145 Matching Annotations
  1. Oct 2023
    1. It's been burning in my mind all day: you're right that too often, for reasons likely hidden in the folds of of educational reform, some of our most powerful methods of working, researching, and writing are lost or seem like magic when they're rediscovered. Rarely are classes on the subject taught, thereby leaving the student to find their own way in the dark. Thank you for pulling back the curtain covering the proverbial proscenium arch on Act I of research methods.

      For those flailing in the dark, Keith Thomas's brief essay (2010) discusses some of the basic problem along with solutions, while Adler and Van Doren (1972) talk about the levels of reading which are now rarely taught or reached (and how to reach them), and finally, imminent scholars/researchers like Umberto Eco or Jacques Barzun & Henry Graff reveal alternate versions of what you're already doing. Others certainly exist, often in piecemeal form, but this short set in combination with your YouTube channel for examples provides one royal road to the destination many seek.

      • Thomas, Keith. “Diary: Working Methods.” London Review of Books, June 10, 2010.
      • Adler, Mortimer J., and Charles Van Doren. How to Read a Book: The Classical Guide to Intelligent Reading. Revised and Updated edition. 1940. Reprint, Touchstone, 2011.
      • Eco, Umberto. How to Write a Thesis. Translated by Caterina Mongiat Farina and Geoff Farina. 1977. Reprint, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2015.
      • Barzun, Jacques, and Henry F. Graff. The Modern Researcher. New York, Harcourt, Brace, 1957.
  2. Sep 2023
    1. t may be that in using his system hedeveloped his mind and his knowledge of history to the point wherehe expected his readers to draw more inferences from the facts heselected than most modern readers are accustomed to doing, in thisday of the predigested book.

      It's possible that the process of note taking and excerpting may impose levels of analysis and synthesis on their users such that when writing and synthesizing their works that they more subtly expect their readers to do the same thing when their audiences may require more handholding and explanation.

      Here, both the authors' experiences and that of the cultures in which they're writing will determine the relationship.

      There's lots of analogies between thinking and digesting (rumination, consumption, etc), in reading and understanding contexts.

      Source: https://hypothes.is/a/hhCGsljeEe2QlccJUQ55fA

    1. Merchants have their waste book, Sudelbuch or Klitterbuch in German I believe, in which they list all that they have sold or bought every single day, everything as it comes and in no particular order. The waste book’s content is then transferred to the Journal in a more systematic fashion, and at last it ends up in the “Leidger [sic] at double entrance,” following the Italian way of bookkeeping. […] This is a process worthy of imitation by the learned.”(See Ulrich Joost’s analysis in this volume, 24-35.)

      I've seen this quote earlier today, but interesting seeing another source quote it.

    1. Merchants and traders have a waste book (Sudelbuch, Klitterbuch in GermanI believe) in which they enter daily everything they purchase and sell,messily, without order. From this, it is transferred to their journal, whereeverything appears more systematic, and finally to a ledger, in double entryafter the Italian manner of bookkeeping, where one settles accounts witheach man, once as debtor and then as creditor. This deserves to be imitatedby scholars. First it should be entered in a book in which I record everythingas I see it or as it is given to me in my thoughts; then it may be enteredin another book in which the material is more separated and ordered, andthe ledger might then contain, in an ordered expression, the connectionsand explanations of the material that flow from it. [46]

      —Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Notebook E, #46, 1775–1776

      In this single paragraph quote Lichtenberg, using the model of Italian bookkeepers of the 18th century, broadly outlines almost all of the note taking technique suggested by Sönke Ahrens in How to Take Smart Notes. He's got writing down and keeping fleeting notes as well as literature notes. (Keeping academic references would have been commonplace by this time.) He follows up with rewriting and expanding on the original note to create additional "explanations" and even "connections" (links) to create what Ahrens describes as permanent notes or which some would call evergreen notes.

      Lichtenberg's version calls for the permanent notes to be "separated and ordered" and while he may have kept them in book format himself, it's easy to see from Konrad Gessner's suggestion at the use of slips centuries before, that one could easily put their permanent notes on index cards ("separated") and then number and index or categorize them ("ordered"). The only serious missing piece of Luhmann's version of a zettelkasten then are the ideas of placing related ideas nearby each other, though the idea of creating connections between notes is immediately adjacent to this, and his numbering system, which was broadly based on the popularity of Melvil Dewey's decimal system.

      It may bear noticing that John Locke's indexing system for commonplace books was suggested, originally in French in 1685, and later in English in 1706. Given it's popularity, it's not unlikely that Lichtenberg would have been aware of it.

      Given Lichtenberg's very popular waste books were known to have influenced Leo Tolstoy, Albert Einstein, Andre Breton, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. (Reference: Lichtenberg, Georg Christoph (2000). The Waste Books. New York: New York Review Books Classics. ISBN 978-0940322509.) It would not be hard to imagine that Niklas Luhmann would have also been aware of them.

      Open questions: <br /> - did Lichtenberg number the entries in his own waste books? This would be early evidence toward the practice of numbering notes for future reference. Based on this text, it's obvious that the editor numbered the translated notes for this edition, were they Lichtenberg's numbering? - Is there evidence that Lichtenberg knew of Locke's indexing system? Did his waste books have an index?

    1. folgezettel pushes the note maker toward making at least one connection at the time of import.

      There is a difference between the sorts of links one might make when placing an idea into an (analog) zettelkasten. A folgezettel link is more valuable than a simple tag/category link because it places an idea into a more specific neighborhood than any handful of tags. This is one of the benefits of a Luhmann-artig ZK system over a more traditional commonplace one, particularly when the work is done up front instead of being punted to a later time.

      For those with a 1A2B3Z linking system (versus a pure decimal system), it may be more difficult to insert a card before other cards rather than after them because of the potential gymnastics of numbering and the natural tendency to put things into a continuing linear order.

      See also: - https://hypothes.is/a/ToqCPq1bEe2Q0b88j4whwQ - https://hyp.is/WtB2AqmlEe2wvCsB5ZyL5A/docdrop.org/download_annotation_doc/Introduction-to-Luhmanns-Zette---Ludecke-Daniel-h4nh8.pdf

  3. Jul 2023
    1. Overloaded with notes .t3_15218d5._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; } A few years ago I moved from Evernote to Obsidian. Evernote had this cool web clipper feature that helped me gather literary quotes, tweets, Wikipedia facts, interview bits, and any kinds of texts all around the web. And now I have a vault with 10k notes.I am trying to review a few every time I open Obsidian (add tags, link it, or delete) but it is still too much.Did someone have the same experience? How did you manage to fix everything and move to a bit more controllable system (zettelkasten or any other)?Cus I feel like I am standing in front of a text tsunami

      reply to u/posh-and-repressed at https://www.reddit.com/r/ObsidianMD/comments/15218d5/overloaded_with_notes/

      Overwhelm of notes always reminds me of this note taking story from 1908: https://boffosocko.com/2022/10/24/death-by-zettelkasten/ If you've not sorted them, tagged/categorized them or other, then search is really your only recourse. One of the benefits of Luhmann's particular structure is that it nudged him to read and review through older cards as he worked and filed new ones. Those with commonplace books would have occasionally picked up their notebooks and paged through them from time to time. Digital methods like Obsidian don't always do a good job of allowing or even forcing this review work on the user, so you may want to look at synthetic means like one of the random note plugins. Otherwise don't worry too much. Fix your tagging/categorizing/indexing now so that things slowly improve in the future. (I'm sitting on a pile of over 50K notes without the worry of overwhelm, primarily as I've managed to figure out how to rely on my index and search.)

    1. Converting Commonplace Books? .t3_14v2ohz._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; }

      reply to u/ihaveascone at https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/14v2ohz/converting_commonplace_books/

      Don't convert unless you absolutely need to, it will be a lot of soul-crushing make work. Since some of your practice already looks like Ross Ashby's system, why not just continue what you've been doing all along and start a physical index card-based index for your commonplaces? (As opposed to a more classical Lockian index.) As you browse your commonplaces create index cards for topics you find and write down the associated book/page numbers. Over time you'll more quickly make your commonplace books more valuable while still continuing on as you always have without skipping much a beat or attempting to convert over your entire system. Alternately you could do a paper notebook with a digital index too. I came across https://www.indxd.ink, a digital, web-based index tool for your analog notebooks. Ostensibly allows one to digitally index their paper notebooks (page numbers optional). It emails you weekly text updates, so you've got a back up of your data if the site/service disappears. This could potentially be used by those who have analog commonplace/zettelkasten practices, but want the digital search and some back up of their system.

  4. Jun 2023
    1. According to Henderson, there are three steps to keeping a commonplace book:

      1) Read (Consume)

      "Commonplace books begin with observation."

      2) Capture (Write) Always also capture the source.

      3) Reflect Write own thoughts about the material. Synthesize, think.

      I'd personally use a digital commonplace book (hypothes.is), like Chris Aldrich explains, as my capture method and my Antinet Zettelkasten as my reflect methodology. This way the commonplace book fosters what Luhmann would call the thought rumination process.

    1. A commonplace book, according to Jared Henderson, is a way to not collect own thoughts (though sometimes it is) but rather to collect thoughts by others that you deem interesting.

    1. (1:21:20-1:39:40) Chris Aldrich describes his hypothes.is to Zettelkasten workflow. Prevents Collector's Fallacy, still allows to collect a lot. Open Bucket vs. Closed Bucket. Aldrich mentions he uses a common place book using hypothes.is which is where all his interesting highlights and annotations go to, unfiltered, but adequately tagged. This allows him to easily find his material whenever necessary in the future. These are digital. Then the best of the best material that he's interested in and works with (in a project or writing sense?) will go into his Zettelkasten and become fully fledged. This allows to maintain a high gold to mud (signal to noise) ratio for the Zettelkasten. In addition, Aldrich mentions that his ZK is more of his own thoughts and reflections whilst the commonplace book is more of other people's thoughts.

    1. I would advise you to read with a pen in your hand, and enter in a little book short hints of what you find that is curious or that may be useful; for this will be the best method of imprinting such particulars in your memory, where they will be ready either for practice on some future occasion if they are matters of utility, or at least to adorn and improve your conversation if they are rather points of curiosity.

      Benjamin Franklin letter to Miss Stevenson, Wanstead. Craven-street, May 16, 1760.

      Franklin doesn't use the word commonplace book here, but is actively recommending the creation and use of one. He's also encouraging the practice of annotation, though in commonplace form rather than within the book itself.

  5. Mar 2023
    1. Die Erfahrungen Ermans und seiner Mitarbeiter lehren nur zu deutlich, dass die Buchform der Präsentation eines solchen Materialbestands durchaus nicht entgegenkommt.

      For some research the book form is just not conducive to the most productive work. Both the experiences of Beatrice Webb (My Apprenticeship, Appendix C) and Adolph Erman (on Wb) show that database forms for sorting, filtering, and comparing have been highly productive and provide a wealth of information which simply couldn't be done otherwise.

  6. Feb 2023
    1. Beginner question .t3_112wup1._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; } I see that a lot of people have the main categories as natural sciences. Social sciences etcCan I switch it toReligionActivitiesFoodOrganizationMad weird thoughtsCommunication

      reply to u/Turbulent-Focus-1389 at https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/112wup1/beginner_question/

      I'd recommend you do your best to stay away from rigid category-like classifications and see what develops. For specifics see: https://boffosocko.com/2023/01/19/on-the-interdisciplinarity-of-zettelkasten-card-numbering-topical-headings-and-indices/

      If it's easier to conceptualize, think of it all like a map which may have place names, but also has numerical coordinates. Sometimes a specific name like Richard Macksey's house is useful, but other times thinking about a specific coordinate and the general neighborhoods around them will be far more useful in your community development plan. A religion-only neighborhood without religious activities, religious food, religious organization or communication will be a a sad one indeed. If you segregate your communities, they're likely not to be very happy places for co-mingling of ideas and the potential resultant creativity you'll get out of them.

      Bob Doto also suggests a similar philosophy in some of his work, particularly with respect to folgezettel: https://writing.bobdoto.computer/zettelkasten/

      I'll note that this is an incredibly hard thing to do at the start, but it's one which you may very well wish you had done from the beginning.

  7. Jan 2023
    1. I've decided I don't care (too much) where new notes go .t3_10mjwq9._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; }

      reply to u/jackbaty at https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/10mjwq9/ive_decided_i_dont_care_too_much_where_new_notes/

      u/jackbaty, If it doesn't make sense for you (yet, or for your specific needs), you can always follow in the footsteps of the hundreds of thousands who used a topical subject heading method of the commonplace book before Luhmann's example shifted the space over the last decade. If it worked for Francis Bacon, you'll probably be alright too... (See: https://boffosocko.com/2022/06/10/reframing-and-simplifying-the-idea-of-how-to-keep-a-zettelkasten/)

      I find that sometimes, it is useful to bank up a few dozen cards before filing/linking them together. Other times I'll file them by category in a commonplace book like system to ruminate a bit only later to move them to a separate Luhmann-esque zettelkasten area where they're more tightly linked with the ideas around them. After you've been doing it a while, it will be easier to more tightly integrate the three-way conversation or argument you're having between yourself, your card index, and the sources you're thinking about (or reading, watching, listening to). You mention that "my brain needs at least some level of structure", and I totally get it, as most of us (myself included) are programmed to work that way. I've written some thoughts on this recently which may help provide some motivation to get you around it: https://boffosocko.com/2023/01/19/on-the-interdisciplinarity-of-zettelkasten-card-numbering-topical-headings-and-indices/

      It helps to have a pointed reason for why you're doing all this in the first place and that reason will dramatically help to shape your practice and its ultimate structure.

    1. Jan. 22. To set down such choice experiences that my own writingsmay inspire me and at last I may make wholes of parts. Certainly it isa distinct profession to rescue from oblivion and to fix the sentimentsand thoughts which visit all men more or less generally, that thecontemplation of the unfinished picture may suggest its harmoniouscompletion. Associate reverently and as much as you can with yourloftiest thoughts. Each thought that is welcomed and recorded is anest egg, by the side of which more will be laid. Thoughts accidentallythrown together become a frame in which more may be developedand exhibited. Perhaps this is the main value of a habit of writing, ofkeeping a journal,—that so we remember our best hours and stimulateourselves. My thoughts are my company. They have a certainindividuality and separate existence, aye, personality. Having bychance recorded a few disconnected thoughts and then brought theminto juxtaposition, they suggest a whole new field in which it waspossible to labor and to think. Thought begat thought.


      Henry David Thoreau from 1852

  8. Dec 2022
    1. My day to day notebook is a soft 5 inch by 3.5 inch pocket notebook as shown below. I use a mechanical pencil when out and about (no breakage or sharpening) and take a small eraser (in this case an eraser shaped like Lego). This book is good for notes and ideas. Notice I cross them out when I have acted on them in some way (done the work, or given up on the idea). The goal of the daily notebook is to eventually throw it away (not save it). So all work needs to move out and I need to be able to know it has been moved.
    1. Although some of them took a lot of time to create (I literally wrote whole book summaries for a while), their value was negligible in hindsight.

      What was the purpose of these summaries? Were they of areas which weren't readily apparent in hindsight? Often most people's long summaries are really just encapsulalizations of what is apparent from the book jacket. Why bother with this? If they're just summaries of the obvious, then they're usually useless for review specifically because they're obvious. This is must make-work.

      You want to pull out the specific hard-core insights that weren't obvious to you from the jump.

      Most self-help books can be motivating while reading them and the motivation can be helpful, but generally they will only contain one or two useful ideas

    1. On my own website(s) I'm looking to write more content and share more of my experiences. I'm at a time in my life that documenting what is going on so I can recall things easier would be helpful, a place to publicly share my notes in hopes that it will help someone else.

      Hints of personal website as commonplace book.

  9. Nov 2022
    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ueMHkGljK0

      Robert Greene's method goes back to junior high school when he was practicing something similar. He doesn't say he invented it, and it may be likely that teachers modeled some of the system for him. He revised the system over time to make it work for himself.

      • [x] Revisit this for some pull quotes and fine details of his method. (Done on 2022-11-08)
    1. Inevitably, I read and highlight more articles than I have time to fully process in Obsidian. There are currently 483 files in the Readwise/Articles folder and 527 files marked as needing to be processed. I have, depending on how you count, between 3 and 5 jobs right now. I am not going to neatly format all of those files. I am going to focus on the important ones, when I have time.

      I suspect that this example of Eleanor Konik's is incredibly common among note takers. They may have vast repositories of collected material which they can reference or use, but typically don't.

      In digital contexts it's probably much more common that one will have a larger commonplace book-style collection of notes (either in folders or with tags), and a smaller subsection of more highly processed notes (a la Luhmann's practice perhaps) which are more tightly worked and interlinked.

      To a great extent this mirrors much of my own practice as well.

    1. A commonplace book is what a provident poet cannot subsist without, for this proverbial, reason, that "great wits have short memories;" and whereas, on the other hand, poets, being liars by profession, ought to have good memories; to reconcile these, a book of this sort, is in the nature of a supplemental memory, or a record of what occurs remarkable in every day's reading or conversation. There you enter not only your own original thoughts, (which, a hundred to one, are few and insignificant) but such of other men, as you think fit to make your own, by entering them there. For, take this for a rule, when an author is in your books, you have the same demand upon him for his wit, as a merchant has for your money, when you are in his. By these few and easy prescriptions, (with the help of a good genius) it is possible you may, in a short time, arrive at the accomplishments of a poet, and shine in that character[3].

      "Nullum numen abest si sit prudentia, is unquestionably true, with regard to every thing except poetry; and I am very sure that any man of common understanding may, by proper culture, care, attention, and labour, make himself whatever he pleases, except a good poet." Chesterfield, Letter lxxxi.

      See also: https://en.m.wikisource.org/wiki/Page:The_Works_of_the_Rev._Jonathan_Swift,_Volume_5.djvu/261 as a source

      Swift, Jonathan. The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift. Edited by Thomas Sheridan and John Nichols. Vol. 5. 19 vols. London: H. Baldwin and Son, 1801.

    1. "If the Reagans' home in Palisades (Calif.) were burning," Brinkley says, "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 someone saying that if their house were to catch fire, they'd save their commonplace book (first or foremost).

  10. Oct 2022
    1. I feel sympathy for Robert Southey, whose excerpts from his voracious reading were posthumously published in four volumes as Southey’s Common-Place Book. He confessed in 1822 that,Like those persons who frequent sales, and fill their houses with useless purchases, because they may want them some time or other; so am I for ever making collections, and storing up materials which may not come into use till the Greek Calends. And this I have been doing for five-and-twenty years! It is true that I draw daily upon my hoards, and should be poor without them; but in prudence I ought now to be working up these materials rather than adding to so much dead stock.
    2. Another help to the memory is the pocketbook in which to enter stray thoughts and observations: what the Elizabethans called ‘tablets’.

      Elizabethans called pocketbooks or small notebooks "tablets."

    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mI3yiPA6npA

      Generally interesting and useful, but is broadly an extended advertisement for JetPens products.

      Transparent sticky notes allow one to take notes on them, but the text is still visible through the paper.

      One can use separate pages to write notes and then use washi tape to tape the notes to the page in a hinge-like fashion similar to selectively interleaving one's books.

    1. I might even say the best books are the best books because they stubbornly defy being reduced to a synopsis and some notes. Another way of saying that is, great books have so much in them that many different people with many different interests can all find something they’ll value in their pages.

      This might be said of art, design, or any pursuit. Any design might comprise hundreds of design decisions. The more there are, the more depth to the design, the more facets of the problem space it has examined, the more knowledge it may contain, the more potential to learn.

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

      Writer Jean Paul on the importance of his Zettelkasten.

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

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

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

    1. And yet that is not " r e a l l y " how the project arose.What really happened is that the idea and the plan cameout o f my files; for all projects with me begin and end withthem, and books are simply organized releases from thecontinuous work that goes into them.

      Surely by "files" he means his written notes and ideas which he has filed away?

      Thus articles and books are agglomerations of ideas within notes (or perhaps one's retained memory, as best as that might be done) which are then broken off from them and released to a wider readership.

  11. Sep 2022
    1. Capture Cards (red) 4.00 Beautifully Useful 3″ x 5″ Index Cards (Pack of 100)I created my Capture Cards to help make it easier for me to capture ideas, make notes, and record tasks as they happen. Good tools have a way of removing frustration and stress from a workflow, and for me, these cards do just that.Just enough structure to help you capture, but not enough to get in the way.They’re printed full-bleed on 70lb (heavy and durable) premium smooth white cover stock, and you get 100 2-sided cards in each pack. They feel great in your hand, yet hold up well in your pocket.


      Simple index cards, but sold with a purpose in mind: capturing notes!

      One is reminded here of waste books and fleeting notes.

      Image:<br /> Graph ruled index cards with two colored title areas-grey and red-on the top front and a grey footer with a red band at the header of the back

    1. Andy 10:31AM Flag Thanks for sharing all this. In a Twitter response, @taurusnoises said: "we are all participating in an evolving dynamic history of zettelkasten methods (plural)". I imagine the plurality of methods is even more diverse than indicated by @chrisaldrich, who seems to be keen to trace everything through a single historical tradition back to commonplace books. But if you consider that every scholar who ever worked must have had some kind of note-taking method, and that many of them probably used paper slips or cards, and that they may have invented methods relatively independently and tailored those methods to diverse needs, then we are looking at a much more interesting plurality of methods indeed.

      Andy, I take that much broader view you're describing. I definitely wouldn't say I'm keen to trace things through one (or even more) historical traditions, and to be sure there have been very many. I'm curious about a broad variety of traditions and variations on them; giving broad categorization to them can be helpful. I study both the written instructions through time, but also look at specific examples people have left behind of how they actually practiced those instructions. The vast majority of people are not likely to invent and evolve a practice alone, but are more likely likely to imitate the broad instructions read from a manual or taught by teachers and then pick and choose what they feel works for them and their particular needs. It's ultimately here that general laziness is likely to fall down to a least common denominator.

      Between the 8th and 13th Centuries florilegium flouished, likely passed from user to user through a religious network, primarily facilitated by the Catholic Church and mendicant orders of the time period. In the late 1400s to 1500s, there were incredibly popular handbooks outlining the commonplace book by Erasmus, Agricola, and Melancthon that influenced generations of both teachers and students to come. These traditions ebbed and flowed over time and bent to the technologies of their times (index cards, card catalogs, carbon copy paper, computers, internet, desktop/mobile/browser applications, and others.) Naturally now we see a new crop of writers and "influencers" like Kuehn, Ahrens, Allosso, Holiday, Forte, Milo, and even zettelkasten.de prescribing methods which are variously followed (or not), understood, misunderstood, modified, and changed by readers looking for something they can easily follow, maintain, and which hopefully has both short term and long term value to them.

      Everyone is taking what they want from what they read on these techniques, but often they're not presented with the broadest array of methods or told what the benefits and affordances of each of the methods may be. Most manuals on these topics are pretty prescriptive and few offer or suggest flexibility. If you read Tiago Forte but don't need a system for work or project-based productivity but rather need a more Luhmann-like system for academic writing, you'll have missed something or will only have a tool that gets you part of what you may have needed. Similarly if you don't need the affordances of a Luhmannesque system, but you've only read Ahrens, you might not find the value of simplified but similar systems and may get lost in terminology you don't understand or may not use. The worst sin, in my opinion, is when these writers offer their advice, based only on their own experiences which are contingent on their own work processes, and say this is "the way" or I've developed "this method" over the past decade of grueling, hard-fought experience and it's the "secret" to the "magic of note taking". These ideas have a long and deep history with lots of exploration and (usually very little) innovation, but an average person isn't able to take advantage of this because they're only seeing a tiny slice of these broader practices. They're being given a hammer instead of a whole toolbox of useful tools from which they might choose. Almost none are asking the user "What is the problem you're trying to solve?" and then making suggestions about what may or may not have worked for similar problems in the past as a means of arriving at a solution. More often they're being thrown in the deep end and covered in four letter acronyms, jargon, and theory which ultimately have no value to them. In other cases they're being sold on the magic of productivity and creativity while the work involved is downplayed and they don't get far enough into the work to see any of the promised productivity and creativity.

  12. Aug 2022
    1. At the time he was selling, Jay-Z was also coming up with rhymes. He normally wrote down his material in a green notebook he carried around with him — but he never took the notebook with him on the streets, he says. "I would run into the corner store, the bodega, and just grab a paper bag or buy juice — anything just to get a paper bag," he says. "And I'd write the words on the paper bag and stuff these ideas in my pocket until I got back. Then I would transfer them into the notebook. As I got further and further away from home and my notebook, I had to memorize these rhymes — longer and longer and longer. ... By the time I got to record my first album, I was 26, I didn't need pen or paper — my memory had been trained just to listen to a song, think of the words, and lay them to tape." Since his first album, he says, he's never written down any of his lyrics. "I've lost plenty of material," he says. "It's not the best way. I wouldn't advise it to anyone. I've lost a couple albums' worth of great material. ... Think about when you can't remember a word and it drives you crazy. So imagine forgetting an entire rhyme. 'What's that? I said I was the greatest something?' "

      In his youth, while selling drugs on the side, Jay-Z would write down material for lyrics into a green notebook. He never took the notebook around with him on the streets, but instead would buy anything at a corner store just for the paper bags as writing material. He would write the words onto these paper bags and stuff them into his pockets (wearable Zettelkasten anyone? or maybe Zetteltasche?) When he got home, in long standing waste book tradition, he would transfer the words to his notebook.

      Jay-Z has said he hasn't written down any lyrics since his first album, but warns, "I've lost plenty of material. It's not the best way. I wouldn't advise it to anyone. I've lost a couple albums' worth of great material."


      Link to: https://hypothes.is/a/T3Z38uDUEeuFcPu2U_w_zA (Jonathan Edwards' zettelmantle)

    1. https://occidental.substack.com/p/the-adlernet-guide-part-ii?sd=pf

      Description of a note taking method for reading the Great Books: part commonplace, part zettelkasten.

      I'm curious where she's ultimately placing the cards to know if the color coding means anything in the end other than simply differentiating the card "types" up front? (i.e. does it help to distinguish cards once potentially mixed up?)

    1. For the sheets that are filled with content on one side however, the most most importantaspect is its actual “address”, which at the same time gives it its title by which it can alwaysbe found among its comrades: the keyword belongs to the upper row of the sheet

      following the commonplace tradition, the keyword gets pride of place...

      Watch here the word "address" and double check the original German word in translation. What was it originally? Seems a tad odd to hear "address" applied to a keyword which is likely to be just one of many. How to keep them all straight?

    2. scientists as well asstudents of science carefully put the diverse results of their reading and thinking process intoone or a few note books that are separated by topic.

      A specific reference to the commonplace book tradition and in particular the practice of segmenting note books into pre-defined segments with particular topic headings. This practice described here also ignores the practice of keeping an index (either in a separate notebook or in the front/back of the notebook as was more common after John Locke's treatise)

    1. Annotate Books has added a 1.8-inch ruled margin on every page. The ample space lets you to write your thoughts, expanding your understanding of the text. This edition brings an end to does convoluted, parallel notes, made on minute spaces. Never again fail to understand your brilliant ideas, when you go back and review the text.

      This is what we want to see!! The publishing company Annotate Books is republishing classic texts with a roomier 1.8" ruled margin on every page to make it easier to annotate texts.

      It reminds me about the idea of having print-on-demand interleaved books. Why not have print-on-demand books which have wider than usual margins either with or without lines/grids/dots for easier note taking and marginalia?

      Link to: https://hypothes.is/a/C5WcYFhsEeyLyFeV9leIzw

    1. The network of trails functions as a shared external memory for the ant colony.

      Just as a trail of pheromones serves the function of a shared external memory for an ant colony, annotations can create a set of associative trails which serve as an external memory for a broader human collective memory. Further songlines and other orality based memory methods form a shared, but individually stored internal collective memory for those who use and practice them.

      Vestiges of this human practice can be seen in modern society with the use and spread of cultural memes. People are incredibly good at seeing and recognizing memes and what they communicate and spreading them because they've evolved to function this way since the dawn of humanity.

    1. 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.

    2. A commonplace book is a way to keep our learning priorities in order. It motivates us to look for and keep only the things we can use.
    3. And if you still need a why–I’ll let this quote from Seneca answer it (which I got from my own reading and notes): “We should hunt out the helpful pieces of teaching and the spirited and noble-minded sayings which are capable of immediate practical application–not far far-fetched or archaic expressions or extravagant metaphors and figures of speech–and learn them so well that words become works.”
    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.

  13. Jul 2022
    1. Beatrice Webb, the famous sociologist and political activist, reported in 1926: "'Every one agrees nowadays', observe the most noted French writers on the study of history, 'that it is advisable to collect materials on separate cards or slips of paper. . . . The advantages of this artifice are obvious; the detachability of the slips enables us to group them at will in a host of different combinations; if necessary, to change their places; it is easy to bring texts of the same kind together, and to incorporate additions, as they are acquired, in the interior of the groups to which they belong.'" [6]


      Webb 1926, p. 363. The number of scholars who have used the index card method is legion, especially in sociology and anthropology, but also in many other subjects. Claude Lévy-Strauss learned their use from Marcel Mauss and others, Roland Barthes used them, Charles Sanders Peirce relied on them, and William Van Orman Quine wrote his lectures on them, etc.

    1. with established worldwide fame and prestige, to step in his previous successes to write more-of-the-same books and convert all the attention in cheap money. Just like Robert Kiyosaki did with his 942357 books about “Rich dad”.

      Many artists fall into a creativity trap caused by fame. They spend years developing a great work, but then when it's released, the industry requires they follow it up almost immediately with something even stronger.

      Jewel is an reasonable and perhaps typical example of this phenomenon. She spent several years writing the entirety of her first album Pieces of You (1995), which had three to four solid singles. As it became popular she was rushed to release Spirit (1998), which, while it was ultimately successful, didn't measure up to the first album which had far more incubation time. She wasn't able to build up enough material over time to more easily ride her initial wave of fame. Creativity on demand can be a difficult master, particularly when one is actively touring or supporting their first work while needing to

      (Compare the number of titles she self-wrote on album one vs. album two).

      M. Night Shyamalan is in a similar space, though as a director he preferred to direct scripts that he himself had written. While he'd had several years of writing and many scripts, some were owned by other production companies/studios which forced him to start from scratch several times and both write and direct at the same time, a process which is difficult to do by oneself.

      Another example is Robert Kiyosaki who spun off several similar "Rich Dad" books after the success of his first.

      Compare this with artists who have a note taking or commonplacing practice for maintaining the velocity of their creative output: - Eminem - stacking ammo - Taylor Swift - commonplace practice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  14. Jun 2022
    1. If you want to write a book, you could dial down the scope andwrite a series of online articles outlining your main ideas. If youdon’t have time for that, you could dial it down even further andstart with a social media post explaining the essence of yourmessage.

      This does make me wonder again, how much of this particular book might be found in various forms on Forte's website, much of which is behind a paywall at $10 a month or $100 a year?

      It's become more common in the past decades for writers to turn their blogs into books and then use their platform to sell those books.

    2. Over time, your ability to quickly tap these creative assets andcombine them into something new will make all the difference in yourcareer trajectory, business growth, and even quality of life

      I'm curious how he's going to outline this practice as there's been no discussion of linking or cross-linking ideas prior to this point as is done in some instantiations of the zettelkasten methods. (Of course this interlinking is more valuable when it comes specifically to writing output; once can rely on subject headings and search otherwise.)

    3. Archives: Things I’ve Completed or Put on Hold

      The P.A.R.A. method seems like an admixture of one's projects/to do lists and productivity details and a more traditional commonplace book. Keeping these two somewhat separate mentally may help users with respect to how these folders should be used.

    4. Be regular and orderly in your life so that you may be violent andoriginal in your work.—Gustave Flaubert

      In addition to this as a standalone quote...

      If nothing else, one should keep a commonplace book so that they have a treasure house of nifty quotes to use as chapter openers for the books they might write.

    1. Tiago's book follows the general method of the commonplace book, but relies more heavily on a folder-based method and places far less emphasis and value on having a solid index. There isn't any real focus on linking ideas other than putting some things together in the same folder. His experience with the history of the space in feels like it only goes back to some early Ryan Holiday blog posts. He erroneously credits Luhmann with inventing the zettelkasten and Anne-Laure Le Cunff created digital gardens. He's already retracted these in sketch errata here: https://www.buildingasecondbrain.com/endnotes.

      I'll give him at least some credit that there is some reasonable evidence that he actually used his system to write his own book, but the number and depth of his references and experience is exceptionally shallow given the number of years he's been in the space, particularly professionally. He also has some interesting anecdotes and examples of various people including and array of artists and writers which aren't frequently mentioned in the note taking space, so I'll give him points for some diversity of players as well. I'm mostly left with the feeling that he wrote the book because of the general adage that "thought leaders in their space should have a published book in their area to have credibility". Whether or not one can call him a thought leader for "re-inventing" something that Rudolphus Agricola and Desiderius Erasmus firmly ensconced into Western culture about 500 years ago is debatable.

      Stylistically, I'd call his prose a bit florid and too often self-help-y. The four letter acronyms become a bit much after a while. It wavers dangerously close to those who are prone to the sirens' call of the #ProductivityPorn space.

      If you've read a handful of the big articles in the note taking, tools for thought, digital gardens, zettelkasten space, Ahren's book, or regularly keep up with r/antinet or r/Zettelkasten, chances are that you'll be sorely disappointed and not find much insight. If you have friends that don't need the horsepower of Ahrens or zettelkasten, then it might be a reasonable substitute, but then it could have been half the length for the reader.

    1. For anyone who reads music, the sketchbooks literally record the progress of hisinvention. He would scribble his rough, unformed ideas in his pocket notebook andthen leave them there, unused, in a state of suspension, but at least captured withpencil on paper. A few months later, in a bigger, more permanent notebook, you canfind him picking up that idea again, but he’s not just copying the musical idea intoanother book. You can see him developing it, tormenting it, improving it in the newnotebook. He might take an original three-note motif and push it to its next stage bydropping one of the notes a half tone and doubling it. Then he’d let the idea sit therefor another six months. It would reappear in a third notebook, again not copied butfurther improved, perhaps inverted this time and ready to be used in a piano sonata.

      Beethoven kept a variation of a waste book in that he kept a pocket notebook for quick capture of ideas. Later, instead of copying them over into a permanent place, he'd translate and amplify on the idea in a second notebook. Later on, he might pick up the idea again in a third notebook with further improvements.

      By doing this me might also use the initial ideas as building blocks for more than one individual piece. This is very clever, particularly in musical development where various snippets of music might be morphed into various different forms in ways that written ideas generally can't be so used.

      This literally allowed him to re-use his "notes" at two different levels (the written ones as well as the musical ones.)

    1. It would lack a unique personality or an “alter ego,” which is what Luhmann’s system aimed to create. (9)

      Is there evidence that Luhmann's system aimed to create anything from the start in a sort of autopoietic sense? Or is it (more likely) the case that Luhmann saw this sort of "alter ego" emerging over time and described it after-the-fact?

      Based on his experiences and note takers and zettelkasten users might expect this outcome now.

      Are there examples of prior commonplace book users or note takers seeing or describing this sort of experience in the historical record?

      Related to this is the idea that a reader might have a conversation with another author by reading and writing their own notes from a particular text.

      The only real difference here is that one's notes and the ability to link them to other ideas or topical headings in a commonplace book or zettelkasten means that the reader/writer has an infinitely growable perfect memory.

  15. May 2022
    1. “What does one do with what has been written?” Niklas Luhmann asks: “To be sure,one will initially produce mostly waste. But we have been raised such that we expectsomething useful from our activities or otherwise quickly lose heart. Thus, one shouldconsider whether and how to process the notes so that they are available for later access,or at least provide such a comforting illusion.”

      "To be sure, one will initially produce mostly waste." -Niklas Luhmann

      How true!!! I see many people with this initial problem and not an insignificant few give up entirely because of this.

    1. Songwriters areknown for compiling “hook books” full of lyrics and musical riffs theymay want to use in future songs. Software engineers build “codelibraries” so useful bits of code are easy to access. Lawyers keep“case files” with details from past cases they might want to refer to inthe future. Marketers and advertisers maintain “swipe files” withexamples of compelling ads they might want to draw from

      Nice list of custom names for area specific commonplaces.

    2. digital, we can supercharge these timelessbenefits with the incredible capabilities of technology—searching,sharing, backups, editing, linking, syncing between devices, andmany others

      List of some affordance of digital note taking over handwriting: * search * sharing * backups (copies) * editing * linking (automatic?) * syncing to multiple spaces for ease of use

    3. American journalist, author, and filmmaker Sebastian Junger oncewrote on the subject of “writer’s block”: “It’s not that I’m blocked. It’sthat I don’t have enough research to write with power and knowledgeabout that topic. It always means, not that I can’t find the right words,[but rather] that I don’t have the ammunition.”7

      7 Tim Ferriss, Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers (New York: HarperCollins, 2017), 421.

      relate this to Eminem's "stacking ammo".

    1. The last element in his file system was an index, from which hewould refer to one or two notes that would serve as a kind of entrypoint into a line of thought or topic.

      Indices are certainly an old construct. One of the oldest structured examples in the note taking space is that of John Locke who detailed it in Méthode nouvelle de dresser des recueils (1685), later translated into English as A New Method of Organizing Common Place Books (1706).

      Previously commonplace books had been structured with headwords done alphabetically. This meant starting with a preconceived structure and leaving blank or empty space ahead of time without prior knowledge of what would fill it or how long that might take. By turning that system on its head, one could fill a notebook from front to back with a specific index of the headwords at the end. Then one didn't need to do the same amount of pre-planning or gymnastics over time with respect to where to put their notes.

      This idea combined with that of Konrad Gessner's design for being able to re-arrange slips of paper (which later became index cards based on an idea by Carl Linnaeus), gives us an awful lot of freedom and flexibility in almost any note taking system.

      Building blocks of the note taking system

      • atomic ideas
      • written on (re-arrangeable) slips, cards, or hypertext spaces
      • cross linked with each other
      • cross linked with an index
      • cross linked with references

      are there others? should they be broken up differently?

      Godfathers of Notetaking

      • Aristotle, Cicero (commonplaces)
      • Seneca the Younger (collecting and reusing)
      • Raymond Llull (combinatorial rearrangements)
      • Konrad Gessner (storage for re-arrangeable slips)
      • John Locke (indices)
      • Carl Linnaeus (index cards)
    1. During his college studies, he kept notebooks labeled "The Mind," "Natural Science" (containing a discussion of the atomic theory), "The Scriptures" and "Miscellanies," had a grand plan for a work on natural and mental philosophy, and drew up rules for its composition.[9]
    1. This is all too correct. Sadly the older methods for writing, note taking, thinking, and memory have fallen by the wayside, so most literate moderns don't have the tradition most of (elite educated) Western culture has had for the past 2000+ years. The long tradition of commonplace books and their related versions including waste books, florilegium, sudelbücher, scholia, glossae, notebooks, anthologies, sylvae, table books, vade mecum, memoranda books, diaries, miscellanies, pocket books, thesauruses, etc. underlines your thesis well. The Zettelkasten, exactly like almost all of these others, is simply an iteration of the commonplace book instantiated into index card form. One of the reasons that Umberto Eco's advice on writing seems so similar to the zettelkasten method is that he was a medievalist scholar who was aware of these long traditions of writing, note taking, and memory and leveraged these for himself, though likely in a slightly different manner. Would anyone suggest that he didn't have a voluminous output or an outsized impact on society and culture? If one really wants to go crazy on the idea of backlinks and the ideas of creativity and invention, perhaps they ought to brush up on their Catalan and read some Ramon Llull? He was an 11th century philosopher and polymath who spent a lot of time not only memorizing much of his personal knowledge, but who invented combinatorial creative methods for juxtaposing his volumes of information to actively create new ideas. I guarantee no backlinking system held a match to his associative methods. Now if someone wanted to mix some mysticism into the fray, then perhaps there might be a competition... Many who are now writing so positively about Zettelkasten or backlinks are doing so in much the same way that humanist scholars like Desiderius Erasmus, Rodolphus Agricola, and Philip Melanchthon did when writing about and re-popularizing commonplace books in the 1500s. The primary difference being that the chance that they leave as lasting a legacy is much smaller. Worse many of them are crediting Luhmann for the actual invention of the Zettelkasten when his is but one instantiation on a long evolution of many note taking devices over literal millennia. I'm still waiting for folks to spend more time talking about Carl Linnaeus' revolutionary invention and use of the index card. Or John Locke's system for creating a new indexing system for commonplace books. Generally we don't talk about these innovations because their users spent more of their time using their systems to get other more important things done for their legacies. In the end, the message seems clear, anyone can be incredibly productive; most of it boils down to having some sort of system of reading, thinking, note taking, and new production and sticking with it for a while. Have a system; use your system; evolve it slowly to work well for you and the way you think and work.

  16. Apr 2022
    1. The bookitself participates in the history it recounts: it has a title page, table of contents,footnotes, a bibliography and an index to assist the reader, while the digitalcopy enables the reader to search for individual words and phrases as well asto copy-and-paste without disfiguring a material object.

      Some scholars study annotations as part of material culture. Are they leaving out too much by solely studying those physically left in the books about which they were made, or should we instead also be looking at other sources like commonplace books, notebooks, note cards, digital spaces like e-readers that allow annotation, social media where texts are discussed, or even digital marginalia in services like Hypothes.is or Perusall?

      Some of these forms of annotation allow a digital version of cut and paste which doesn't cause damage to the original text, which should be thought of as a good thing though it may separate the annotations from the original physical object.

    1. 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?

    1. Francis Bacon explained succinctlythat notes could be made either “by epitome or abridgement” (that is, by sum-marizing the source) or “by heads or commonplaces” (that is, by copying a pas-sage verbatim or nearly so and storing it in a notebook under a commonplaceheading for later retrieval and use). Bacon considered the latter method “of farmore profit and use,” and most note-taking advice focused on this practice of ex-cerpting.46

      This quote is worth looking up and checking its context. Particularly I'm interested to know if the purpose of summarizing the source is to check one's understanding of the ideas as is done in the Feynman technique, or if the purpose is a reminder summary of the piece itself?

      Link to Ahrens mentions of this technique for checking understanding. (Did he use the phrase Feynman in his text?)

    2. One of his last works, the Aurifodina, “The Mine of All Arts and Sci-ences, or the Habit of Excerpting,” was printed in 1638 (in 2,000 copies) andin another fourteen editions down to 1695 and spawned abridgments in Latin(1658), German (1684), and English.

      Simply the word abridgement here leads me to wonder:

      Was the continual abridgement of texts and excerpting small pieces for later use the partial cause of the loss of the arts of memory? Ars excerpendi ad infinitum? It's possible that this, with the growth of note taking practices, continual information overload, and other pressures for educational reform swamped the prior practices.

      For evidence, take a look at William Engel's work following the arts of memory in England and Europe to see if we can track the slow demise by attrition of the descriptions and practices. What would such a study show? How might we assign values to the various pressures at play? Which was the most responsible?

      Could it have also been the slow, inexorable death of many of these classical means of taking notes as well? How did we loose the practices of excerpting for creating new ideas? Where did the commonplace books go? Where did the zettelkasten disappear to?

      One author, with a carefully honed practice and the extant context of their life writes some brief notes which get passed along to their students or which are put into a new book that misses a lot of their existing context with respect to the new readers. These readers then don't know about the attrition happening and slowly, but surely the knowledge goes missing amidst a wash of information overload. Over time the ideas and practices slowly erode and are replaced with newer techniques which may not have been well tested or stood the test of time. One day the world wakes up and the common practices are no longer of use.

      This is potentially all the more likely because of the extremely basic ideas underpinning some of memory and note taking. They seem like such basic knowledge we're also prone to take them for granted and not teach them as thoroughly as we ought.

      How does one juxtapose this with the idea of humanist scholars excerpting, copying, and using classical texts with a specific eye toward preventing the loss of these very classical texts?

      Is this potentially the idea of having one's eye on a particular target and losing sight of other creeping effects?

      It's also difficult to remember what it was like when we ourselves didn't know something and once that is lost, it can be harder and harder to teach newcomers.

    3. An eighteenth- century manual of bookkeeping listed three stages ofrecords a merchant should keep: waste book, journal (arranged in systematicorder), and ledger (featuring an index to access all people, places, and merchan-dise)
    4. Early modern scholars referred most often to merchants as exemplars for theirhabit of keeping two notebooks: a daybook (or journal) to record transactionsin the order in which they occurred and a ledger in which these transactionswere sorted into categories, as in double- entry bookkeeping
    5. During the same period zibaldone designated notebooks kept bywriters, artists, and merchants to record a wide variety of information: outgoingletters, copies of documents, indexes to books, lists of paintings, and excerptscopied from all kinds of texts, including poetry, prose, merchants’ manuals, legalsources, and tables of weights and measures.27
    6. Italian merchants of the fourteenth and fifteenthcenturies are known for keeping ricordanze that combined personal and practicalinformation.

      Compare this with the waste book tradition in accounting.

    7. But modern note-taking is more idiosyncratic to each note-taker and no longer follows a set of subject headings that pedagogical practicesand printed reference works helped to standardize.

      Early modern reference works, handbooks, and pedagogical practices created a sort of standardized set of subject headings amongst note takers.

      A similar sort of effort could have been seen in the blogosphere of the early 2000s in which Technorati and their search functionality may have helped to standardize some of these same sorts of taxonomic issues within their product which was widely used at the time.

    8. Referencebooks also typically offered a larger collection of excerpts than most individualscould amass in a lifetime.

      This makes me wonder if it would be a useful product to have a highly linked note collection to sell to others in a modern context? It could be done entirely in text files for compatibility with Roam Research, Obsidian, Logseq, et al. Ideally it would be done in a more commonplace way with quotes and interlinked and could be expanded upon by the purchaser.

    9. Conrad Gesner, for example, observed in his editionof Stobaeus: “I ask you, who of the learned doesn’t either take commonplacenotes or wish they did from their daily reading on moral matters?”1
  17. Mar 2022
    1. nicholas lerman is a sample of one 01:09:54 and if the zerocarton is a tool for thinking there are all these other thinkers out there who are thinking um and do we know how they're thinking how their 01:10:07 how you know what note systems are they using i'd like to i'd like to be able to place lerman yeah amongst all these others and and sort of in the zerocast and 01:10:23 see what others are doing as well and yeah i mean if there was one project i would have loved to do is going around 01:10:36 asking everyone i whose work i admire how do you do it how do you do it exactly what do you do in the morning how do you sit down how do you digest the books you're reading 01:10:48 um i was obsessed with the idea and it's just because i'm too shy to follow up on that

      Some discussion of doing research on zettelkasten methods and workflows.

      What do note taking methods and processes look like for individual people?

      What questions would one ask for this sort of research in an interview setting (compared to how one would look at extant physical examples in document-based research)? #openquestions

      Link this to the work of Earle Havens on commonplace books through portions of history.

    1. They get harder to read the longer I wait to transcribe them.

      He's using his Field Notes notebooks as waste books and transcribing the important pieces into other places as necessary.

      He also indicates that he's taking brief, reminder notes (or fleeting notes) contemporaneously and then expanding upon them later as necessary.

  18. Feb 2022
    1. a system is neededto keep track of the ever-increasing pool of information, which allowsone to combine different ideas in an intelligent way with the aim ofgenerating new ideas.

      The point of good tools of thought is to allow one to keep track of the ever increasing flood of information that also allows them to juxtapose or combine ideas in novel and interesting ways. Further, this should provide them with a means of generating and then improving upon their new ideas.

  19. Jan 2022
    1. Definition of adversaria 1 : commentaries or notes (as on a text or document) 2 : a miscellaneous collection of notes, remarks, or selections : commonplace book
    1. Scholars well grounded in this regime, like Isaac Casaubon, spun tough, efficient webs of notes around the texts of their books and in their notebooks—hundreds of Casaubon’s books survive—and used them to retrieve information about everything from the religion of Greek tragedy to Jewish burial practices.

      What was the form of his system? From where did he learn it? What does it show about the state of the art for his time?

    2. Manuals such as Jeremias Drexel’s “Goldmine”—the frontispiece of which showed a scholar taking notes opposite miners digging for literal gold—taught students how to condense and arrange the contents of literature by headings.

      Likely from Aurifondina artium et scientiarum omnium excerpendi solerti, omnibus litterarum amantibus monstrata. worldcat

      h/t: https://hyp.is/tz3lBmznEeyvEmOX-B5DxQ/infocult.typepad.com/infocult/2007/11/future-reading-.html

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

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

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

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

    1. “I could fit this in my pocket,” I thought when the first newly re-designed @parisreview arrived. And sure enough editor Emily Stokes said it’s was made to fit in a “large coat pocket” in the editor’s note.

      I've been thinking it for a while, but have needed to write it down for ages---particularly from my experiences with older manuscripts.

      In an age of print-on-demand and reflowing text, why in goodness' name don't we have the ability to print almost anything we buy and are going to read in any font size and format we like?

      Why couldn't I have a presentation copy sized version of The Paris Review?

      Why shouldn't I be able to have everything printed on bible-thin pages of paper for savings in thickness?

      Why couldn't my textbooks be printed with massively large margins for writing notes into more easily? Why not interleaved with blank pages even? Particularly near the homework problem sections?

      Why can't I have more choice in a range of fonts, book sizes, margin sizes, and covers?

    1. From 1676 onward, he follows an excerpting practice that directly refers to Jungius (via one of his students). Regarding Leibniz ’ s Excerpt Cabinet He wrote on slips of paper whatever occurred to him — in part when perusing books, in part during meditation or travel or out on walks — yet he did not let the paper slips (particularly the excerpts) cover each other in a mess; it was his habit to sort through them every now and then.

      According to one of his students, Leibniz used his note cabinet both for excerpts that he took from his reading as well as notes an ideas he came up separately from his reading.

      Most of the commonplace book tradition consisted of excerpting, but when did note taking practice begin to aggregate de novo notes with commonplaces?

  21. aworkinglibrary.com aworkinglibrary.com
    1. I began this site in 2008 in an effort to bring some structure to a long held habit: taking notes about the books I read in a seemingly endless number of notebooks, which then piled up, never to be opened again. I thought a website would make that habit more fruitful and fun, serving as a reference, something the notebooks never did. It did that handily, and more, including making space for me to write and think about adjacent things. More than a dozen years later and this site has become the place where I think, often but not exclusively about books—but then books are a means of listening to the thoughts of others so that you can hear your own thoughts more clearly. Contributions have waxed and waned over the years as life got busy, but I never stopped reading, and I always come back.

      Several things to notice here:

      • learning in public
      • posting knowledge on a personal website as a means of sharing that knowledge with a broader public
      • specifically not hiding the work of reading in notebooks which are unlikely to be read by others.
  22. Nov 2021
    1. Though firmly rooted in Renaissance culture, Knight's carefully calibrated arguments also push forward to the digital present—engaging with the modern library archives where these works were rebound and remade, and showing how the custodianship of literary artifacts shapes our canons, chronologies, and contemporary interpretative practices.

      This passage reminds me of a conversation on 2021-11-16 at Liquid Margins with Will T. Monroe (@willtmonroe) about using Sönke Ahrens' book Smart Notes and Hypothes.is as a structure for getting groups of people (compared to Ahrens' focus on a single person) to do collection, curation, and creation of open education resources (OER).

      Here Jeffrey Todd Knight sounds like he's looking at it from the perspective of one (or maybe two) creators in conjunction (curator and binder/publisher) while I'm thinking about expanding behond

      This sort of pattern can also be seen in Mortimer J. Adler's group zettelkasten used to create The Great Books of the Western World series as well in larger wiki-based efforts like Wikipedia, so it's not new, but the question is how a teacher (or other leader) can help to better organize a community of creators around making larger works from smaller pieces. Robin DeRosa's example of using OER in the classroom is another example, but there, the process sounded much more difficult and manual.

      This is the sort of piece that Vannevar Bush completely missed as a mode of creation and research in his conceptualization of the Memex. Perhaps we need the "Inventiex" as a mode of larger group means of "inventio" using these methods in a digital setting?

    2. By examining works by Shakespeare, Spenser, Montaigne, and others, he dispels the notion of literary texts as static or closed, and instead demonstrates how the unsettled conventions of early print culture fostered an idea of books as interactive and malleable.

      Jeffrey Todd Knight in Bound to read: Compilations, Collections, and the Making of Renaissance Literature examines the works of various writers to dispel the notion of literary texts as static. He shows how the evolution of early print culture helped to foster the idea as interactive and malleable. This at a time when note takers and writers would have been using commonplacing techniques at even smaller scales for creating their own writing thus creating a similar pattern from the smaller scale to the larger scale.

      This pattern of small notes building into larger items with rearrangement which is seen in Carl Linnaeus' index card-based notes as well as his longer articles/writings and publication record over time as well.

    3. In Bound to Read, Jeffrey Todd Knight excavates this culture of compilation—of binding and mixing texts, authors, and genres into single volumes—and sheds light on a practice that not only was pervasive but also defined the period's very ways of writing and thinking.
    4. In this early period of print, before the introduction of commercial binding, most published literary texts did not stand on shelves in discrete, standardized units. They were issued in loose sheets or temporarily stitched—leaving it to the purchaser or retailer to collect, configure, and bind them.

      In the early history of printing, books weren't as we see them now, instead they were issued in loose sheets or with temporary stitching allowing the purchaser or retailer to collect, organize, and bind them. This pattern occurs at a time when one would have been thinking about collecting, writing, and organizing one's notes in a commonplace book or other forms. It is likely a pattern that would have influenced this era of note taking practices, especially among the most literate who were purchasing and using books.

    1. Reporter John Dickerson talking about his notebook.

      While he doesn't mention it, he's capturing the spirit of the commonplace book and the zettelkasten.

      [...] I see my job as basically helping people see and to grab ahold of what's going on.

      You can decide to do that the minute you sit down to start writing or you can just do it all the time. And by the time you get to writing you have a notebook full of stuff that can be used.

      And it's not just about the thing you're writing about at that moment or the question you're going to ask that has to do with that week's event on Face the Nation on Sunday.

      If you've been collecting all week long and wondering why a thing happens or making an observation about something and using that as a piece of color to explain the political process to somebody, then you've been doing your work before you ever sat down to do your work.

      <div style="padding:56.25% 0 0 0;position:relative;"><iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/169725470?h=778a09c06f&title=0&byline=0&portrait=0" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; fullscreen; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe></div><script src="https://player.vimeo.com/api/player.js"></script>

      Field Notes: Reporter's Notebook from Coudal Partners on Vimeo.

    1. Fromthe sixteenth century we have printed school texts abundantly annotated inthe margins and on interleaved pages with commentary that was likely dic-tated in the classroom and copied over neatly after the fact in the printedbook (fig. 3).
    2. Mary Poovey,A History of the Modern Fact: Problems of Knowledge in the Sciences ofWealth and Society(Chicago, 1998).

      Most recently, the emergence of the fact has been attributed to methods of commercial recordkeeping (and double-entry bookkeeping in particular).

      Reference to read/look into with respect to accounting and note taking.

    3. Ciceroalready contrasted the short-lived memoranda of the merchant with the more carefully kept accountbook designed as a permanent record; see Cicero, “Pro Quinto Roscio comoedo oratio,”TheSpeeches,trans. John Henry Freese (Cambridge, Mass., 1930), 2.7, pp. 278–81.
    4. Y trancis pacon compared one of hisnotebooks to a merchant’s wastebooki see prian ̈ickersW introduction to trancis paconW yrancisuaconX edY ̈ickers SfixfordW ]ggdTW pY xli

      Francis Bacon compared one of his notebooks to a merchant's wastebook.

    5. was common among early modern authorsW and the notion of the merXchant as a model to imitate persisted through changes to new techniquesY

      References to the merchant’s two notebooks as a model for student note taking was common among early modern authors, and the notion of the merchant as a model to imitate persisted through changes to new techniques.

    6. acon favored the latter as “of far more profitW and use” Squotedin “tpW” pY ae‘TY

      Francis Bacon preferred commonplaces (quotes under topical headings) to adversaria (summaries) as they were "of far more profit, and use".

      Note that other references equate these two types of notes: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/adversaria

    7. trancis pacon outlined the two principal methods ofnote taking in a letter of advice to tulke urevilleW who was seeking to hireone or more research assistants in qambridge around ]cggh “ve that shallout of his own ”eading gather [notes] for the use of anotherW must Sas wthinkT do it by spitomeW or obridgmentW or under veads and qommonfllacesY spitomes may also be of ‘ sortsh of any one ortW or part of ynowledgeout of many pooksi or of one pook by itselfY”

      Quoted in Vernon F Snow “Ftrancis Bacon's Advice to Fulke Greville on Research Techniques," Huntington Library Quarterly 23, no.4 (1960): 370.

  23. Oct 2021
    1. Weirdly, in the master of fine arts classes I’ve taught so far, there’s never been a single class on how to store and access your research.

      The fact that there generally aren't courses in high school or college about how to better store and access one's research is a travesty. I feel like there are study skills classes, but they seem to be geared toward strategies and not implemented solutions.

  24. Sep 2021
    1. I think it’s valuable to add some initial thinking and reflection when I bookmark an article or finish reading a book, but haven’t yet figured out a process for revisiting recent notes to find connections and turn that into longer or more complex thought.

      This is definitely the harder part of the practice, but daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual reviews can definitely help.

      To start I primarily focused on 3-5 broader sub-topics of things I felt were most important to me and always did those first. This helps to begin aggregating things and making a bigger difference. The rest of my smaller "fleeting" notes I didn't worry so much about and left to either come back to later or just allow them to sit there.

      I think Sonke Ahrens' book How to Take Smart Notes was fairly helpful in laying this out.

      Incidentally the spaced repetition of review is also good for your memory of the things you find important.

    1. I love this outline/syllabus for creating a commonplace book (as a potential replacement for a term paper).

      I'd be curious to see those who are using Hypothes.is as a communal reading tool in coursework utilize this outline (or similar ones) in combination with their annotation practices.

      Curating one's annotations and placing them into a commonplace book or zettelkasten would be a fantastic rhetorical exercise to extend the value of one's notes and ideas.

    1. In this episode I discuss my experience with the niche and extremely powerful note-taking system known as the Zettelkasten.

      The word "niche" here provides a window into how much of our cultural history we've really lost.

  25. Aug 2021
    1. there are very few medieval scenes in which someone is reading but not writing—where books are present but pens are not. In part, this has to do with medieval study practices. Readers would usually have a pen nearby even when they were just reading. After all, remarks and critiques needed to be added to the margin at the spur of the moment. “Penless” images, while rare, often show a crowded desktop.

      Images of Medieval reading practices generally pictured pens along with books. In the rare cases where pens were not included, the desks pictured were messy and thus covered up the pens involved.

    1. Media and the Mind: Art, Science and Notebooks as Paper Machines, 1700-1830 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2022), 550 pp + 60 figures.

      I can't wait to read Media and the Mind: Art, Science and Notebooks as Paper Machines, 1700-1830 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2022)!

      I see some bits on annotation hiding in here that may be of interest to @RemiKalir and @anterobot.

      If you need some additional eyeballs on it prior to publication, I'm happy to mark it up in exchange for the early look.

    1. https://kimberlyhirsh.com/2019/04/01/dissertating-in-the.html

      A description of some of Kimiberly Hirsh's workflow in keeping a public research notebook (or commonplace book).

      I'd be curious to know what type of readership and response she's gotten from this work in the past. For some it'll bet it's possibly too niche for a lot of direct feedback, but some pieces may be more interesting than others.

      Did it help her organize her thoughts and reuse the material later on?

    1. The first step in translating experience, either of other men's writing, or of your own life, into the intellectual sphere, is to give it form. Merely to name an item of experience often invites you to explain it; the mere taking of a note from a book is often a prod to reflection. At the same time, of course, the taking of a note is a great aid in comprehending what you are reading.

      on the purpose of taking notes, annotating one's reading, or commonplacing

      highlight is a quote from

      C. Wright Mills' profound "Appendix: On Intellectual Craftsmanship," as found in his book on The Sociological Imagination.