38 Matching Annotations
  1. Sep 2022
    1. After a leisurely lunch, prepared by the German cook who came with the house, I would spend another four-hour span in a lawn chair, among the roses and mockingbirds, using lined index cards and a Blackwing pencil, for copying and recopying, rubbing out and writing anew, the scenes I had imagined in the morning. Foreword to Lolita: A Screenplay (1973)
  2. Aug 2022
    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.
  3. Jul 2022
    1. Beyond the cards mentioned above, you should also capture any hard-to-classify thoughts, questions, and areas for further inquiry on separate cards. Regularly go through these to make sure that you are covering everything and that you don’t forget something.I consider these insurance cards because they won’t get lost in some notebook or scrap of paper, or email to oneself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  4. May 2022
    1. commenting in an interview: “By the way, many people havecome here to see that.”13 The writing tool became an object of desire, especially foryoung academics seeking to add a carefully planned card index to their carefully plannedcareers: “After all, Fred wants to be a professor.” 1

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

      1. Ralf Klassen, “Bezaubernde Jeannie oder Liebe ist nur ein Zeitvertreib,” in Wir Fernsehkinder. Eine Generation ohne Programm, ed. Walter Wüllenweber (Berlin: Rowohlt Berlin Verlag, 1994), 81 – 97, at 84.
  5. Apr 2022
    1. Reviewing The Original of Laura, Alexander Theroux describes the cards as a “portable strategy that allowed [Nabokov] to compose in the car while his wife drove the devoted lepidopterist on butterfly expeditions.”

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

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

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

  6. Mar 2022
  7. 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.

    1. The slip-box provides not only a clear structure to work in, but also forces usto shift our attention consciously as we can complete tasks inreasonable time before moving on to the next one.

      Ahrens provides a quick overview of some research on distraction, attention, and multi-tasking to make the point that:

      The simple structure and design of the zettelkasten forces one's focus and attention on small individual tasks that cumulatively build into better thinking and writing.

      (Summary of Section 9.2)

    2. Every intellectual endeavour starts from an already existingpreconception, which then can be transformed during further inquiresand can serve as a starting point for following endeavours. Basically,that is what Hans-Georg Gadamer called the hermeneutic circle

      (Gadamer 2004).

      All intellectual endeavors start from a preexisting set of ideas. These can then be built upon to create new concepts which then influence the original starting point and may continue ever expanding with further thought.

      Ahrens argues that most writing advice goes against the idea of the hermeneutic circle and pretends as if the writer is starting with a blank page. This can prefigure some of the stress and difficulty Ernest Hemingway spoke of when he compared writing to "facing the white bull which is paper with no words on it."

      While it can be convenient to think of the idea of tabula rasa, in practice it really doesn't exist. As a result the zettelkasten more readily shows its value in the writing process.

    3. Even ifyou decide never to write a single line of a manuscript, you willimprove your reading, thinking and other intellectual skills just bydoing everything as if nothing counts other than writing.

      Is there evidence that this is true?

    4. A good structure is something you can trust. It relieves you fromthe burden of remembering and keeping track of everything. If youcan trust the system, you can let go of the attempt to hold everythingtogether in your head and you can start focusing on what isimportant:

      Whether it's for writing, to do lists, or other productivity spaces, a well designed system is something that one can put their absolute trust into. This allows one to free themselves from the burden of tracking and dealing with minutiae so they can get serious work done.

  8. 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?

  9. Jan 2022
    1. https://vimeo.com/232545219

      from: Eyeo Conference 2017


      Robin Sloan at Eyeo 2017 | Writing with the Machine | Language models built with recurrent neural networks are advancing the state of the art on what feels like a weekly basis; off-the-shelf code is capable of astonishing mimicry and composition. What happens, though, when we take those models off the command line and put them into an interactive writing environment? In this talk Robin presents demos of several tools, including one presented here for the first time. He discusses motivations and process, shares some technical tips, proposes a course for the future — and along the way, write at least one short story together with the audience: all of us, and the machine.


      Robin created a corpus using If Magazine and Galaxy Magazine from the Internet Archive and used it as a writing tool. He talks about using a few other models for generating text.

      Some of the idea here is reminiscent of the way John McPhee used the 1913 Webster Dictionary for finding words (or le mot juste) for his work, as tangentially suggested in Draft #4 in The New Yorker (2013-04-22)

      Cross reference: https://hypothes.is/a/t2a9_pTQEeuNSDf16lq3qw and https://hypothes.is/a/vUG82pTOEeu6Z99lBsrRrg from https://jsomers.net/blog/dictionary

      Croatian acapella singing: klapa https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sciwtWcfdH4

      Writing using the adjacent possible.

      Corpus building as an art [~37:00]

      Forgetting what one trained their model on and then seeing the unexpected come out of it. This is similar to Luhmann's use of the zettelkasten as a serendipitous writing partner.

      Open questions

      How might we use information theory to do this more easily?

      What does a person or machine's "hand" look like in the long term with these tools?

      Can we use corpus linguistics in reverse for this?

      What sources would you use to train your model?


      • Andrej Karpathy. 2015. "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Recurrent Neural Networks"
      • Samuel R. Bowman, Luke Vilnis, Oriol Vinyals, et al. "Generating sentences from a continuous space." 2015. arXiv: 1511.06349
      • Stanislau Semeniuta, Aliaksei Severyn, and Erhardt Barth. 2017. "A Hybrid Convolutional Variational Autoencoder for Text generation." arXiv:1702.02390
      • Soroush Mehri, et al. 2017. "SampleRNN: An Unconditional End-to-End Neural Audio Generation Model." arXiv:1612.07837 applies neural networks to sound and sound production
    1. I could quote Luhmann on this as well, who thought that "without writing one cannot think," But there is nothing peculiarly "Luhmannian" about this idea. Isaac Asimov is said to have said "Writing to me is simply thinking through my fingers." And, to give one other example, E. B. White (of "Strunk and White" fame) claimed that "writing is one way to go about thinking." In other words, writing is thinking. And since I do almost all my significant writing in ConnectedText these days, it might be called my "writing environment."

      Various quotes along the lines of "writing is thinking".

      What is the equivalent in oral societies? Memory is thinking?

    1. in Luhmann’s mind theprocess of writing things down enables disciplined thinking in the first place: “Underlying the filing tech-nique is the experience that without writing, there is no thinking.”22
      1. Luhmann, Zettelkasten II, index card no. 9/8g (my translation).

      The act of taking notes helps to focus the mind and one's concentration. This facilitates better and deeper thinking. While he erases oral cultures and those who used mnemonic techniques, Niklas Luhmann said, "without writing, there is no thinking."

  10. Dec 2021
    1. Wole Soyinka wrote “The Man Died” in a Nigerian prison with Nescafé for ink and a chicken bone for a stylus.
    2. Medium, a writing app that is also a publishing platform and a social-media network, represents the logical extreme of this vertical integration.

      Julian Lucas indicates that tools like Microsoft Word, WordStar, WordPerfect, and Google Docs, are writing tools which ultimately result into the vertical integration of Medium. The mistake here is that while they are certain tools and one can write into them and use them for editing, they are all probably best thought of as tools in the chain of moving toward publishing with Medium being the example that allows one to present their work as well as a distribution mechanism with a cheery on top.

      What she is not focusing enough (any?) attention on is the creation processes at the start. How does one come up with an interesting idea? How does one do the research? How does one collect ideas moving toward some teleological endpoint? Tools that address these ideas of invention and creation are the real writing tools that writers so elusively search out.

      Far better to look at note taking tools or tools like Hypothes.is that go to the roots of the creation process. Tools that can take fleeting ideas and collect them. Tools that can take those collections and interlink them. Tools that allow for combinatorial juxtaposition and rearrangement. Tools that allow outlining.

      It is only after this that one may use a tool like Microsoft Word to do the final arrangement, editing, and polish before sending it off to a publisher.

    3. 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.

    4. I’d fallen into the trap that the philosopher Jacques Derrida identified in an interview from the mid-nineties. “With the computer, everything is rapid and so easy,” he complained. “An interminable revision, an infinite analysis is already on the horizon.”

      This also ignores the context of a writing space that is optimized for the reading, thinking and writing process.

      Digital contexts often bring in a raft of other problems and issues that may provide too much.

    5. 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?


      • easy of use
      • efficiency
      • productivity
  11. Nov 2021
    1. "The Zettelkasten takes more of my time than the writing of books." —Niklas Luhmann (via vimeo.com/173128404)

      Some people complain about the amount of time that working in their zettelkasten or notes may take, and it may take a while, but it is exactly the actual work of creation that takes the longest. The rest of the process is just the copying over and editing.

  12. 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?

  13. Sep 2021
  14. 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?

  15. Jul 2021
    1. Ohne zu schreiben, kann man nicht denken; jedenfalls nicht in anspruchsvoller, anschlussfähiger Weise.

      You cannot think without writing; at least not in a sophisticated, connectable way. —Niklas Luhmann

      (Source of the original??)

      This is interesting, but is also ignorant of oral traditions which had means of addressing it.

  16. Jun 2021
    1. The way to do a piece of writing is three or four times over, never once. For me, the hardest part comes first, getting some-thing--anything--out in front of me. Sometimes in a nervous frenzy I just fling words as if I were flinging mud at a wall. Blurt out, heave out, babble out something--anything-as a first draft. With that, you have acf>ieved a sort of nucleus. Then, as you work it over and alter it, you begin to shape sentences that score higher with the ear and eye. Edit it again-top to bottom. The chances are that about now you'll be see-ing something that you are sort of eager for others to see. And all that takes time. What I have left out is the interstitial time. You finish that first awful blurt-ing, and then you put the thing aside. You get in your car and drive home. On the way, your mind is still knitting at the words. You think of a better way to say something, a good phrase to correct a . certain problem. Without the drafted version-if it did not exist-you obvi-ously would not be thinking of things that would improve it. In short, you may be actually writing only two or three hours a day, but your mind, in one way or another, is working on it twenty-four hours a day-yes, while you sleep-but only if some sort of draft or earlier ver-sion already exists. Until it exists, writ-ing has not really begun."

      Some solid advice not only for writing, but even thinking in general. Writing out your thoughts can help to sharpen and improve them.



  17. May 2021
    1. Ideas have a history, but so do the tools that lend disembodied ideas their material shape −− most commonly, text on a page. The text is produced with the help of writing tools such as pencil, typewriter, or computer keyboard, and of note-taking tools such as ledger, notebook, or mobile phone app. These tools themselves embody the merging of often very different histories. Lichtenberg’s notebooks are a good example, drawing as they do on mercantile bookkeeping, the humanist tradition of the commonplace book, and Pietist autobiographical writing (see Petra McGillen’s detailed analysis).

      I like the thought of not only the history of thoughts and ideas, but also the history of the tools that may have helped to make them.

      I'm curious to delve into Pietist autobiographical writing as a concept.

    2. As Friedrich Nietzsche famously conceded to his friend Heinrich Köselitz a century later, “You are right — our writing tools take part in the forming of our thoughts.”

      This is a fascinating quote and something I've thought about before. Ties to McLuhan's "the medium is the message" as well.

  18. Feb 2021
  19. Oct 2020
  20. Aug 2020
  21. Jan 2015