private or put them in a private group as they don't add any value to the original article or potential conversation though they do add significant value to my collection as "literature notes" for immediate reuse somewhere in the future. On broadly unannotated documents, I'll leave these literature notes public as a means of modeling the practice for others, though without the suggestion of how they would be (re-)used for.

      All this being said, I will very rarely annotate things privately or in a private group if they're of a very sensitive cultural nature or personal in manner. My current set up with Hypothesidian still allows me to import these notes into Obsidian with my API key. In practice these tend to be incredibly rare for me and may only occur a handful of times in a year.

      Generally my intention is that ultimately all of my notes get published in something in a final form somewhere, so I'm really only frontloading the work into the notes now to make the writing/editing process easier later.

    1. Nabokov’s working notecards for “Lolita.”

      Nabokov used index cards for his research and writing. In one index card for research on Lolita, he creates a "weight-heigh-age table for girls of school age" to be able to specify Lolita's measurements. He also researched the Colt catalog of 1940 to get gun specifications to make those small points realistic in his writing.

      syndication link

    2. <small><cite class='h-cite via'> <span class='p-author h-card'>Colin Marshall</span> in The Notecards on Which Vladimir Nabokov Wrote Lolita: A Look Inside the Author's Creative Process | Open Culture (<time class='dt-published'>04/10/2022 12:18:34</time>)</cite></small>

    1. When Vladimir Nabokov died in 1977, he left instructions for his heirs to burn the 138 handwritten index cards that made up the rough draft of his final and unfinished novel, The Original of Laura. But Nabokov’s wife, Vera, could not bear to destroy her husband’s last work, and when she died, the fate of the manuscript fell to her son. Dmitri Nabokov, now seventy-five—the Russian novelist’s only surviving heir, and translator of many of his books—has wrestled for three decades with the decision of whether to honor his father’s wish or preserve for posterity the last piece of writing of one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century.

      Nabokov's wishes were that his heirs burn the index cards on which he had handwritten the beginning of his unfinished novel The Original of Laura. His wife Vera, not able to destroy her husband's work, couldn't do it, so the decision fell to their son Dimitri. Having translated many of his father's works previously, Dimitri Nabokov ultimately allowed Penguin the right to publish the unfinished novel.

    1. Reviewing The Original of Laura, Alexander Theroux describes the cards as a “portable strategy that allowed [Nabokov] to compose in the car while his wife drove the devoted lepidopterist on butterfly expeditions.”

      While note cards have a certain portability about them for writing almost anywhere, aren't notebooks just as easily portable? In fact, with a notebook, one doesn't need to worry about spilling and unordering the entire enterprise.

      There are, however, other benefits. By using small atomic pieces on note cards, one can be far more focused on the idea and words immediately at hand. It's also far easier in a creative and editorial process to move pieces around experimentally.

      Similarly, when facing Hemmingway's White Bull, the size and space of an index card is fall smaller. This may have the effect that Twitter's short status updates have for writers who aren't faced with the seemingly insurmountable burden of writing a long blog post or essay in other software. They can write 280 characters and stop. Of if they feel motivated, they can continue on by adding to the prior parts of a growing thread. Sadly, Twitter doesn't allow either editing or rearrangements, so the endeavor and analogy are lost beyond here.

    2. Having died in 1977, Nabokov never completed the book, and so all Penguin had to publish decades later came to, as the subtitle indicates, A Novel in Fragments. These “fragments” he wrote on 138 cards, and the book as published includes full-color reproductions that you can actually tear out and organize — and re-organize — for yourself, “complete with smudges, cross-outs, words scrawled out in Russian and French (he was trilingual) and annotated notes to himself about titles of chapters and key points he wants to make about his characters.”

      Vladimir Nabokov died in 1977 leaving an unfinished manuscript in note card form for the novel The Original of Laura. Penguin later published the incomplete novel with in 2012 with the subtitle A Novel in Fragments. Unlike most manuscripts written or typewritten on larger paper, this one came in the form of 138 index cards. Penguin's published version recreated these cards in full-color reproductions including the smudges, scribbles, scrawlings, strikeouts, and annotations in English, French, and Russian. Perforated, one could tear the cards out of the book and reorganize in any way they saw fit or even potentially add their own cards to finish the novel that Nabokov couldn't.


      Link to the idea behind Cain’s Jawbone by Edward Powys Mathers which had a different conceit, but a similar publishing form.

    3. https://www.openculture.com/2014/02/the-notecards-on-which-vladimir-nabokov-wrote-lolita.html

      Some basic information about Vladimir Nabokov's card file which he was using to write The Origin of Laura and a tangent on cards relating to Lolita.

    1. Henri Cartier-Bresson, Roland Barthes, 1963. © PAR79520 Henri CartierBresson/Magnum Photos.

      A photo of Roland Barthes from 1963 featured in Picturing Barthes: The Photographic Construction of Authorship (Oxford University Press, 2020) DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266670.003.0007

      There appears to be in index card file behind him in the photo, which he may have used for note taking in the mode of a zettelkasten.

      link to journal article notes on:

      Wilken, Rowan. “The Card Index as Creativity Machine.” Culture Machine 11 (2010): 7–30. https://culturemachine.net/creative-media/

    1. anadvocate for the index card in the early twentieth century, for example, called forthe use of index cards in imitation of “accountants of the modern school.”32

      Zedelmaier argues that scholarly methods of informa- tion management inspired bureaucratic information management; see Zedelmaier (2004), 203.

      Go digging around here for links to the history of index cards, zettelkasten, and business/accounting.

  8. Feb 2022
    1. In fact, my allegiance to Scrivener basically boils down to just three tricks that the software performs, but those tricks are so good that I’m more than willing to put up with all the rest of the tool’s complexity.Those three tricks are:Every Scrivener document is made up of little cards of text — called “scrivenings” in the lingo — that are presented in an outline view on the left hand side of the window. Select a card, and you see the text associated with that card in the main view.If you select more than one card in the outline, the combined text of those cards is presented in a single scrolling view in the main window. You can easily merge a series of cards into one longer card.The cards can be nested; you can create a card called, say, “biographical info”, and then drag six cards that contain quotes about given character’s biography into that card, effectively creating a new folder. That folder can in turn be nested inside another folder, and so on. If you select an entire folder, you see the combined text of all the cards as a single scrolling document.

      Steven Johnson identifies the three features of Scrivener which provide him with the most value.

      Notice the close similarity of these features to those of a traditional zettelkasten: cards of text which can be linked together and rearranged into lines of thought.

      One difference is the focus on the creation of folders which creates definite hierarchies rather than networks of thought.

    1. In preparing these instructions, Gaspard-Michel LeBlond, one of their authors, urges the use of uniform media for registering titles, suggesting that “ catalog materials are not diffi cult to assemble; it is suffi cient to use playing cards [. . .] Whether one writes lengthwise or across the backs of cards, one should pick one way and stick with it to preserve uniformity. ” 110 Presumably LeBlond was familiar with the work of Abb é Rozier fi fteen years earlier; it is unknown whether precisely cut cards had been used before Rozier. The activity of cutting up pages is often mentioned in prior descrip-tions.

      In published instructions issued on May 8, 1791 in France, Gaspard-Michel LeBlond by way of standardization for library catalogs suggests using playing cards either vertically or horizontally but admonishing catalogers to pick one orientation and stick with it. He was likely familiar with the use of playing cards for this purpose by Abbé Rozier fifteen years earlier.

    2. 4. What follows is the compilation of the basic catalog; that is, all book titles are copied on a piece of paper (whose pagina aversa must remain blank) according to a specifi c order, so that together with the title of every book and the name of the author, the place, year, and format of the printing, the volume, and the place of the same in the library is marked.

      Benedictine abbot Franz Stephan Rautenstrauch (1734 – 1785) in creating the Catalogo Topographico for the Vienna University Library created a nine point instruction set for cataloging, describing, and ordering books which included using paper slips.


      Interesting to note that the admonishment to leave the backs of the slips (pagina aversa), in the 1780's seems to make its way into 20th century practice by Luhmann and others.

    3. Rozier chances upon the labor-saving idea of producing catalogs according to Gessner ’ s procedures — that is, transferring titles onto one side of a piece of paper before copying them into tabular form. Yet he optimizes this process by dint of a small refi nement, with regard to the paper itself: instead of copying data onto specially cut octavo sheets, he uses uniformly and precisely cut paper whose ordinary purpose obeys the contingent pleasure of being shuffl ed, ordered, and exchanged: “ cartes à jouer. ” 35 In sticking strictly to the playing card sizes available in prerevolutionary France (either 83 × 43 mm or 70 × 43 mm), Rozier cast his bibliographical specifi cations into a standardized and therefore easily handled format.

      Abbé François Rozier cleverly transferred book titles onto the blank side of French playing cards instead of cut octavo sheets as a means of indexing after being appointed in 1775 to index the holdings of the Académie des Sciences in Paris.

  9. Jan 2022
    1. Here, the card index func-tions as a ‘thinking machine’,67 and becomes the best communication partner for learned men.68

      From a computer science perspective, isn't the index card functioning like an external memory, albeit one with somewhat pre-arranged linked paths? It's the movement through the machine's various paths that is doing the "thinking". Or the user's (active) choices that create the paths creates the impression of thinking.

      Perhaps it's the pre-arranged links where the thinking has already happened (based on "work" put into the system) and then traversing the paths gives the appearance of "new" thinking?

      How does this relate to other systems which can be thought of as thinking from a complexity perspective? Bacteria perhaps? Groups of cells acting in concert? Groups of people acting in concert? Cells seeing out food using random walks? etc?

      From this perspective, how can we break out the constituent parts of thought and thinking? Consciousness? With enough nodes and edges and choices of paths between them (or a "correct" subset of paths) could anything look like thinking or computing?

  10. Dec 2021
    1. index card file

      Given the use case that Niklas Luhmann had, the translation of zettelkasten into English is better read as "index card file" rather than the simpler and more direct translation "slip box".

      While it's not often talked about in the recent contexts, there is a long history of using index cards for note taking in the United States and the idea of an index card file was once ubiquitous. There has been such a long span between this former ubiquity and our digital modernity that the idea of a zettelkasten seems like a wondrous new tool, never seen before. As a result, people in within social media, the personal knowledge management space, or the tools for thought space will happily use the phrase zettelkasten as if it is the hottest and newest thing on the planet.

    1. An absolutely beautiful design for short notes.

      This is the sort of theme that will appeal to zettelkasten users who are building digital gardens. A bit of the old mixed in with the new.

      <small><cite class='h-cite via'> <span class='p-author h-card'>Pete Moor </span> in // pimoore.ca (<time class='dt-published'>12/24/2021 18:02:15</time>)</cite></small>

    1. Commonplaces were no longer repositories of redundancy, but devices for storing knowledge expansion.

      With the invention of the index card and atomic, easily moveable information that can be permuted and re-ordered, the idea of commonplacing doesn't simply highlight and repeat the older wise sayings (sententiae), but allows them to become repositories of new and expanding information. We don't just excerpt anymore, but mix the older thoughts with newer thoughts. This evolution creates a Cambrian explosion of ideas that helps to fuel the information overload from the 16th century onward.

    2. Through an inner structure of recursive links and semantic pointers, a card index achieves a proper autonomy; it behaves as a ‘communication partner’ who can recommend unexpected associations among different ideas. I suggest that in this respect pre-adaptive advances took root in early modern Europe, and that this basic requisite for information pro-cessing machines was formulated largely by the keyword ‘order’.

      aliases for "topical headings": headwords keywords tags categories

    1. One more thing ought to be explained in advance: why the card index is indeed a paper machine. As we will see, card indexes not only possess all the basic logical elements of the universal discrete machine — they also fi t a strict understanding of theoretical kinematics . The possibility of rear-ranging its elements makes the card index a machine: if changing the position of a slip of paper and subsequently introducing it in another place means shifting other index cards, this process can be described as a chained mechanism. This “ starts moving when force is exerted on one of its movable parts, thus changing its position. What follows is mechanical work taking place under particular conditions. This is what we call a machine . ” 11 The force taking effect is the user ’ s hand. A book lacks this property of free motion, and owing to its rigid form it is not a paper machine.

      The mechanical work of moving an index card from one position to another (and potentially changing or modifying links to it in the process) allows us to call card catalogues paper machines. This property is not shared by information stored in codices or scrolls and thus we do not call books paper machines.

    2. Foucault proclaimed in a footnote: “ Appearance of the index card and development of the human sciences: another invention little celebrated by historians. ”

      from Foucault 1975, p. 363, n. 49; see Foucault 1966, pp. XV and passim for discourse analysis.

      Is he talking here about the invention of the index card about the same time as the rise of the scientific method? With index cards one can directly compare and contrast two different ideas as if weighing them on a balance to see which carries more weight. Then the better idea can win while the lesser is discarded to the "scrap heap"?

    3. Here, I also briefl y digress and examine two coinciding addressing logics: In the same decade and in the same town, the origin of the card index cooccurs with the invention of the house number. This establishes the possibility of abstract representation of (and controlled access to) both texts and inhabitants.

      Curiously, and possibly coincidently, the idea of the index card and the invention of the house number co-occur in the same decade and the same town. This creates the potential of abstracting the representation of information and people into numbers for easier access and linking.

    4. What differs here from other data storage (as in the medium of the codex book) is a simple and obvious principle: information is available on separate, uniform, and mobile carriers and can be further arranged and processed according to strict systems of order.

      The primary value of the card catalogue and index cards as tools for thought is that it is a self-contained, uniform and mobile carrier that can be arranged and processed based on strict systems of order. Books have many of these properties, but the information isn't as atomic or as easily re-ordered.

    5. s Alan Turing proved only years later, these machines merely need (1) a (theoretically infi nite) partitioned paper tape, (2) a writing and reading head, and (3) an exact

      procedure for the writing and reading head to move over the paper segments. This book seeks to map the three basic logical components of every computer onto the card catalog as a “ paper machine,” analyzing its data processing and interfaces that may justify the claim, “Card catalogs can do anything!”

      Purpose of the book.

      A card catalog of index cards used by a human meets all the basic criteria of a Turing machine, or abstract computer, as defined by Alan Turing.

    6. “ Card catalogs can do anything ” — this is the slogan Fortschritt GmbH

      What a great quote to start off a book like this!

  11. Nov 2021
    1. on advocate for the index card in the early twentieth century called for animitation of “accountants of the modern schoolY”1

      Paul Chavigny, Organisation du travail intellectuel: Recettes pratiques a` l’usage des e ́tudiants de toutes les faculte ́s et de tous les travailleurs (Paris, 1920)

      Chavigny was an advocate for the index card in note taking in imitation of "accountants of the modern school". We know that the rise of the index card was hastened by the innovation of Melvil Dewey's company using index cards as part of their internal accounting system, which they actively exported to other companies as a product.

  12. Aug 2021
    1. I accumulated altogether between 5.000 and 6.000 note cards from 1974 to 1985, most of which I still keep for sentimental reasons and sometimes actually still consult.

      Manfred Kuehn's index card commonplace from 1974 - 1985

    2. In writing my dissertation and working on my first book, I used an index card system, characterized by the "one fact, one card" maxim, made popular by Beatrice Webb. [4]

      I've not come across Beatrice Webb before, but I'm curious to see what her system looks like based on this statement.

      From the footnotes:

      She observed in the appendix to her My Apprenticeship of 1926, called The Art of Note-Taking: "It is difficult to persuade the accomplished graduate of Oxford or Cambridge that an indispensable instrument in the technique of sociological enquiry - seeing that without it any of the methods of acquiring facts can seldom be used effectively - is the making of notes" Webb, Beatrice (1926) My Apprenticeship (London: Longmans, Green, and Co.), pp. 426-7.

    1. Now, whenever I have a thought worth capturing, I write it on an index card in either marker pen or biro (depending on the length of the thought), and place in the relevant box. I use index cards for books, blogs, conversations I overhear at the club, memories, etc. They’re in my coat pocket when I fetch the kids from school. I leave them handy in the locker at the swimming pool (where I do much of my best thinking). And I run with them. Sound weird? Well, I’m in good company. Ryan Holiday[116], Anne Lamott[117], Robert Greene[118], Oliver Burkeman[119], Ronald Reagan, Vladimir Nabokov[120] and Ludwig Wittgenstein[121] all use (d) the humble index card to catalogue and organise their thoughts. If you’re serious about embarking on this digital journey, buy a hundred-pack of 127 x 76mm ruled index cards for less than a pound, rescue a shoebox from the attic and stick a few marker-penned notecards on their end to act as dividers. Write a “My Digital Box” label on the top of the shoebox, and you’re off.

      apparently a quote from Reset: How to Restart Your Life and Get F.U. Money by David Sawyer FCIPR.

      Notes about users of index card based commonplace books.

    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.

    1. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/washington/2011-05-08-reagan-notes-book-brinkley_n.htm

      An article indicating that President Ronald Reagan kept a commonplace book throughout his life. He maintained it on index cards, often with as many as 10 entries per card. The article doesn't seem to indicate that there was any particular organization, index, or taxonomy involved.

      It's now housed at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA.