- Feb 2023
Local file Local file
It is reminiscent ofPierre Nora’s suggestion that physical objects and especially the written word constitute‘archival memory,’ a secondary or ‘prosthesis’ memory (Nora, 1989: 14).
- Dec 2021
When the user stores his thoughts in his own filing cabinet, these thoughts are no longer his own but those of his filing cabinet. In turn, the machine that gathers and reproduces excerpts is, and remains, a ‘black box’. It is not simply another Ego for enacting a user’s soliloquy but a true Alter Ego with whom the user communicates. Additionally, when the machine is started, the user does not simply refresh his memory; the filing cabinet actually speaks. To achieve this practical outcome, the card index must be provided with a ‘life of its own’ (Eigenleben) which should be as independent of the life of its educator as possible.30 In this sense, the card index functions as a ‘secondary memory’ in Stübel’s terms. This result raises some questions which justify the present article. Is there a socio-structural reason why such an improbability became possible? Is there a trend, in early and late modern society, toward an externalization and technologizing of social memory? And what insight can we gain into intellectual history?
I'm not completely sure I can agree with this. Perhaps I'm missing part of his point?
There is a quirky relationship here to the idea of a personbyte, the complete amount of information and knowledge a person can have. Even misty memories that a person can remember or be reminded of are part of this knowledge. Perfect recall isn't necessary as some things can potentially be reconstituted with some thought towards recreation of an idea.
Compare this with the idea of epic poetry and song of the Yugoslavian guslars. Some may be more artful than others, but at what point are they telling a new story?
In a short academic dissertation on the art of excerpts, Andreas Stübel described the card index as a ‘secondary and subsidiary memory’ (‘memoria secundaria and subsidiaria’), summing up in just three words the dilemma scholars had been struggling with for two centuries with respect to the use of commonplace books.28 As far as I know, Stübel was the first among contem-poraries to speak of secondary memory.
28 Andreas M. Stübel, Exercitatio academica de excerptis adornandis (Leipzig, 1684), 33
Andreas M. Stübel, in Exercitatio academica de excerptis adornandis (Leipzig, 1684), becomes the first to of many to speak about the idea of "secondary memory".
I like this idea better than Tiago Forte's marketing term "second brain."
In fact, the methodical use of notebooks changed the relationship between natural memory and artificial memory, although contemporaries did not immediately realize it. Historical research supports the idea that what was once perceived as a memory aid was now used as secondary memory.18
During the 16th century there was a transition in educational centers from using the natural and artificial memories to the methodical use of notebooks and commonplace books as a secondary memory saved by means of writing.
This allows people in some sense to "forget" what they've read and learned and be surprised by it again later. They allow themselves to create liminal memories which may be refreshed and brought to the center later. Perhaps there is also some benefit in this liminal memory for allowing ideas to steep on the periphery before using them. Perhaps combinatorial creativity happens unconsciously?
Cross reference: learning research by Barbara Oakley and Terry Sejnowski.
- commonplace books
- second brain
- liminal memories
- secondary memory
- Andreas M. Stübel
- Barbara Oakley
- Terry Sejnowski
- combinatorial creativity
- note taking
- cognitive neuroscience