23 Matching Annotations
  1. Last 7 days
    1. On the Internet there are many collective projects where users interact only by modifying local parts of their shared virtual environment. Wikipedia is an example of this.[17][18] The massive structure of information available in a wiki,[19] or an open source software project such as the FreeBSD kernel[19] could be compared to a termite nest; one initial user leaves a seed of an idea (a mudball) which attracts other users who then build upon and modify this initial concept, eventually constructing an elaborate structure of connected thoughts.[20][21]

      Just as eusocial creatures like termites create pheromone infused mudballs which evolve into pillars, arches, chambers, etc., a single individual can maintain a collection of notes (a commonplace book, a zettelkasten) which contains memetic seeds of ideas (highly interesting to at least themselves). Working with this collection over time and continuing to add to it, modify it, link to it, and expand it will create a complex living community of thoughts and ideas.

      Over time this complexity involves to create new ideas, new structures, new insights.

      Allowing this pattern to move from a single person and note collection to multiple people and multiple collections will tend to compound this effect and accelerate it, particularly with digital tools and modern high speed communication methods.

      (Naturally the key is to prevent outside selfish interests from co-opting this behavior, eg. corporate social media.)

  2. Jul 2022
    1. Langlois, Charles-Victor / Seignobos, Charles (1898): Introduction to the Study of History. London

      Niklas Luhmann cites Langlois and Seignobos' Introduction to the Study of History (1898) at least once, so there's evidence that he read at least a portion of the book which outlines some portions of note taking practice that resemble portions of his zettelkasten method.

    1. Bernheim, Ernst. Lehrbuch der historischen Methode und der Geschichtsphilosophie: mit Nachweis der wichtigsten Quellen und Hilfsmittel zum Studium der Geschichte. Leipzig : Duncker & Humblot, 1908. http://archive.org/details/lehrbuchderhist03berngoog.

      Title translation: Textbook of the historical method and the philosophy of history : with reference to the most important sources and aids for the study of history

      A copy of the original 1889 copy can be found at https://digital.ub.uni-leipzig.de/mirador/index.php

    2. der Beschaffenheit des Themas und des Materials wird es oft_ praktisch sein, von sachlicher Ordnung abzusehen und nur dieHuGBerlich chronologische anzuwenden. Gerade dann ist es vongréBtem Wert, die Eintragungen auf lose Blu&tter zu machen,damit man dieselben nach den verschiedenen Gesichtspunktender Zusammengehirigkeit zeitweilig umordnen und dann wiederin die Grundordoung zurticklegen kann. Um die einzelnenNotizen leicht auffinden zu kinnen, ist es ratsam, die Datenoder Schlagwirter oben dartiberzuschreiben; und die Bl&tteroder Zettel miissen von nicht zu diinnem Papier sein, damitman sie schnell durchblattern kann.Soweit es sich um Abschriften ganzer Akten oder Nach-richten handelt, bedarf es keiner besonderen Erérterungen.Doch solche véllige Abschriften wird man nur machen, wo essich um archivalische Quellen oder entlegenere Drucke handelt,die man nicht so leicht wieder erreichen kann. Im tibrigenwird man sich mit Ausztigen und Notizen begniigen, welcheentweder das aus den Quellen ausheben, was fiir das Themain Betracht kommt, oder nur im allgemeinen auf die Quellen-stellen hinweisen. Im ersteren Falle kommt es darauf an, dasBrauchbare und Wichtige scharf zu erkennen und prizis zunotieren; im letzteren Falle mu8 die Hindeutung wenigstensderart prizisiert sein, daf8 man beim sp&teren Durchsehen derNotizen gleich ersieht, was in der betreffenden Quellenstellezu erwarten ist, und da® die Identit&t der Notiz mit dem Inhaltder Quellenstelle nicht zweifelhaft sein kann; bei Urkundenerfordert letzteres besondere Sorgfalt, da nicht selten iiber den-selben (tegenstand zur selben Zeit mehrere dhnliche Dokumenteausgestellt worden sind: man tut daher gut, die Identitét jedesStiickes durch Aufnotierung des Anfanges und Schlusses (In-cipit und Explicit) sicherzustellen, wobei zu bemerken ist, dafhier als Anfang und Schlu8 nicht die formelhaften Teile, diesogenannten Protokolle, welche eben als feststehende Formelnnicht fiir die einzelne Urkunde unterscheidend sind, gelten,sondern daf man Anfang und Schlu8 des individuellen Textesnotiert, eine Art der Bezeichnung, die allgemein bei den pupst-lichen Bullen angewandt wird, indem man von der Bulle Unamsanctam oder Ausculta fili usw. spricht.

      Je nach der Beschaffenheit des Themas und des Materials wird es oft praktisch sein, von sachlicher Ordnung abzusehen und nur die äußerlich chronologische anzuwenden. Gerade dann ist es von größtem Wert, die Eintragungen auf lose Blätter zu machen, damit man dieselben nach den verschiedenen Gesichtspunkten der Zusammengehörigkeit zeitweilig umordnen und dann wieder in die Grundordoung zurücklegen kann. Um die einzelnen Notizen leicht auffinden zu können, ist es ratsam, die Daten oder Schlagwörter oben darüberzuschreiben; und die Blätter oder Zettel müssen von nicht zu dünnem Papier sein, damit man sie schnell durchblättern kann.

      Soweit es sich um Abschriften ganzer Akten oder Nachrichten handelt, bedarf es keiner besonderen Erörterungen. Doch solche völlige Abschriften wird man nur machen, wo es sich um archivalische Quellen oder entlegenere Drucke handelt, die man nicht so leicht wieder erreichen kann. Im übrigen wird man sich mit Auszügen und Notizen begnügen, welche entweder das aus den Quellen ausheben, was für das Thema in Betracht kommt, oder nur im allgemeinen auf die Quellenstellen hinweisen. Im ersteren Falle kommt es darauf an, das Brauchbare und Wichtige scharf zu erkennen und präzis zu notieren; im letzteren Falle muß die Hindeutung wenigstens derart präzisiert sein, daß man beim späteren Durchsehen der Notizen gleich ersieht, was in der betreffenden Quellenstelle zu erwarten ist, und daß die Identität der Notiz mit dem Inhalt der Quellenstelle nicht zweifelhaft sein kann; bei Urkunden erfordert letzteres besondere Sorgfalt, da nicht selten über den-selben (tegenstand zur selben Zeit mehrere ähnliche Dokumente ausgestellt worden sind: man tut daher gut, die Identität jedes Stückes durch Aufnotierung des Anfanges und Schlusses (Incipit und Explicit) sicherzustellen, wobei zu bemerken ist, daf hier als Anfang und Schluß nicht die formelhaften Teile, die sogenannten Protokolle, welche eben als feststehende Formeln nicht für die einzelne Urkunde unterscheidend sind, gelten, sondern daß man Anfang und Schluß des individuellen Textes notiert, eine Art der Bezeichnung, die allgemein bei den päpstlichen Bullen angewandt wird, indem man von der Bulle Unam sanctam oder Ausculta fili usw. spricht.

      Google translation:

      Depending on the nature of the subject and the material, it will often be practical to dispense with factual order and use only the outwardly chronological one. It is precisely then that it is of the greatest value to make the entries on loose sheets of paper, so that they can be temporarily rearranged according to the various aspects of belonging together and then put back into the basic order. In order to be able to easily find the individual notes, it is advisable to write the dates or keywords above them; and the sheets or slips of paper must be of paper that is not too thin so that they can be leafed through quickly.

      As far as copies of entire files or messages are concerned, no special discussion is required. But such complete copies will only be made from archival sources or more remote prints that cannot easily be accessed again. For the rest, one will be content with excerpts and notes, which either extract from the sources what comes into consideration for the subject, or only refer to the sources in general. In the first case it is important to clearly recognize what is useful and important and to write it down precisely; in the latter case, the indication must at least be specified in such a way that, when looking through the notes later, one can immediately see what is to be expected in the relevant source and that the identity of the note with the content of the source cannot be in doubt; for certificates the latter requires special care, as it is not uncommon for same (te, several similar documents existed at the same time have been issued: one does therefore well, the identity of each piece by notating the beginning and end (Incipit and explicit), noting that here as beginning and end not the formulaic parts that so-called protocols, which are simply fixed formulas are not distinctive for the individual document, apply, but that one sees the beginning and end of the individual text noted, a form of designation commonly applied to the papal bulls, speaking of the bull Unam sanctam or Ausculta fili, etc.


      Continuing on in his advice on note taking, Bernheim tells us that notes on loose sheets of paper (presumably in contrast with the bound pages of a commonplace book or other types of notebooks), "can be temporarily rearranged according to the various aspects of belonging together and then put back into the basic order". He recommends giving them dates (presumably to be able to put them back into their temporal order), as well as keywords. He also suggest that "the sheets or slips of paper must be of paper that is not too thin so that they can be leafed through quickly." (translated from German)

      Note that he doesn't specify the exact size of the paper (at least not in this general section) other than to specify either "die Blätter oder Zettel" (sheets or slips) . Other practices may be more indicative of the paper size he may have had in mind. Are his own papers extant? Might those have an indication of his own personal practice as it may have differed from his published advice?

  3. Jun 2022
    1. Before we begin, please note that this piece assumes intermediate familiarity with Zettelkasten and its original creator, the social scientist Niklas Luhmann (1927–1998).

      Even the long running (2013) zettelkasten.de website credits Niklas Luhmann as being the "original creator" of the zettelkasten.

      sigh

      We really need to track down the origin of linking one idea to another. Obviously writers, and especially novelists, would have had some sort of at least linear order in their writing due to narrative needs in using such a system. What does this tradition look like on the non-fiction side?

      Certainly some of the puzzle stems from the commonplace book tradition, but this is more likely to have relied on natural memory as well as searching and finding via index methods.

      Perhaps looking more closely at Hans Blumenberg's instantiation would be more helpful. Similarly looking at the work of Claude Lévi-Strauss and his predecessors like Marcel Mauss may provide at least an attack on this problem.

      My working hypothesis is that given the history of the Viennese numbering system, it may have stemmed from the late 1700s and this certainly wasn't an innovation by Luhmann.

      link to: https://hyp.is/hLy7NNtqEeuWQIP1UDkM6g/web.archive.org/web/20130916081433/https://christiantietze.de/posts/2013/06/zettelkasten-improves-thinking-writing/ for evidence of start of zettelkasten.de

  4. May 2022
    1. https://www.otherlife.co/pkm/

      The PKM space has gotten crazy, but mostly through bad practice, lack of history, and hype. There are a few valid points I see mirrored here, but on the whole this piece is broadly off base due to a lack of proper experience, practice and study. I definitely would recommend he take a paid course to fix the issue, but delve more deeply into recommended historical practices.

    2. Many writers have devised lots of little systems, and the fact that everyone into PKM mentions this one guy supports my argument. What percentage of history's greatest and most prolific writers did not use a Zettelkasten? More than 99%, probably. Luhmann is an exception that proves the rule.

      There is a heavy availability heuristic at play here. Most people in the recent/modern PKM space are enamored with the idea of zettelkasten and no one (or very few) have delved in more deeply to the history to uncover more than Luhmann. There definitely are many, many more. If we expand the circle to include looser forms like the commonplace book then we find that nearly every major thinker since the Renaissance kept some sort of note taking system and it's highly likely that their work was heavily influenced by their notes, notebooks, and commonplace books.

      Hell, Newton invented the calculus in his waste book, a form of pre-commonplace book from which he apparently never got his temporary notes out into a more personal permanent form.

      A short trip to even the scant references on the Wikipedia pages for commonplace book and zettelkasten will reveal a fraction of the extant examples.

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

  5. Feb 2022
    1. Iwonder how long it will take until the advantages of Luhmann’s slip-box and work routines become equally obvious to everyone. But bythen, everyone will already have known it all along the way.

      Ahrens focuses almost exclusively on Niklas Luhmann in his book How to Take Smart Notes. Sadly he misses that many others used not only the zettelkasten but other closely similar techniques including the commonplace book as a means of knowledge gathering and productivity.

      There are thousands of productive researchers and writers who have broadly used many of these techniques to great advantage. In fact, it's almost hard to find famous writers or thinkers in the early Renaissance or since who did not use these systems.

      Certainly Luhmann's system was one of the most refined of the group and his success is heavily underlined by his gargantuan output, but by not highlight other users of these systems, we're missing a lot more of the power of these systems.

  6. Jan 2022
    1. https://warburg.library.cornell.edu/about/mnemosyne-themes

      Looking at the broad themes here makes me wonder if they line up potentially with the larger groups of cards in Warburg's zettelkasten?

      While the non-discursive, frequently digressive character of the Atlas frustrates any smooth critical narrative of its themes and contents, nine thematic sequences may still be discerned:

      The ideas of non-discursive, digressive, and frustrated narrative could easily be applied to a stranger approaching another person's collection of notes.

  7. Dec 2021
    1. Possibility of linking (Verweisungsmöglichkeiten). Since all papers have fixed numbers, you can add as many references to them as you may want. Central concepts can have many links which show on which other contexts we can find materials relevant for them.

      Continuing on the analogy between addresses for zettels/index cards and for people, the differing contexts for cards and ideas is similar to the multiple different publics in which people operate (home, work, school, church, etc.)

      Having these multiple publics creates a variety of cross links within various networks for people which makes their internal knowledge and relationships more valuable.

      As societies grow the number of potential interconnections grows as well. Compounding things the society doesn't grow as a homogeneous whole but smaller sub-groups appear creating new and different publics for each member of the society. This is sure to create a much larger and much more complex system. Perhaps it's part of the beneficial piece of the human limit of memory of inter-personal connections (the Dunbar number) means that instead of spending time linearly with those physically closest to us, we travel further out into other spheres and by doing so, we dramatically increase the complexity of our societies.

      Does this level of complexity change for oral societies in pre-agrarian contexts?


      What would this look like mathematically and combinatorially? How does this effect the size and complexity of the system?


      How can we connect this to Stuart Kauffman's ideas on complexity? (Picking up a single thread creates a network by itself...)

    1. In § 3, I explain that to have a life of its own, a card index must be provid-ed with self-referential closure.

      In order to become a free-standing tool, the card index needed to have self-referential closure.

      This may have been one of the necessary steps for the early ideas behind computers. In addition to the idea of a clockwork universe, the index card may have been a step towards early efforts at creating the modern computer.

    1. In 1653, Georg Philipp Harsd ö rffer completes the idea of an excerpt collection as an ordering of paper slips in a box with twenty-four drawers in alphabetical order.

      Georg Philipp Harsdörffer, in 1653, completes the basic idea of an excerpt collection as an ordering of paper slips in a physical box in alphabetic order.

    2. De Arte Excerpendi: Of Scholarly Book Organization by Vincen-tius Placcius. It offers an overview of contemporary procedures, instruc-tions on regular excerpting, and an extensive history of the subject. Placcius expressly warns against a loose form of indexing as pursued by Jungius. 38
      1. Placcius 1689, p. 72.

      Vincentius Placcius in De Arte Excerpendi: Of Scholarly Book Organization (1689) offers a contemporary set of instructions on excerpting knowledge as well as a history of the subject.

      In the book, he warns specifically against the loose form of indexing exhibited by Joachim Jungius. (p72)

  8. Nov 2021
    1. Antonin Sertillanges' book The Intellectual Life is published in 1918 in which he outlines in chapter 7 the broad strokes a version of the zettelkasten method, though writing in French he doesn't use the German name or give the method a specific name.[11] The book was published in French, Italian, and English in more than 50 editions over the span of 40 years. In it, Sertillanges recommends taking notes on slips of "strong paper of a uniform size" either self made with a paper cutter or by "special firms that will spare you the trouble, providing slips of every size and color as well as the necessary boxes and accessories." He also recommends a "certain number of tagged slips, guide-cards, so as to number each category visibly after having numbered each slip, in the corner or in the middle." He goes on to suggest creating a catalog or index of subjects with division and subdivisions and recommends the "very ingenious system", the decimal system, for organizing one's research. For the details of this refers the reader to Organization of intellectual work: practical recipes for use by students of all faculties and workers by Paul Chavigny [fr][12]. Sertillanges recommends against the previous patterns seen with commonplace books where one does note taking in books or on slips of paper which might be pasted into books as they don't "easily allow classification" or "readily lend themselves to use at the moment of writing."

      [[Antonin Sertillanges]]' book ''The Intellectual Life'' is published in 1918 in which he outlines in chapter 7 the broad strokes a version of the zettelkasten method, though writing in French he doesn't use the German name or give the method a specific name.<ref>{{cite book |last1=Antonin |first1=Sertillanges |author-link1= Antonin_Sertillanges |title=The Intellectual Life: Its Sprit, Conditions, Methods |date=1960 |publisher=The Newman Press |location=Westminster, Maryland |translator-last1= Ryan |translator-first1= Mary |translator-link1= |pages=186-198 |edition=fifth printing |language=English}}</ref> The book was published in French, Italian, and English in more than 50 editions over the span of 40 years. In it, Sertillanges recommends taking notes on slips of "strong paper of a uniform size" either self made with a paper cutter or by "special firms that will spare you the trouble, providing slips of every size and color as well as the necessary boxes and accessories." He also recommends a "certain number of tagged slips, guide-cards, so as to number each category visibly after having numbered each slip, in the corner or in the middle." He goes on to suggest creating a catalog or index of subjects with division and subdivisions and recommends the "very ingenious system", the decimal system, for organizing one's research. For the details of this refers the reader to ''Organization of intellectual work: practical recipes for use by students of all faculties and workers'' by {{interlanguage link|Paul Chavigny|fr}}<ref>{{cite book |last1=Chavigny |first1=Paul |title=Organisation du travail intellectuel: recettes pratiques à l'usage des étudiants de toutes les facultés et de tous les travailleurs |date=1918 |publisher=Delagrave |language=French}}</ref>. Sertillanges recommends against the previous patterns seen with commonplace books where one does note taking in books or on slips of paper which might be pasted into books as they don't "easily allow classification" or "readily lend themselves to use at the moment of writing."

  9. Aug 2021
    1. The impactof such practices upon eighteenth-century visual and material culture is recounted in te Heesen, The World in a Box.

      This reference appears to show some of the historical link between the method of loci in rhetoric with that of commonplacing ideas within books. The fact that the word box may suggest some relational link between commonplacing and zettelkasten.

    1. This blogpost by Manfred Kuehn is one of the earliest posts about Zettelkasten I've seen referenced on the early web. It dates from 2007-12-16.

    1. Hesperides, or The Muses’ Garden. Hao Tianhu, “Hesperides, or the Muses’Gardenand its Manuscript History,”Library10(2009),372–404, convincinglyunpacks the complicated history ofHesperides, a manuscript commonplacebook of thousands of passages of contemporary verse and prose extractsarranged alphabetically under headings which exists in two extant versions:Folger Shakespeare Library, MS V.b.93(compiled c.1654–66) and a secondversion based on the former that was prepared for print in1655–65but neverprinted, was cut up in the nineteenth century by James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps, and now exists in three Folger manuscripts and seventy scrapbooksat the Shakespeare Centre Library in Statford-upon-Avon. Gunnar Sorelius,“An Unknown Shakespearian Commonplace Book,”Library28(1973),294–308, demonstrates that the source of the Shakespeare quotations cut andpasted into over sixty of Halliwell-Phillipps’ Shakespearean scrapbooks was amanuscript that also once contained the now-fragmentary Folger MSSV.a.75,79, and80, and argues that the manuscript is valuable for the light itsheds on seventeenth-century taste and on how a reader spontaneously editedShakespeare. Beal (III, E), vol.1, part2(1980), p.450, discovered thecompiler’s identity (John Evans), an entry in the Stationers’ Register for1655and an advertisement of1659indicating thatHesperideswas to be publishedby Humphrey Moseley (though it never was), and the existence of FolgerMS V.b.93.

      This provides evidence and at least a date for the idea of cutting up books into scraps and then rearranging them to create a commonplace. Where does this fit into the continuum on the evolution of the zettelkasten idea?

      How was this rearrangement physically done besides the cutting up of pieces? Were they pasted in? Clipped? other?

  10. Jun 2021
    1. The introduction could use a referrent to prior examples across history from commonplace books, florilegium, waste books, etc. This general idea has been used for centuries (and is even seen in oral societies before literacy).

      Including a few examples of people who've used the method/ideas before and how it was successful for them could be both useful as well as highly motivating.

  11. May 2021