101 Matching Annotations
  1. Last 7 days
    1. This also means that one cannot think without making allowances for differences.

      9/8g The card index technique is based on the experience that one cannot think without writing – at least not in demanding, selectively accessing memory-based contexts.

      This also means that one cannot think without making allowances for differences.

      I like this slightly more differentiated instantiation for thinking better than Ahren's assertion that one can't think without writing. Luhmann qualifies it over and above Ahrens who elides meaning if this was the source he may have been tangentially referencing. (Was it an explicit reference? check...)

  2. May 2024
    1. In adults, taking notes by hand during a lecture, instead of typing, can lead to better conceptual understanding of material.

      This is because of the fact that one needs to think (process) before writing. One can't possibly write everything verbatim. Deep processing. Relational thinking.

  3. Apr 2024
  4. Jan 2024
  5. Dec 2023
    1. “I do all my own research,” she said, “though reviewers have speculatedthat I must have a band of hirelings. I like to be led by a footnote ontosomething I never thought of. I rarely photocopy research materials because, for me, note-taking is learning, distilling. That’s the whole essence ofthe business. In taking notes, you have to discard what you don’t need. If you[photocopy] it, you haven’t chewed it.”

      Sounds similar to Umberto Eco's admonition about photocopying: https://hypothes.is/a/U3Sg_r0ZEe25T2tD3U-nmw

    1. Summary

      1. 📚 Second Edition Overview: This is the second, revised and expanded edition of the book. The first edition was titled "Como Fazer Anotações Inteligentes. Uma Técnica Simples para Impulsionar a Escrita, Aprendizado e Pensamento - para Estudantes, Acadêmicos e Escritores de Livros de Não Ficção".

      2. 🖋️ Key Focus: The book emphasizes the importance of organizing ideas and notes for effective writing. It's a guide for students, academics, and knowledge professionals to enhance their writing, learning, and long-term knowledge retention.

      3. 🧠 Smart Notes Methodology: It introduces the concept of Smart Notes, based on psychological insights and the proven Zettelkasten note-taking technique, offering a comprehensive guide in English for the first time.

      4. 🎯 Target Audience: The book is particularly useful for students and academics in social sciences and humanities, non-fiction writers, and anyone engaged in reading, thinking, and writing.

      5. Time Efficiency: Focuses on saving time spent searching for notes, quotes, or references, allowing more time for thinking, understanding, and developing new ideas in writing.

      6. 👤 Author's Background: Written by Dr. Sönke Ahrens, a writer and researcher in education and social sciences, known for the award-winning book "Experimento e Exploração: Formas de Revelação do Mundo" (Springer).

      7. 🌍 Global Reach: Since its initial release, "Como Fazer Anotações Inteligentes" has sold over 10,000 copies and has been translated into seven languages.

  6. Oct 2023
    1. You have not graspeda complex unity if all you know about it is how it is one. Youmust also know how it is many, not a many that consists of alot of separate things, but an organized many. If the partswere not organically related, the whole that they composedwould not be one. Strictly speaking, there would be no wholeat all but merely a collection.

      This is also an art of putting notes together to make an article or book.

  7. Sep 2023
    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?

  8. May 2023
    1. 4/20/52[Keime.] Murder by mental nagging. Woman nags her husband to suicide, which he does so it looks like he has been murdered. Poison, which he puts in her desk drawer, her fingerprints on it.

      Jillian Hess noted that Patricia Highsmith uses the German word Keime, meaning "germ of an idea" in her cahiers to indicate ideas which might be used in her novels or short stories.

    2. I highly recommend notebooks for writers, a small one if one has to be out on a job all day, a larger one if one has the luxury of staying at home.

      from Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction

    1. The bee plunders the flowers here and there, but afterwards they make of them honey, which is all theirs; it is no longer thyme or marjoram. Even so with the pieces borrowed from others; he will transform and blend them to make a work that is all his own, to wit, his judgment — The Complete Essays of Michel de Montaigne

      Cross reference with Seneca's note taking metaphors with apes.

  9. Apr 2023
    1. Roy Peter Clark, writing scholar and coach at The Poynter Institute, says, “Reports give readers information. Stories give readers experience.” I would add: An article is generic; a story is unique.

      There's something interesting lurking here on note taking practice as well.

      Generic notes for learning may rephrase or summarize an idea int one's own words and are equivalent to basic information or articles as framed by Clark/Keiger. But in building towards something, that goes beyond the basic, one should strive in their notes to elicit experience and generate insight; take the facts and analyze them, create something new, interesting, and unique.

    1. does my zettelkasten make writing... harder?

      Worried about self-plagiarizing in the future? Others like Hans Blumenberg have struck through used cards with red pencil. This could also be done with metadata or other searchable means in the digital realm as well. (See: https://hypothes.is/a/mT8Twk2cEe2bvj8lq2Lgpw)

      General problems she faces: 1. Notetaking vs. writing voice (shifting between one and another and not just copy/pasting) 2. discovery during writing (put new ideas into ZK as you go or just keep writing on the page when the muse strikes) 3. Linearity of output: books are linear and ZK is not

      Using transclusion may help in the initial draft/zero draft?<br /> ie: ![[example]] (This was mentioned in the comments as well.)

      directional vs. indirectional notes - see Sascha Fast's article


      Borrowing from the telecom/cable industry, one might call this the zettelkasten "last mile problem". I've also referred to it in the past as the zettelkasten output problem. (See also the description and comments at https://boffosocko.com/2022/07/12/call-for-model-examples-of-zettelkasten-output-processes/ as well as some of the examples linked at https://boffosocko.com/research/zettelkasten-commonplace-books-and-note-taking-collection/)

      Many journal articles that review books (written in English) in the last half of the 20th century which include the word zettelkasten have a negative connotation with respect to ZK and frequently mention the problem that researchers/book writers have of "tipping out their ZKs" without the outlining and argument building/editing work to make their texts more comprehensible or understandable.

      Ward Cunningham has spoken in the past about the idea of a Markov Monkey who can traverse one's atomic notes in a variety of paths (like a Choose Your Own Adventure, but the monkey knows all the potential paths). The thesis in some sense is the author choosing a potential "best" path (a form of "travelling salesperson problem), for a specific audience, who presumably may have some context of the general area.

      Many mention Sonke Ahrens' book, but fail to notice Umberto Eco's How to Write a Thesis (MIT, 2015) and Gerald Weinberg's "The Fieldstone Method (Dorset House, 2005) which touch a bit on these composition problems.

      I'm not exactly sure of the particulars and perhaps there isn't enough historical data to prove one direction or another, but Wittgenstein left behind a zettelkasten which his intellectual heirs published as a book. In it they posit (in the introduction) that rather than it being a notetaking store which he used to compose longer works, that the seeming similarities between the ideas in his zettelkasten and some of his typescripts were the result of him taking his typescripts and cutting them up to put into his zettelkasten. It may be difficult to know which direction was which, but my working hypothesis is that the only way it could have been ideas from typescripts into his zettelkasten would have been if he was a "pantser", to use your terminology, and he was chopping up ideas from his discovery writing to place into contexts within his zettelkasten for later use. Perhaps access to the original physical materials may be helpful in determining which way he was moving. Cross reference: https://hypothes.is/a/BptoKsRPEe2zuW8MRUY1hw

      Some helpful examples: - academia : Victor Margolin - fiction/screenwriting: - Dustin Lance Black - Vladimir Nabokov - others...

  10. Mar 2023
    1. I found the format of these Hypothes.is notes to be much more readable than the notes on the same topic in Evernote.

      https://forum.zettelkasten.de/discussion/comment/17617#Comment_17617

      There is definitely something here from a usability (and reusability) perspective when notes are broken down into smaller pieces the way that is encouraged by Hypothes.is or by writing on index cards.

      Compare: - ://www.evernote.com/shard/s170/sh/d69cf793-1f14-48f4-bd48-43f41bd88678/DapavVTQh954eMRGKOVeEPHm7FxEqxBKvaKLfKWaSV1yuOmjREsMkSHvmQ - https://via.hypothes.is/https://www.otherlife.co/pkm/

      The first may be most useful for a note taker who is personally trying to make sense of material, but it becomes a massive wall of text that one is unlikely to re-read or attempt to reuse at a later date. If they do attempt to reuse it at a later date, it's not clear which parts are excerpts of the original and which are the author's own words. (This page also looks like it's the sort of notes, highlighting, and underlining recommended by Tiago Forte's Building a Second Brain text using progressive summarization.)

      The second set, are more concrete, more atomic, more understandable, and also as a result much more usable.

  11. Feb 2023
    1. Of course the metaphor of the bees and their honey is the biggest which we've all failed to mention! It's my favorite because of its age, its location within the tradition of rhetoric and sententiae/ars excerpendi, its prolific use through history, and the way it frames collecting and arranging for the use of creativity and writing.

      In the his classic on rhetoric, Seneca gave an account of his ideas about note-taking in the 84th letter to Luculius ("On Gathering Ideas"). It begins from ut aiunt: "men say", that we should imitate the bees in our reading practice. For as they produce honey from the flowers they visit and then "assort in their cells all that they have brought in", so we should, "sift (separate) whatever we have gathered from a varied course of reading" because things keep better in isolation from one another, an idea which dovetails with ars memoria, the 4th canon of rhetoric.

      "We should follow, men say, the example of the bees, who flit about and cull the flowers that are suitable for producing honey, and then arrange and assort in their cells all that they have brought in; these bees, as our Vergil says: 'pack close the flowering honey And swell their cells with nectar sweet.' "

      Generations later in ~430 CE, Macrobius in his Saturnalia repeated the same idea (he assuredly read Seneca, though he obviously didn't acknowledge him):

      "You should not count it a fault if I shall set out the borrowings from a miscellaneous reading in the authors' own words... sometimes set out plainly in my own words and sometimes faithfully recorded in the actual words of the old writers... We ought in some sort to imitate bees; and just as they, in their wandering to and fro, sip the flowers, then arrange their spoil and distribute it among the honeycombs, and transform the various juices to a single flavor by some mixing with them a property of their own being, so I too shall put into writing all that I have acquired in the varied course of my reading... For not only does arrangement help the memory, but the actual process of arrangement, accompanied by a kind of mental fermentation which serves to season the whole, blends the diverse extracts to make a single flavor; with the result that, even if the sources are evident, what we get in the end is still something clearly different from those known sources."

      Often in manuscripts writers in the middle ages to the Renaissance would draw bees or write 'apes' (Latin for bees) in the margins of their books almost as bookmarks for things they wished to remember or excerpt for their own notes.

      Of course, neither of these classical writers mentions the added benefit that the bees were simultaneously helping to pollenate the flowers, which also enhances the ecosystem.

      • Seneca (2006) Epistles 66-92. With an English translation by Richard G. Gummere. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press (Loeb Classical Library), 277-285.
      • Havens, Earle. Commonplace Books: A History of Manuscripts and Printed Books from Antiquity to the Twentieth Century. New Haven, CT: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, 2001.
    1. To cover my knowledge management process would distract you from what works for you. Your question needs more context to be actionable.TL;DR; Whichever knowledge management system gets you paid.I've got 13 notes with the term "knowledge management," 15 with "information gathering," and 7 with "strategic intelligence." Without finishing a MOC, here's off the top of my head:Have a purpose or reason for learning.Ask helpful questions that solve problems.Answer questions as stand-alone notes.Learn from primary sources. Even boring ones.Take notes for your intended audience.Serve a specific audience (get paid.)Write about what people care about.Become a subject matter expert in target areas.Deliver what you know as a service first.Build on your strengths. Knowledge is cheap.It's not a process. More like tips. If demand exists, I'll write a book on the topic in a few years. Might be a good podcast topic.“No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.” -- Samuel Johnson, The Life of Samuel JohnsonRemember, there is no shortage of knowledge. Managing information is like masturbation; it feels good but doesn't do much. Focus on making information drive goal achievement.

      Some useful and solid advice here.

    1. He understood that the writing of a thesis forcedmany students outside of their cultural comfort zone, andthat if the shock was too sudden or strong, they would giveup.

      The writing of a thesis is a shock to many specifically because information overload has not only gotten worse, but because the underlying historical method of doing so has either been removed from the educational equation or so heavily watered down that students don't think to use it.

      When I think and write about "note taking" I'm doing it in a subtly different way and method than how it seems to be used in common parlance. Most seem to use it solely for information extraction and as a memory crutch which they may or may not revisit to memorize or use and then throw away. I do it for some of these reasons, but my practice goes far beyond this for generating new ideas, mixing up ideas creatively, and for writing. Note reuse seems to be the thing missing from the equation. It also coincidentally was the reason I quit taking notes in college.

    1. https://www.edwinwenink.xyz/posts/59-writing_not_collecting/

    2. recording something does not prevent you from losing it. You lose it when you don’t actively use it.
    3. This points to perhaps the most dangerous pitfall of note-taking. It’s very tempting to convince yourself you are learning just because you are writing down - in the sense of passively recording - what someone else says or writes.
  12. Jan 2023
    1. Avoid both very long andvery short paragraphs: the length should usually vary from150 to 860 words. Attend carefully to the unity and correctstructure of the paragraph.

      His description of paragraphs from 150 to 350 words is interesting with respect to the amount of material that will fit on a 3x5" inch card during the note taking process.

    1. It’s far more complicated than that, obviously. Different parts of this process are going on all the time. While working on one chapter, I’m also capturing and working on unrelated—for the time being at least—notes on other topics that interest me, including stuff that might well end up in future books.

      Because reading, annotating/note taking, and occasional outlining and writing can be broken down into small, concrete building blocks, each part of the process can be done separately and discretely with relatively easy ability to shift from one part of the process to another.

      Importantly, one can be working on multiple different high level projects (content production: writing, audio, video, etc.) simultaneously in a way which doesn't break the flow of one's immediate reading. While a particular note within a piece may not come to fruition within a current imagined project, it may spark an idea for a future as yet unimagined project.


      Aside: It would seem that Ryan Holiday's descriptions of his process are discrete with respect to each individual project. He's never mentioned using or reusing notes from past projects for current or future projects. He's even gone to the level that he creates custom note cards for his current project which have a title pre-printed on them.

      Does this pre-titling help to provide him with more singular focus for his specific workflow? Some who may be prone to being side-tracked or with specific ADHD issues may need or be helped by these visual and workflow cues to stay on task, and as a result be helped by them. For others it may hinder their workflows and creativity.

      This process may be different for beginning students or single project writers versus career writers (academics, journalists, fiction and non-fiction writers).


      As a concrete example of the above, I personally made a note here about Darwin and Lamarck for a separate interest in evolution which falls outside of my immediate area of interest with respect to note taking and writing output.

    2. The above is an attempt to describe how I went about writing one chapter of my book. I use the same basic approach for all my chapters, namely: make lots of linked notes about stuff I happen to find interesting;continue to develop those notes, splitting them into smaller notes when they become too wide-ranging;write Journal entries and draw mind-maps to explore what I’ve discovered;keep playing with my notes;await a lightbulb moment, when two or more notes suddenly make an unexpected new connection in my brain, and I think, “Oh, that’s interesting!”create a detailed bullet-point outline of my chapter, complete with links to supporting notes and references;write the chapter;compile the chapter references with the help of the chapter outline links;repeat until the first draft of the book is finished;then comes the fun part.

      Summary of Richard Carter's writing process from notes to product.

    3. All that remained was the small matter of actually writing the chapter. I don’t do this in Obsidian: I think it would be asking for trouble to mix notes and their end-products in the same place.

      I've not seen this explicitly laid out as advice before though in most contexts people's note taking spaces have historically been divorced from their writing spaces for publication because slips and notes are usually kept physically separate from the working spaces or finished parts, but Richard Carter specifically separates the digital spaces in which he takes his notes and then uses them for creating end products. While he could both take notes in Obsidian, his tool of choice for notes, as well as write his finished pieces there, he actively changes contexts to use a different digital app to compose his notes into final pieces.

      What affordances does this context shift provide? <br /> - blank slate may encourage reworking and expansion of original notes - is there a blank slate effect and what would it entail? - potentially moves the piece into a longer format space or tool which provides additional writing, formatting or other affordances (which? there don't seem to be any in this case aside from a potential "distraction free mode" which may tend to force one to focus only on the piece at hand rather than the thousands of other pieces (notes) hiding within the app)

      What affordances does this remove?<br /> - He's forced to repeat himself (cut & paste / DRY violation)

      Is it easier or harder (from a time/effort perspective) to provide citations with such a workflow? Carter does indicate that for him:

      Having links to original sources in my outline makes the compilation of references for the chapter far easier than it used to be.

    1. Tobeuseful,thenotestakenatmedicallecturesshouldbeasummaryonly;noattempt shouldbemadetotakeaverbatimreport

      Verbatim notes are not the goal.

      The idea of note taking as a means of sensemaking and understanding is underlined in an 1892 article in a shorthand magazine whose general purpose was to encourage shorthand and increasing one's writing speed, often to create verbatim records:

      To be useful, the notes taken at medical lectures should be a summary only; no attempt should be made to take a verbatim report.

    2. This independent confirmation ofthe testimonythat Dr Gowers has personally borne to the helpfulness ofPhonography in his professional career, is peculiarlyvaluable, because there are still some able men in themedical world who discourage the practice of note- takingby students . Professor Struthers, for instance, is reportedto have said before the General Medical Council that" the student takes his notes, puts his book in his pocket,and walks out, knowing no more about the subject than amere reporter would do."

      There's an interesting parallel between this example and that of the character of Socrates in Plato with respect to writing and memory.

      Some take notes to increase understanding, while others might suggest that note taking decreases understanding. The answer to remedying the discrepancy is in using the proper process.

  13. Dec 2022
    1. Is the ZK method worth it? and how it helped you in your projects? .t3_zwgeas._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; } questionI am new to ZK method and I'd like to use it for my literature review paper. Altho the method is described as simple, watching all those YT videos about the ZK and softwares make it very complex to me. I want to know how it changed your writing??

      reply to u/Subject_Industry1633 at https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/zwgeas/is_the_zk_method_worth_it_and_how_it_helped_you/ (and further down)

      ZK is an excellent tool for literature reviews! It is a relative neologism (with a slightly shifted meaning in English over the past decade with respect to its prior historical use in German) for a specific form of note taking or commonplacing that has generally existed in academia for centuries. Excellent descriptions of it can be found littered around, though not under a specific easily searchable key word or phrase, though perhaps phrases like "historical method" or "wissenschaftlichen arbeitens" may come closest.

      Some of the more interesting examples of it being spelled out in academe include:

      For academic use, anecdotally I've seen very strong recent use of the general methods most compellingly demonstrated in Obsidian (they've also got a Discord server with an academic-focused channel) though many have profitably used DevonThink and Tinderbox (which has a strong, well-established community of academics around it) as much more established products with dovetails into a variety of other academic tools. Obviously there are several dozens of newer tools for doing this since about 2018, though for a lifetime's work, one might worry about their longevity as products.

    1. even Socrates himself, we learnby way of his followers, derided the emerging popularity of taking physicalnotes.

      I recall portions about Socrates deriding "writing" as a mode of expression, but I don't recall specific sections on note taking. What is Ann Blair's referent for this?

      The "emerging popularity of taking physical notes" seems not to be in evidence with only one exemplar of a student who lost their notes within the Blair text.

    2. the Antinet can serve both states. It can assist someone who’s in thegrowth state (without a clear end goal), and it can also assist someone who’sin the contribution state (with a clearly defined book or project).

      This could be clearer and "growth state" and "contribution state" feel like jargon which muddles:

      two of the broad benefits/affordances of having a zettelkasten: - learning and scaffolding knowledge (writing for understanding) - collecting and arranging material for general output

      see also: https://boffosocko.com/2022/04/01/the-zettelkasten-method-of-note-taking-mirrors-most-of-the-levels-of-blooms-taxonomy/

    1. Fact-based disciplines such as natural sciences have less potential for deeply linked, atomic zettel notes than arts and humanities. There is not much to discuss about or 'generate insight' on photosynthesis, algebra or network protocols if you are not a scientist.

      Again note taking is the wrong tool for fact-based acquisition. Apparently this is not advice given in most sources. Spaced repetition and mnemonic methods are far better suited for memorizing and remembering basic facts.

      Take notes on the surprising and unique. Take notes as writing you'll reuse later. Take notes to understand.

    1. Then there were the three lots of blank notebooks, tied with twine. They went for $9,000, $11,000, and $11,000 each. They were empty, some still wrapped in plastic, yet they were totally talismanic. I wondered: Would you write in these notebooks, having paid that price? Perhaps that’s the whole appeal—to write in a blank space that Didion might once have intended to use herself. Maybe the buyer had a hidden wish that somehow her intent might infiltrate their own work—that in owning these notebooks they might crack some secret code to making sentences like hers. There are sillier superstitions. But more likely, I think, you would have paid too much for these notebooks to ever touch them, and they would sit in a drawer or on a desk, unused and empty, just as they sat on hers.
    1. Duolingo or whatever French and I had this idea well basically what it reminds me of is Stefan's Vig the Austrian

      https://youtu.be/r9idbh-U2kM?t=3544

      Stefan Zweig (reference? his memoir?) apparently suggested that students translate authors as a means of becoming more intimately acquainted with their work. This is similar to restating an author in one's own words as a means of improving one's understanding. It's a lower level of processing that osculates on the idea of having a conversation with a text.

      tk: track this reference down. appropriate context?

    1. https://edward-slingerland.medium.com/there-is-only-one-way-to-write-a-book-637535ef5bde

      Example of someone's research, note taking, and writing process using index cards.

      Broadly, this is very similar to the process used by Ryan Holiday, Robert Green, and Victor Margolin.

      While he can't recall the name of the teacher, he credits his 7th grade English teacher (1980-1981) for teaching him the method.


      Edward Slingerland is represented by Brockman Inc.

    2. I’ve also got a vague sense in my head of how they should be organized — that is, what the structure of the book is going to be. This is generally when I write the formal book proposal. I know enough about the topic, now, that I have a good idea of what my central arguments are going to be and how I am going to organize the chapters.

      At what point in the process does one have a conceptualization for the overall outline of what they're writing?

      In cases where it's earlier than others, then heavy linking and organization may not be as necessary.

    3. I have a very specific method for organizing my research and thoughts whenever I’m writing anything longer than a short article. I learned this method from a teacher in middle school, and I cannot imagine how a human being could write a book any other way.

      Example of someone who learned an index card based commonplace book method for note taking and writing.

  14. 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. 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 you are like Lebron James or Paul Simon, if you were born with a gift for recall, you might not need a note-taking system.

      I would suggest that this is wholly wrong as both of the memories described are honed for specific situations and not broadly applicable.

      Even those with good natural memories as well as those with significant mnemonic practices can benefit from a structured note taking practice.

  15. Oct 2022
    1. None of these notes wasever used in his writing; probably they were taken with no thoughtof specific use, but out of absorption in the American scene.

      It's quite likely that one will take a large number of notes with no immediate goal or plan for use and this is completely acceptable. Often these notes go towards the more immediate goal of forming one's own understanding and setting of a broader tableau for material one will write in the future.

    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. It is possible to take too many notes; the task of sorting, filing and assimilating them can take for ever, so that nothing gets written.
    1. In the second case, checking “Connection” in my Index would lead me to this card. I might then compare this thought to others that use the same keyword, to see how it supports or modifies the idea of connection.

      The reliance upon tag-like keywords in physical note-taking of this type seems to be a limitation compared to digital systems that allow full text search. That said, the benefits of full text search might be somewhat overblown, as found search terms say nothing of the context and would need either tags or a quick read of the text to provide that context.

    2. 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. Film making is like note taking

      Incidentally, one should note that the video is made up of snippets over time and then edited together at some later date. Specifically, these snippets are much like regularly taken notes which can then be later used (and even re-used--some could easily appear in other videos) to put together some larger project, namely this compilation video of his process. Pointing out this parallel between note taking and movie/videomaking, makes the note taking process much more easily seen, specifically for students. Note taking is usually a quite and solo endeavor done alone, which makes it much harder to show and demonstrate. And when it is demonstrated or modeled, it's usually dreadfully boring and uninteresting to watch compared to seeing it put together and edited as a finished piece. Edits in a film are visually obvious while the edits in written text, even when done poorly, are invisible.

    1. Sincecopying is a chore and a bore, use of the cards, the smaller thebetter, forces one to extract the strictly relevant, to distill from thevery beginning, to pass the material through the grinder of one’s ownmind, so to speak.

      Barbara Tuchman recommended using the smallest sized index cards possible to force one only to "extract the strictly relevant" because copying by hand can be both "a chore and a bore".

      In the same address in 1963, she encourages "distill[ing] from the very beginning, to pass the material through the grinder of one's own mind, so to speak." This practice is similar to modern day pedagogues who encourage this practice, but with the benefit of psychology research to back up the practice.

      This advice is two-fold in terms of filtering out the useless material for an author, but the grinder metaphor indicates placing multiple types of material in to to a processor to see what new combinations of products come out the other end. This touches more subtly on the idea of combinatorial creativity encouraged by Raymond Llull, Matt Ridley, et al. or the serendipity described by Niklas Luhmann and others.


      When did the writing for understanding idea begin within the tradition? Was it through experience in part and then underlined with psychology research? Visit Ahrens' references on this for particular papers to read.

      Link to modality shift research.

    1. https://archive.org/details/refiningreadingw0000meij/page/256/mode/2up?q=index+card

      Refining, reading, writing : includes 2009 mla update card by Mei, Jennifer (Nelson, 2007)

      Contains a very generic reference to note taking on index cards for arranging material, but of such a low quality in comparison to more sophisticated treatments in the century prior. Apparently by this time the older traditions have disappeared and have been heavily watered down into just a few paragraphs.

    1. Goutor only mentions two potential organizational patterns for creating output with one's card index: either by chronological order or topical order. (p34) This might be typical for a historian who is likely to be more interested in chronologies and who would have likely noted down dates within their notes.

    2. For physical note taking on index cards or visualizations provided by computer generated graphs, one can physically view a mass of notes and have a general feeling if there is a large enough corpus to begin writing an essay, chapter, or book or if one needs to do additional research on a topic, or perhaps pick a different topic on which to focus.

      (parts suggested by p7, though broadly obvious)

  16. Sep 2022
    1. • Daily writing prevents writer’s block.• Daily writing demystifies the writing process.• Daily writing keeps your research always at the top of your mind.• Daily writing generates new ideas.• Daily writing stimulates creativity• Daily writing adds up incrementally.• Daily writing helps you figure out what you want to say.

      What specifically does she define "writing" to be? What exactly is she writing, and how much? What does her process look like?

      One might also consider the idea of active reading and writing notes. I may not "write" daily in the way she means, but my note writing, is cumulative and beneficial in the ways she describes in her list. I might further posit that the amount of work/effort it takes me to do my writing is far more fruitful and productive than her writing.

      When I say writing, I mean focused note taking (either excerpting, rephrasing, or original small ideas which can be stitched together later). I don't think this is her same definition.

      I'm curious how her process of writing generates new ideas and creativity specifically?


      One might analogize the idea of active reading with a pen in hand as a sort of Einsteinian space-time. Many view reading and writing as to separate and distinct practices. What if they're melded together the way Einstein reconceptualized the space time continuum? The writing advice provided by those who write about commonplace books, zettelkasten, and general note taking combines an active reading practice with a focused writing practice that moves one toward not only more output, but higher quality output without the deleterious effects seen in other methods.

    1. @BenjaminVanDyneReplying to @ChrisAldrichI wish I had a good answer! The book I use when I teach is Joseph Harris’s “rewriting” which is technically a writing book but teaches well as a book about how to read in a writerly way.

      Thanks for this! I like the framing and general concept of the book.

      It seems like its a good follow on to Dan Allosso's OER text How to Make Notes and Write https://minnstate.pressbooks.pub/write/ or Sönke Ahrens' How to Take Smart Notes https://amzn.to/3DwJVMz which includes some useful psychology and mental health perspective.

      Other similar examples are Umberto Eco's How to Write a Thesis (MIT, 2015) or Gerald Weinberg's The Fieldstone Method https://amzn.to/3DCf6GA These may be some of what we're all missing.

      I'm reminded of Mark Robertson's (@calhistorian) discussion of modeling his note taking practice and output in his classroom using Roam Research. https://hyp.is/QuB5NDa0Ee28hUP7ExvFuw/thatsthenorm.com/mark-robertson-history-socratic-dialogue/ Perhaps we need more of this?

      Early examples of this sort of note taking can also be seen in the religious studies space with Melanchthon's handbook on commonplaces or Jonathan Edwards' Miscellanies, though missing are the process from notes to writings. https://www.logos.com/grow/jonathan-edwards-organizational-genius/

      Other examples of these practices in the wild include @andy_matuschak's https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGcs4tyey18 and TheNonPoet's https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sdp0jo2Fe4 Though it may be better for students to see this in areas in which they're interested.

      Hypothes.is as a potential means of modeling and allowing students to directly "see" this sort of work as it progresses using public/semi-public annotations may be helpful. Then one can separately model re-arranging them and writing a paper. https://web.hypothes.is/

      Reply to: https://twitter.com/BenjaminVanDyne/status/1571171086171095042

    1. Courtney, Jennifer Pooler. “A Review of Rewriting: How to Do Things with Texts.” The Journal of Effective Teaching 7, no. 1 (2007): 74–77.

      Review of: Harris, Joseph. Rewriting: How To Do Things With Texts. Logan: Utah State University Press, 2006. https://muse.jhu.edu/book/9248.

  17. Aug 2022
    1. Allosso, Dan, and S. F. Allosso. How to Make Notes and Write. Minnesota State Pressbooks, 2022. https://minnstate.pressbooks.pub/write/.

      Annotatable .pdf copy for Hypothes.is: https://docdrop.org/pdf/How-to-Make-Notes-and-Write---Allosso-Dan-jzdq8.pdf/

      Nota Bene:

      These annotations are of a an early pre-release draft of the text. One ought to download the most recent revised/final/official draft at https://minnstate.pressbooks.pub/write/.

    1. Dutcher, George Matthew. “Directions and Suggestions for the Writing of Essays or Theses in History.” Historical Outlook 22, no. 7 (November 1, 1931): 329–38. https://doi.org/10.1080/21552983.1931.10114595

    2. These Directions and suggestions were first cornpiled in1908, and the first edition was printed in 1911 for use in theauthor‘s own classes. The present edition is the result ofthorough revision and is planned for general use.

      This will be much more interesting given that he'd first written about this topic in 1908 and has accumulated more experience since then.

      Look for suggestions about the potential change in practice over the ensuing years.

      Is the original version extant in his papers?

    3. One can't help but notice that Dutcher's essay, laid out like it is in a numbered fashion with one or two paragraphs each may stem from the fact of his using his own note taking method.

      Each section seems to have it's own headword followed by pre-written notes in much the same way he indicates one should take notes in part 18.

      It could be illustrative to count the number of paragraphs in each numbered section. Skimming, most are just a paragraph or two at most while a few do go as high as 5 or 6 though these are rarer. A preponderance of shorter one or two paragraphs that fill a single 3x5" card would tend to more directly support the claim. Though it is also the case that one could have multiple attached cards on a single idea. In Dutcher's case it's possible that these were paperclipped or stapled together (does he mention using one side of the slip only, which is somewhat common in this area of literature on note making?). It seems reasonably obvious that he's not doing more complex numbering or ordering the way Luhmann did, but he does seem to be actively using it to create and guide his output directly in a way (and even publishing it as such) that supports his method.

      Is this then evidence for his own practice? He does actively mention in several places links to section numbers where he also cross references ideas in one card to ideas in another, thereby creating a network of related ideas even within the subject heading of his overall essay title.

      Here it would be very valuable to see his note collection directly or be able to compare this 1927 version to an earlier 1908 version which he mentions.

    1. https://scottscheper.com/letter/36/

      Clemens Luhmann, Niklas' son, has a copy of a book written in German in 1932 and given to his father by Friedrich Rudolf Hohl which ostensibly is where Luhmann learned his zettelkasten technique. It contains a 34 page chapter titled Die Kartei (the Card Index) which has the details.

    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.
  18. Jul 2022
    1. For those curious about the idea of what students might do with the notes and annotations they're making in the margins of their texts using Hypothes.is, I would submit that Dan Allosso's OER handbook How to Make Notes and Write (Minnesota State Pressbooks, 2022) may be a very useful place to turn. https://minnstate.pressbooks.pub/write/

      It provides some concrete advice on the topic of once you've highlighted and annotated various texts for a course, how might you then turn your new understanding, ideas, and extant thinking work into a blogpost, essay, term paper or thesis.

      For a similar, but alternative take, the book How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking by Sönke Ahrens (Create Space, 2017) may also be helpful as well. This text however requires purchase via Amazon and doesn't carry the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike (by-nc-sa 4.0) license that Dr. Allosso's does.

      In addition to the online copy of the book, there's an annotatable .pdf copy available here: http://docdrop.org/pdf/How-to-Make-Notes-and-Write---Allosso-Dan-jzdq8.pdf/ though one can download .epub and .pdf copies directly from the Pressbooks site.

    1. Finally, new notes should be connected with anexisting note when you add them to your system. I’lldescribe this in greater detail shortly; the point for now isthat linking a new thought to an existing train of thoughtseems to be a key to your note-making system workingfor you. Where does this new idea fit into your thoughtson an issue? Your questions about a topic? Your ideasabout a puzzle you’re working on understanding?Disciplining yourself to make this connection can be abit tough and time-consuming at first. It is worth theinvestment. Without understanding how these ideas thatinterest us fit together, all we have is a pile of unrelatedtrivia.

      Writing and refining one's note about an idea can be key to helping one's basic understanding of that idea, but this understanding is dramatically increased by linking it into the rest of one's framework of understanding of that idea. A useful side benefit of creating this basic understanding and extending it is that one can also reuse one's (better understood) ideas to create new papers for expanding other's reading and subsequent understanding.

    1. Synthesis notes are a strategy for taking and using reading notes that bring together—synthesize—what we read with our thoughts about our topic in a way that lets us integrate our notes seamlessly into the process of writing a first draft. Six steps will take us from reading sources to a first draft.

      Similar to Beatrice Webb's definition of synthetic notes in My Apprentice (1926), thought this also includes movement into actually drafting writing.

      What year was this written?

      The idea here seems to be less discrete in the steps of the writing process and subsumes multiple things instead of breaking them into discrete conceptual parts. Has this been some of what has caused issues in the note taking to creation process in the last century?

    1. Perhaps the best method would be to take notes—not excerpts, but condensed reformulations of what has been read.

      One of the best methods for technical reading is to create progressive summarizations of what one has read.

    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.

  19. Jun 2022
    1. send off your draft or beta orproposal for feedback. Share this Intermediate Packet with a friend,family member, colleague, or collaborator; tell them that it’s still awork-in-process and ask them to send you their thoughts on it. Thenext time you sit down to work on it again, you’ll have their input andsuggestions to add to the mix of material you’re working with.

      A major benefit of working in public is that it invites immediate feedback (hopefully positive, constructive criticism) from anyone who might be reading it including pre-built audiences, whether this is through social media or in a classroom setting utilizing discussion or social annotation methods.

      This feedback along the way may help to further find flaws in arguments, additional examples of patterns, or links to ideas one may not have considered by themselves.

      Sadly, depending on your reader's context and understanding of your work, there are the attendant dangers of context collapse which may provide or elicit the wrong sorts of feedback, not to mention general abuse.

    2. the time you sit down tomake progress on something, all the work to gather and organize thesource material needs to already be done. We can’t expectourselves to instantly come up with brilliant ideas on demand. Ilearned that innovation and problem-solving depend on a routine thatsystematically brings interesting ideas to the surface of ourawareness.

      By writing down and collecting ideas slowly over time, working on them in small fits and spurts, when one finally comes to do the final work on their writing project or other work, the pieces only need minor shaping to take their final form. This process allows for a much greater level of serendipity, creativity, and potential sustained genius of connecting ideas across time to take shape in a final piece.


      How does this relate to diffuse thinking? How can slow diffuse thinking be leveraged into this process?

      Writing down fleeting notes while walking around can be valuable as one's ideas brew slowly in the mind (diffuse thinking) in combination with active combinatorial creativity, thus a form of Llullan combinatorial diffusion.


      Many business books seem so shallow and often only have one real insight which is repeated multiple times, perhaps to drive the point home or perhaps just to have enough filler to seem being worth the purchase of a book.

      Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich is an example of this, though it shows a different form of genius in expanding the idea from a variety of perspectives so that eventually everyone will absorb the broader idea which is distilled to great effect into the title.

    3. 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.

  20. 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. You have, of course, another guide to the right sequence: thenotes in front of you; but let them spur, not drag you onward.In short, write from memory-as far as possible-with only oc-casional pron1pting from the notes, and make everything correctand shipshape later.

      Rather than using his notes as the actual writing, Barzun suggests writing "from memory" and only occasionally using prompting from one's notes.

      This is wholly opposed to the idea of reusing the writing of one's notes in more advanced zettelkasten methods.

    2. the notes and the outline must be played with in combination,each by its nature presenting you with choices to follow or rejectuntil the whole is set.
    3. Barzun, Jacques. Simple and Direct : A Rhetoric for Writers. Revised edition. University of Chicago Press, 1985.

  21. May 2022
    1. For Eco on using something like a ZK, see his short book How to Write an Essay. Basically, he writes about making something that we could say is like a ZK, but one card system for each writing assignment.

      Umberto Eco's book How to Write a Thesis (MIT Press, 2015, #) can broadly be thought of as a zettelkasten system, but it advises a separate system for each project or writing assignment. This is generally good advice, and potentially excellent for students on a one-time basis, but it prevents one from benefitting from the work over multiple projects or even a lifetime.

      In some sense, a more traditional approach, and one seen used in Niklas Luhmann's example is to keep different sections separated by broad topics.

      Niklas Luhmann's zettelkasten #1 had 108 broad topics (along with a bibliography and a subject index), and zettelkasten #2 had 11 broad topics. (Cross reference: https://niklas-luhmann-archiv.de/bestand/zettelkasten/inhaltsuebersicht)

      The zettelkasten structure allowed a familiar "folder" like top level structure, but the bibliographic and subject indices allowed them to interlink ideas from one space to the next for longer term work on multiple projects simultaneously.

    1. The minute we saw his frantic, hand-lettered presentation of the Field Notes credo — “I’m not writing it down to remember it later, I’m writing it down to remember it now” — we knew just what to do.

      https://fieldnotesbrand.com/apparel/remember-it-now-tee

      Field Notes, a manufacturer of notebooks, uses the credo "I'm not writing it down to remember it later, I'm writing it down to remember it now." This is an fun restatement of the idea behind the power of the Feynman technique.

      Link to Ahrens' version of this idea.

  22. Apr 2022
    1. Theories of note-taking can tell us about how memory and writingwere understood, and practices of note-taking, about the tools that proved mostuseful in managing textual information in early modern Europe.

      Historical note taking practices can tell us many things aside from just the ways in which textual information was managed. They can also tell us about how people lived, how they thought, how they used memory and writing and how these things were understood culturally.

      We do however need to be careful in how we interpret these documents historically. We need to attempt to view them exegetically and not eisegetically. We also need to be careful to look at them from a "large world" perspective and not presume that small things had large and heavy influence on things to come in the future.

    2. 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
    1. 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.

    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. 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. I had to admit that once again my attempts to disrupt thinking with a technology of note-taking had only resulted in an enormous, useless accumulation of busywork.

      I am starting to think the Zettelkasten is impossible for most people. Luhmann worked on his manically, as do I. That isn't sustainable or the goal for most, increased magical efficiency is, and is does not seem that technology has been able to make it more accessible.

      Still though, I cannot believe that their note taking practice produced no value. Even if it failed to write the dissertation, where would they have been without it? I guess that they wish they had spent their time on something different, but what would that have been and would if have inspired them like their professor's note archive?

    1. Links or references do not emphasize the relationship between notes (ideas, content). The context of connections usually remains unclear due to arbitrary relationships. Folgezettel, however, create specific relationships – adding manual links (references) to these relationships create relationship of relationships, the core aspect of Luhmann’s working principle

      I think the distinction between Folgezettel and direct links isn't useful. The real distinction is between connections that are defined relationships, and connections that are undefined.

  23. Mar 2022
    1. In short, to collect connections without an explicit intention, captured meaning, or statement of relevance is not knowledge production, and as a habit, it is even counter-productive: You make shallowness of work a habit and lower your skill as a creative knowledge worker in consequence.

      I both agree and disagree. Filling your notes up with only surface level or tangentially related notes will make using your web harder, but actively recalling notes that are even a little related is part of the reason we use this method. Sometimes I will just link five or ten notes without thinking about it, and then I will go and revise those connections down to the most relevant ones.

    1. sometimes it's 00:55:43 not the actual information bit but in a combined order that this is what it's all about and that often makes a difference between yeah you understand it and 00:56:00 you really understand it and um so maybe that's a good reminder that when we write it's it's not so much about new information and yeah don't have to 00:56:15 be too worried about not having the new information but about making this difference to really understanding it as something that 00:56:28 a significant or makes a difference

      For overall understanding and creating new writing output from it, the immediate focus shouldn't be about revealing new information or simple facts so much as it's about being able to place that new information into your own context. Once this has been done then the focus can shift to later being able to potentially use that new knowledge and understanding in other novel and enlightening contexts to create new insights.

  24. Feb 2022
    1. Steven Johnson indicates that the word processor is a terrible tool for writing because it doesn't have usable affordances for building up longer pieces from one's notes or basic ideas.

      He discusses his specific workflow of note taking and keeping ideas in Scrivener where he arranges them into folders and outlines which then become the source of his writing.

      Different from the typical zettelkasten workflow, he's keeping his notes hierarchically organized in folders based on topic keywords and only later when creating a specific writing project making explicit links and orders between his notes to create longer pieces. It's here that his work diverges most dramatically to the zettelkasten method described by Sönke Ahrens.

  25. gingkowriter.com gingkowriter.com
    1. https://gingkowriter.com/

      This looks like an interesting tool for moving from notes to an outline to a written document. Could be interesting for dovetailing with a zettelkasten.

      How to move data from something like Obsidian to Ginko Writer though?

    1. no underlinedsentence will ever present itself when you need it in the developmentof an argument.
    2. Everything You Need to Do

      Ahrens looks at the discrete steps of writing a paper or book in reverse order... all the way back to creating the initial notes and ideas. By framing it this way, he shows the value of note taking as a means of making the entire enterprise so much easier.

    1. It should be recognized that these basic note types are very different than the digital garden framing of 📤 (seedbox), 🌱 (seedling), 🪴 (sapling), 🌲 (evergreen), etc. which are another measure of the growth and expansion of not just one particular idea but potentially multiple ideas over time. These are a project management sort of tool for focusing on the growth of ideas. Within some tools, one might also use graph views and interconnectedness as means of charting this same sort of growth.

      Sönke Ahrens' framing of fleeting note, literature note, and permanent note are a value assignation to the types of each of these notes with respect to generating new ideas and writing.

  26. Dec 2021
    1. I was suddenly deluged with ads for “the world’s thinnest tablet,” which promised not only to replace pen and paper but to help you “Get Your Brain Back.” The company’s Lovecraftian promotional ad, which has racked up nearly three million views, begins with a hissing demon-child clinging to her iPad and proceeds through an animated hellscape complete with attention-sucking brain tubes and notifications circling like sharks. The narrator quavers an ominous warning: “We have to modify technology, or else it will modify us.”

      Given the diversions of modern digital life, perhaps the best way to do one's writing is to do it at the moment of reading the actual references. Often while reading, one isn't as apt to have their attention diverted by the vagaries of life, instead they are focused on the thing at hand. It is while one has this focused attention that they should let their note taking practice while reading take over.

      Even if you are distracted, you can at least maintain focus on a single line of text and your thoughts related to it and write them down in either a summary sentence or with a few related ideas which are sparked by the initial idea.

      (This note is such an example.)

      Then one can start and complete a small idea at a time and then letting them build over time and space, then recollect them to create a piece which then doesn't need to be written and painfully created, but which may only need an outline structure and some final polish and editing.

    2. The experiments gradually meshed into a literary Rube Goldberg machine, a teetering assemblage of Scriveners and SimpleTexts that left me perpetually uncertain of which thought I’d written down where.

      The most solid basis of a note taking (reading, thinking, and writing) practice is having a central repository from which all material is linked and readily available. Having separate loci, especially digital ones, is a recipe for failure for the lack of the ability to find what you need when you need it.

    3. For a long time, I believed that my only hope of becoming a professional writer was to find the perfect tool.

      What exactly would be the ideal group of features in a writer's perfect tool? There are many out there for a variety of axes of production, but does anything cover it all?

      Functionality potentially for:

      • taking notes
      • collecting examples
      • memory
        • search or other means of pulling things up at their moment of need
      • outlining functionality
      • arranging and rearranging material
      • spellcheckers
      • grammar checkers
      • other?

      With

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  28. Aug 2021
    1. For example, his erasable writing tablet is referenced inW. Blunt, Linnaeus: The Compleat Naturalist(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001), 70.

      What form did Carl Linnaeus' erasable writing tablet take?

  29. Oct 2020
    1. Consider that no single step in the process of turning raw ideas into finished pieces of writing is particularly difficult. It isn’t very hard to write down notes in the first place. Nor is turning a group of notes into an outline very demanding. It also isn’t much of a challenge to turn a working outline full of relevant arguments into a rough draft. And polishing a well-conceived rough draft into a final draft is trivial. So if each individual step is so easy, why do we find the overall experience of writing so grueling? Because we try to do all the steps at once. Each of the activities that make up “writing” – reading, reflecting, having ideas, making connections, distinguishing terms, finding the right words, structuring, organizing, editing, correcting, and rewriting – require a very different kind of attention.
    2. Writing then is best seen not only as a tool for thinking but as a tool for personal growth.
  30. Sep 2020
    1. Writing in the margins has always been an essential activity for students.

      I never really got into the habit of writing in the margins of books, it was something that never really occurred to me. While I am still hesitant to write in the margins of physical books, doing so digitally does appeal. Something I am starting to get more into, now that I'm on the journey to getting my Arts and Humanities degree.

    1. Most writers don’t write to express what they think. They write to figure out what they think. Writing is a process of discovery.

      This is good point about blogging, however it's also a different way of thinking about writing than using e.g. Zettelkasten, where the thinking process is within the boundary of slip-box, but the outcome is composed from the notes you have.