- Oct 2022
Thus Paxson was not content to limit historians to the immediateand the ascertainable. Historical truth must appear through some-thing short of scientific method, and in something other than scien-tific form, linked and geared to the unassimilable mass of facts.There was no standard technique suited to all persons and purposes,in note-taking or in composition. "The ordinary methods of his-torical narrative are ineffective before a theme that is in its essen-tials descriptive," he wrote of Archer B. Hulbert's Forty- Niners(1931) in 1932. "In some respects the story of the trails can notbe told until it is thrown into the form of epic poetry, or comes un-der the hand of the historical novelist." 42
This statement makes it appear as if Paxson was aware of the movement in the late 1800s of the attempt to make history a more scientific endeavor by writers like Bernheim, Langlois/Seignobos, and others, but that Pomeroy is less so.
How scientific can history be as an area of study? There is the descriptive from which we might draw conclusions, but how much can we know when there are not only so many potential variables, but we generally lack the ability to design and run discrete experiments on history itself?
Recall Paxson's earlier comment that "in history you cannot prove an inference". https://hypothes.is/a/LIWSoFlLEe2zUtvMoEr0nQ
Had enough time elapsed up to this writing in 1953, that the ideal of a scientific history from the late 1800s had been borne out not to be accomplished?
Synopsis: Maggie Delano looks at some of the affordances supplied by Tana (compared to Roam Research) in terms of providing better block-based user interface for note type creation, search, and filtering.
These sorts of tools and programmable note implementations remind me of Beatrice Webb's idea of scientific note taking or using her note cards like a database to sort and search for data to analyze it and create new results and insight.
It would seem that many of these note taking tools like Roam and Tana are using blocks and sub blocks as a means of defining atomic notes or database-like data in a way in which sub-blocks are linked to or "filed underneath" their parent blocks. In reality it would seem that they're still using a broadly defined index card type system as used in the late 1800s/early 1900s to implement a set up that otherwise would be a traditional database in the Microsoft Excel or MySQL sort of fashion, the major difference being that the user interface is cognitively easier to understand for most people.
These allow people to take a form of structured textual notes to which might be attached other smaller data or meta data chunks that can be easily searched, sorted, and filtered to allow for quicker or easier use.
Ostensibly from a mathematical (or set theoretic and even topological) point of view there should be a variety of one-to-one and onto relationships (some might even extend these to "links") between these sorts of notes and database representations such that one should be able to implement their note taking system in Excel or MySQL and do all of these sorts of things.
Cascading Idea Sheets or Cascading Idea Relationships
One might analogize these sorts of note taking interfaces to Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). While there is the perennial question about whether or not CSS is a programming language, if we presume that it is (and it is), then we can apply the same sorts of class, id, and inheritance structures to our notes and their meta data. Thus one could have an incredibly atomic word, phrase, or even number(s) which inherits a set of semantic relationships to those ideas which it sits below. These links and relationships then more clearly define and contextualize them with respect to other similar ideas that may be situated outside of or adjacent to them. Once one has done this then there is a variety of Boolean operations which might be applied to various similar sets and classes of ideas.
If one wanted to go an additional level of abstraction further, then one could apply the ideas of category theory to one's notes to generate new ideas and structures. This may allow using abstractions in one field of academic research to others much further afield.
The user interface then becomes the key differentiator when bringing these ideas to the masses. Developers and designers should be endeavoring to allow the power of complex searches, sorts, and filtering while minimizing the sorts of advanced search queries that an average person would be expected to execute for themselves while also allowing some reasonable flexibility in the sorts of ways that users might (most easily for them) add data and meta data to their ideas.
Jupyter programmable notebooks are of this sort, but do they have the same sort of hierarchical "card" type (or atomic note type) implementation?
- Beatrice Webb
- Boolean algebra
- building blocks
- category theory
- super tags
- integrated development environment
- card index as database
- user interface
- Maggie Delano
- cascading idea sheets
- scientific note taking
- idea links
- programmable notes
- Roam Research
- integrated thinking environments
- types of notes
There is a difference between various modes of note taking and their ultimate outcomes. Some is done for learning about an area and absorbing it into one's own source of general knowledge. Others are done to collect and generate new sorts of knowledge. But some may be done for raw data collection and analysis. Beatrice Webb called this "scientific note taking".
Historian Jacques Goutor talks about research preparation for this sort of data collecting and analysis though he doesn't give it a particular name. He recommends reading papers in related areas to prepare for the sort of data acquisition one may likely require so that one can plan out some of one's needs in advance. This will allow the researcher, especially in areas like history or sociology, the ability to preplan some of the sorts of data and notes they'll need to take from their historical sources or subjects in order to carry out their planned goals. (p8)
C. Wright Mills mentions (On Intellectual Craftsmanship, 1952) similar research planning whereby he writes out potential longer research methods even when he is not able to spend the time, effort, energy, or other (financial) resources to carry out such plans. He felt that just the thought experiments and exercise of doing such unfulfilled research often bore fruit in his other sociological endeavors.
A career-line study of the presidents, all cabinet members,and all members of the Supreme Court. This 1 'already have onIBM cards from the constitutional period through Truman'ssecond term, but I want to expand the items used and analyze itafresh.
Notice that it's not just notes, but data on IBM cards that he's using for research here. This sort of data analysis is much easier now, but is also of the sort detailed by Beatrice Webb in her scientific note taking.
- Sep 2022
Heyde, Johannes Erich. Technik des wissenschaftlichen Arbeitens. (Sektion 1.2 Die Kartei) Junker und Dünnhaupt, 1931.
(Unknown translation from German into English. v1 TK)
The overall title of the work (in English: Technique of Scientific Work) calls immediately to mind the tradition of note taking growing out of the scientific historical methods work of Bernheim and Langlois/Seignobos and even more specifically the description of note taking by Beatrice Webb (1926) who explicitly used the phrase "recipe for scientific note-taking".
first reading: 2022-08-23 second reading: 2022-09-22
Oftentimes they even refered to one another.
An explicit reference in 1931 in a section on note taking to cross links between entries in accounting ledgers. This linking process is a a precursor to larger database processes seen in digital computing.
Were there other earlier references that are this explicit within either note making or accounting contexts? Surely... (See also: Beatrice Webb's scientific note taking)
Just the word "digital" computing defines that there must have been an "analog' computing which preceded it. However we think of digital computing in much broader terms than we may have of the analog process.
Human thinking is heavily influenced by associative links, so it's only natural that we should want to link our notes together on paper as we've done for tens of thousands of years (at least.)
- Beatrice Webb
- associative thinking
- analog vs. digital
- associative memory
- Charles Seignobos
- zettelkasten method
- note taking methods
- accounting influence on note taking
- scientific note taking
- Ernst Bernheim
- idea links
- Charles Victor Langlois
- Johannes Erich Heyde
- historical method
arranged according to their subject-matter ;" that" epigraphic monuments belonging to the sameterritory mutually explain each other when placedside by side ;" and, lastly, that " while it is all butimpossible to range in order of subject-matter ahundred thousand inscriptions nearly all of whichbelong to several categories ; on the other hand,each monument has but one place, and a verydefinite place, in the geographical order."
Similar to the examples provided by Beatrice Webb in My Apprenticeship, the authors here are talking about a sort of scientific note taking method that is ostensibly similar to that of the use of a modern day computer database or spreadsheet function, but which had to be effected in index card form to do the sorting and compiling and analysis.
Do the authors here use the specific phrase scientific note taking? It appears that they do not.
The systematic order, or arrangement by sub-jects, is not to be recommended for the compilationof a Corpus or of regesta.
- Jul 2022
recipe for scientific note-taking
Notice that Beatrice Webb uses the modifier "scientific" to describe her note taking. She also indicates that note taking has a "scientific value".
This process serves a similar purpose in sociology to that of theblow-pipe and the balance in chemistry, or the prism and the electro¬scope in physics. That is to say, it enables the scientific worker to breakup his subject-matter, so as to isolate and examine at his leisure itsvarious component parts, and to recombine them in new and experi¬mental groupings in order to discover which sequences of events have acausal significance
Beatrice Webb analogized the card index (or note taking using slips of paper) as serving the function of a scientific tool for sociologists the way that chemists use blow pipes and balances or physicists use the prism or electroscope. These tools all help the researcher examine small constituent parts and then situate them in other orderings to provide insight into the subject areas.