344 Matching Annotations
  1. Last 7 days
    1. A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.

      His definition of a Memex is simply a mechanized (or what we would now call digitized) commonplace book, which has a long history in the literature of knowledge management.


      I'll note here that he's somehow still stuck on the mechanical engineering idea of mechanized. Despite the fact that he was the advisor to Claude Shannon, father of the digital revolution, he is still thinking in terms of mechanical pipes, levers, and fluids. He literally had Shannon building a computer out of pipes and fluid while he was a student at MIT.

    1. This gave me an epiphany — a grand vision of the future of social reading. I imagined a stack of transparent, margin-size plastic strips containing all of my notes from “Infinite Jest.” These, I thought, could be passed out to my friends, who would paste them into their own copies of the book and then, in turn, give me their marginalia strips, which I would paste into my copy, and we’d all have a big virtual orgy of never-ending literary communion.It was a hopelessly clunky idea: a vision right out of a Library Science seminar circa 1949.

      Goofy as this physical version sounds, I could imagine a digital overlay version that could go along with digital books in much the same way that Google Maps has digital overlays.

      The problem lies with registration and location of words to do the overlay properly. The UI would also be a major bear.

      Hypothes.is has really done a spectacular job in their version, the only issue is that it requires doing it all in a browser and isn't easily usable in any e-readers.

    2. Yet books are curious objects: their strength is to be both intensely private and intensely social — and marginalia is a natural bridge between these two states.

      Books represent a dichotomy in being both intensely private and intensely social at the same time.

      Are there other objects that have this property?

      Books also have the quality of providing people with identities.

    3. As John Dickerson recently put it on Slate, describing his attempt to annotate books on an iPad: “It’s like eating candy through a wrapper.”

      [[similies]]

    4. The author argued that you didn’t truly own a book (spiritually, intellectually) until you had marked it up.

      sentiment from “How to Read a Book.”

      Pull out the original quote of this.


      Note also that [[Mortimer J. Adler]] is saying this in a time period where books are far cheaper than in the past. An author from a few generations prior would have indicated that the quotes and marginalia should have gone in one's commonplace book.

    1. "In the event of a fire, the black-bound excerpts are to be saved first," instructed the poet Jean Paul to his wife before setting off on a trip in 1812.

      Writer Jean Paul on the importance of his Zettelkasten.

    1. Reflecting on how new digital tools have re-invigorated annotation and contributed to the creation of their recent book, they suggest annotation presents a vital means by which academics can re-engage with each other and the wider world.

      I've been seeing some of this in the digital gardening space online. People are actively hosting their annotations, thoughts, and ideas, almost as personal wikis.

      Some are using RSS and other feeds as well as Webmention notifications so that these notebooks can communicate with each other in a realization of Vanmevar Bush's dream.

      Networked academic samizdat anyone?

  2. Jun 2021
  3. May 2021
    1. After suggestions from comments below, I read A Philosophy of Software Design (2018) by John Ousterhout and found it to be a much more positive experience. I would be happy to recommend it over Clean Code.

      The author recommends A Philosophy of Software Design over Clean Code

    1. Gwern.net was one of the earliest and most consistent gardeners to offer meta-reflections on their work. Each entry comes with:topic tagsstart and end datea stage tag: draft, in progress, or finisheda certainty tag: impossible, unlikely, certain, etc.1-10 importance tagThese are all explained in their website guide, which is worth reading if you're designing your own epistemological system.
    2. In performance-blog-land you do that thinking and researching privately, then shove it out at the final moment. A grand flourish that hides the process.

      This generally doesn't happen with IndieWeb-based sites where one often publishes all the smaller tidbits along the way and intersperses them with the longer articles.

      Of course, not everyone here necessarily publishes everything publicly either.

    1. he is focusing on the tensions that what he read causes with other things he knows and has read. He’s not just lifting things out that chime with him, but the things that cause friction. Because in that friction lies the potential of learning.

      Dissonance of juxtaposed ideas, and particularly those just at the edge of chaos, can be some of the most fruitful places for learning.

      Attempting to resolve these frictions can generate new knowledge.

      This is what commonplace books are meant to do. Record this knowledge, allow one to juxtapose, and to think and write into new spaces.

      It's also important to look more closely at things that don't cause dissonance. Is it general wisdom that makes them true or seem true? Question the assumptions underneath them. Where do they come from? Why do they seem comfortable? How could one make them uncomfortable. Questioning assumptions can lead to new pathways.

      An example of this is the questioning the final assumption of Euclid (the "ugly" one) which led mathematicians into different geometry systems.

    1. Your new home on the web

      Understory is a digital garden, a micro-publishing space for you to plant the seeds of your ideas and grow them into bi-directionally linked web portals.

      via IndieWeb Chat

    1. With some continued clever searching today along with some help from an expert in Elizabethan English, I've found an online version of Robert Copland's (poor) translation from the French, some notes, and a few resources for assisting in reading it for those who need the help.

      The text:

      This is a free text transcription and will be easier to read than the original black-letter Elizabethan English version.

      For those without the background in Elizabethan English, here are a few tips/hints:

      For the more obscure/non-obvious words:

      Finally, keep in mind that the letter "y" can often be a printer's substitution for the English thorn character) Þ, so you'll often see the abbreviations for "the" and as an abbreviation for "that".

      Copland's original English, first printing of Ravenna can be accessed electronically through a paid Proquest account at most universities. It is listed as STC 24112 if you have access to a firewall-free site that lets you look at books on Early English Books Online (EEBO). A photocopy can be obtained through EEBO reprints on Amazon. Unless you've got some reasonable experience with Elizabethan black-latter typography, expect this version to be hard to read. It isn't annotated or modernized.

      @ehcolston I'm curious to hear what the Wilson/Pena text looks like. I'm guessing it's not scholarly. I think Wilson is a recent college grad and is/was a publishing intern at a company in the LA Area. I'm not sure of Pena's background. I suspect it may be a version of the transcribed text I've linked with a modest updating of the middle English which they've self-published on Amazon.

      Of course, given the multiple translations here, if anyone is aware of a more solid translation of the original Latin text into English, do let us know. The careful observer will notice that the Latin version is the longest, the French quite a bit shorter, and the English (Copland) incredibly short, so there appears to be some untranslated material in there somewhere.

    1. MMScotofGlasgow

      @MMScotofGlasgow, Hopefully it's not too late...

      Francis Yates discusses Petrus Ramus as an educational reformer in Chapter 10 and onward in The Art of Memory. There she outlines Ramus' crusade against images (based in part on the admonition from 4 Deuteronomy about graven images) and on their prurient use (sex, violence, etc.) which were meant to make things more memorable. Ramism caught on in the late 1500's and essentially removed memory by the root from the subject of rhetoric of which it had been an integral part. Ramus felt that structure and rote memorization would suffice in its stead. As a result the method of loci decreased in prominence in schools and disappeared from the scene based on educational reform which was primarily pushed by Huguenot/Protestants. I've not read anywhere that the practice was ever banned, it just fell out of fashion due to these reforms.

      I'm sure it didn't help that printed books became ever cheaper during/after this time and so the prior need to memorize for those reasons wasn't helped either.

      I'm sure another confounding factor was Erasmus' Copia: Foundations of the Abundant Style (1512) which dramatically popularized the keeping and use of commonplace books by the learned and literate. These became a regular place in which people collected and kept their thoughts and ideas rather than memorizing them as they may have done in the past.

  4. commonplace.knowledgefutures.org commonplace.knowledgefutures.org
    1. This almost appears to be a small, community-based commonplace book.

      And apparently published on PubPub.

      <small><cite class='h-cite via'> <span class='p-author h-card'>Samuel Klein</span> in Samuel Klein on Twitter: "@flancian See also https://t.co/KMmU7pDuQx" / Twitter (<time class='dt-published'>05/18/2021 19:30:42</time>)</cite></small>

    1. One of the toughest parts of note taking systems can be moving from one to another, particularly digital ones, as the technical overhead is almost never easy and typically requires a huge amount of work. Wouter's description here may seem facile, but I'm sure it wasn't simple, not to mention the fact that he's got more facility with coding than the average person ever will.

      I do like the idea of basic text or markdown files that can be used in a variety of settings with relatively easy wiki mark up.

      Of the systems I've seen, this seems to be the most portable format, but it also requires software that supports it at the base level, but which still provides search and other useful functionalities.

    1. A relatively comprehensive view of Wouter Groeneveld's commonplacing workflow. There are a few bits missing here and there, but he's got most of the bigger basics down that a majority of people seem to have found and discovered.

      He's got a strong concept of indexing, search, and even some review, which many miss. There's some organic work toward combinatorial thought, but only via the search piece.

      I should make a list of the important pieces for more advanced versions to have. I've yet to see any articles or work on this.

    2. My wife taught me to add some color after some pages are filled and the more I do that, the more I like browsing through the journal. Watercolor is still too heavy for most notebooks and I don’t bother to bring colored pencils on location. That’s a relaxing activity to do at home.

      Color also adds creativity and additional loci to one's pages which also can help to make them more memorable.

    3. It does take a while to look at the scanned image to figure out where exactly I placed that particular piece of information - that’s one downside of the system. But as I journal “organically”, meaning putting everything in the same place from pictures to drawings, my brain can find what I need on the scan pretty quickly, compared to pages full of text between lines.

      This may not be as bad a thing as needing to reread a short section is also good for creating context of the original note as well as review for memory and retention.

    4. “but I how will I be able to find stuff later on?”. Good question we’ll answer later. A part of the answer is simply by re-reading. If you don’t re-read what you’ve written, nothing will ever happen with it. So, if you intent to simply write down thoughts in order to feel a temporary moment of relief, fine. But if you intent to change your life, that won’t suffice.

      One needs to re-read and reprocess things from time to time. This is a part of the combinatorial creativity that having notes is for.

      This is reminiscent of the CAA addage: "If you read something and then don't tell anyone about it, you may as well not have read it in the first place."

    1. My website is adactio.com. I love my website. Even though it isn’t a physical thing, I think it might be my most prized possession. It’s a place for me to think and a place for me to link.

      a stark statement to make about one's website

    1. For almost a decade from ~1988 I kept my reading & research commonplace book in Persoft's IZE, a DOS textbase -- orphaned all too soon -- that did simple but very useful things with keywords presented in an indented hierarchy. The more entries and keywords I gave it, the more the hierarchies took on increasingly interesting and suggestive sequences; i.e. they looked more like *outlines.* IZE seemed to understand the content of the passages.

      Noting that the idea of commonplace book appears here in the comments.

    2. The other thing that would be fascinating would be to open up these personal libraries to the external world. That would be a lovely combination of old-fashioned book-based wisdom, advanced semantic search technology, and the personality-driven filters that we've come to enjoy in the blogosphere. I can imagine someone sitting down to write an article about complexity theory and the web, and saying, "I bet Johnson's got some good material on this in his 'library.'" (You wouldn't be able to pull down the entire database, just query it, so there wouldn't be any potential for intellectual property abuse.) I can imagine saying to myself: "I have to write this essay on taxonomies, so I'd better sift through Weinberger's library, and that chapter about power laws won't be complete without a visit to Shirky's database."

      He's got a nice conceptualization here of a networked version of commonplace books for search and creation for one's own commonplace book.

    3. So the proper unit for this kind of exploratory, semantic search is not the file, but rather something else, something I don't quite have a word for: a chunk or cluster of text, something close to those little quotes that I've assembled in DevonThink. If I have an eBook of Manual DeLanda's on my hard drive, and I search for "urban ecosystem" I don't want the software to tell me that an entire book is related to my query. I want the software to tell me that these five separate paragraphs from this book are relevant. Until the tools can break out those smaller units on their own, I'll still be assembling my research library by hand in DevonThink.

      Search on documents returning something in the neighborhood of 500 words or so seems to be the right amount of information. One wants a few paragraphs related to an idea and not an entire book which takes longer to scan.

      Google search does this type of search and it's also what Google Books attempts to do as well when searching specifically there.

    4. Over the past few years of working with this approach, I've learned a few key principles. The system works for three reasons: 1) The DevonThink software does a great job at making semantic connections between documents based on word frequency. 2) I have pre-filtered the results by selecting quotes that interest me, and by archiving my own prose. The signal-to-noise ratio is so high because I've eliminated 99% of the noise on my own. 3) Most of the entries are in a sweet spot where length is concerned: between 50 and 500 words. If I had whole eBooks in there, instead of little clips of text, the tool would be useless.

      Stephen Johnson describes the reasons he thinks his DevonThink writing process works with semantic search.

    1. Compare that to the traditional way of exploring your files, where the computer is like a dutiful, but dumb, butler: "Find me that document about the chimpanzees!" That's searching. The other feels different, so different that we don't quite have a verb for it: it's riffing, or brainstorming, or exploring. There are false starts and red herrings, to be sure, but there are just as many happy accidents and unexpected discoveries. Indeed, the fuzziness of the results is part of what makes the software so powerful.

      What is the best word/verb for this sort of pseudo-searching via word or idea association for generating new ideas?

      I've used the related phrase combinatorial thought before, but he's also using the idea of artificial intelligence to search/find and juxtapose these ideas.

    2. But I'm not at all confident I would have made the initial connection without the help of the software. The idea was a true collaboration, two very different kinds of intelligence playing off each other, one carbon-based, the other silicon.

      Stephen Johnson uses the word collaboration to describe his interaction with his own notes in DevonThink, much the way Niklas Luhmann describes with working with his Zettlekasten.

      I'll also note that here in 2005, Johnson doesn't mention the idea of a commonplace book the way he does just a few years later.

    1. An interesting take from a significant modern researcher/writer about commonplaces in the digital era. He's particularly enamoured of the fact that Evernote dovetails with Google searches to show details from his own notebooks which he's saved in the past.

      Search in commonplace books is definitely a must have feature.

    1. The top starts out with some interesting articles in the past two decades and then delves into the writer's personal use of Evernote to create his digital commonplace book.

      Mildly interesting as a particular example.

    2. (dig into his process at his personal site
    1. We still do not understand how information practices from the worlds of learning, finance, industry, and administration cross-pollinated. From the fourteenth century onward, accountants developed complex instructions for note-taking to describe holdings and transactions, as well for the recording of numbers and calculations. By the seventeenth century, merchants, and indeed ship captains, engineers, and state administrators, were known to travel with trunks of memoranda, massive inventories, scrap books, and various ledgers and log books that mixed descriptive notes and numbers. By the eighteenth century, tables and printed forms cut down on the need for notes and required less description and more systematic numerical notes. Notaries also were master information handlers, creating archives for their legal and financial documents and cross-referencing catalogue systems.

      I'm noticing no mention here of double entry book keeping or the accountant's idea of waste books.

      There's also no mention of orality or memory methods either.

    2. As the erudite Samuel Hartlib explained in 1641, “Zwinger made his excerpta by being using [sic] of old books and tearing whole leaves out of them, otherwise it had beene impossible to have written so much if every thing should have beene written or copied out.”

      And to think of how I complain about how hard it is to excerpt notes from sources and get them into my own personal commonplace book?!

      Makes me wonder who the inventor of the first cut and paste was?

    3. Ideally, skilled readers organized notes into personal “arks of study,” or data chests. Vincent Placcius’s De arte excerpendi contains an engraving of a note cabinet, or scrinia literaria, in which notes are attached to hooks and hung on bars according to thematic organization, as well as various drawers for the storage of note paper, hooks, and possibly writing supplies. Both Placcius and later Leibniz built such contraptions, though none survives today. While these organizational tools cannot be directly linked to modern computers, it is difficult not to compare them. Placcius’s design looks strikingly like the old punch-card computation machines that date from the 1880s, and the first mainframes, such as the 1962 IBM 7090.

      "arks of study" being used as early data chests or stores is a fascinating conceptualization

    4. Jesuit manuals such as Jeremias Drexel’s Aurifodina, subtitled The Mine of All Arts and Sciences, or the Habit of Excerpting, explained how to best take notes from reading to create commonplace books: personal notebooks of reading extracts that contained the religious, ethical, and political maxims deemed necessary to lead a good life. There were even admonitions about which texts not to read and how not to fold page corners or to mark texts with fingernail scratches.

      Fascinating to see that practices like folding page corners and marking texts are far from new.

    5. Ulisse Aldrovandi, the great Bolognese natural philosopher and collector of specimens (such as the large lizards that adorn his university library museum), wrote four hundred volumes of manuscript notes. Joachim Jungius, a German professor of mathematics, medicine, logic, and natural philosophy, was famous for having produced an estimated 150,000 pages of notes. But as Blair makes clear, the vast collections of scientific notes were not simply the mad scratchings of obsessive pedants. Commonplace notes comprised the data for internationally successful scientific works, such as Jean Bodin’s Universae naturae theatrum.

      Examples of significant collections of notes.

    6. To extract knowledge successfully from reading was to “deflower” a book, as explained by the preface to the twelfth-century Libri deflorationum.

      Libri deflorationum

    7. Blair’s previous work demonstrated that the practices of literary reading and writing were central to the rise of scientific method. Focusing on the lawyer and scientist Jean Bodin in the sixteenth century, she meticulously examined how Bodin collected commonplace reading notes and then stored and analyzed them as scientific evidence.

      I really do need to create a historical timeline for commonplace books already.

      Georg Christoph Lichtenberg also did this in the late 1700's and became famous for it after his death and the publication of his Waste Books. Worth looking into who his influences may have been?

    8. But in response there has been no serious attempt by digital media developers to engage in a constructive public dialogue with historians of information and leading librarians. There is, perhaps, a reason for this. As Geoffrey Nunberg starkly revealed in 2009 in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Google cannot celebrate the history of indexing and cataloguing because it would draw attention to its matrix of errors. As of yet, Google Books does not work as an accurate system of cataloguing and searching for books. Nunberg showed that the seemingly clunky nineteenth-century Library of Congress Classification system is still more accurate. So intellectual history can still offer practical models and lessons to the titans of the Web.

      The Information emperor has no clothes.

    1. That’s not the only inversion that blogging entails. When it comes to a (my) blogging method for writing longer, more synthetic work, the traditional relationship between research and writing is reversed. Traditionally, a writer identifies a subject of interest and researches it, then writes about it. In the (my) blogging method, the writer blogs about everything that seems interesting, until a subject gels out of all of those disparate, short pieces.Blogging isn’t just a way to organize your research — it’s a way to do research for a book or essay or story or speech you don’t even know you want to write yet. It’s a way to discover what your future books and essays and stories and speeches will be about.

      This is also roughly the way that zettelkasten and commonplace books have worked for centuries.

      This passage is an excellent reason for "why" to keep one, which few sources I've seen bother to mention.

    2. The auctorial equivalent to the artist’s sketchbook is the “commonplace book,” which can contain everything from newspaper clippings to grocery lists to attempts to capture those inspirational bolts out of the blue.

      This is a great analogy for a commonplace book

    1. The book is indestructible.
    2. When you have read the book, you will be full members of the Brotherhood.
    3. he had even (an infallible mark of good reputation) been picked out to work in Pornosec, the sub-section of the Fiction Department which turned out cheap pornography for distribution among the proles.
    4. he could describe the whole process of composing a novel, from the general directive issued by the Planning Committee down to the final touching-up by the Rewrite Squad. But she was not interested in the finished product. She 'didn't much care for reading,' she said. Books were just a commodity that had to be produced, like jam or bootlaces.

      What does this tell us about Julia? Very meta.

    1. Above you can browse Leonard Eckstein Opdycke’s 1902 translation of Il Cortegiano. While the book was first translated into English by Thomas Hoby in 1561, and again in 1727, Opdycke’s effort arose from the scarcity of copies available at the century’s turn.

      What other translations of Il Cortegiano exist?

      Is there a truly handsome volume of it currently in print?

    1. Two hundred years later, Blumenberg’s note cards, each of them number-stamped by him and thus carrying along a trace of their temporal order of origin, could be moved and rearranged continuously in ways that weren’t open to the entries confined to the bound pages of Lichtenberg’s books. Blumenberg relied on the new connections and constellations generated within his Zettelkasten throughout his life as a writer.

      Another major example of a significant zettelkasten.

    2. “If only I had channels in my head,” Lichtenberg had fantasized, “so as to promote domestic trade between the stockpiles of my thought! But alas, there they lie by the hundreds without being of use to one another.”

      A fascinating quote in the history of the commonplace book on it's way to becoming the Memex.

    3. “penny’s worth of thought” as Lichtenberg had called his entries

      a good name for entries in a commonplace

    4. Merchants have their waste book, Sudelbuch or Klitterbuch in German I believe, in which they list all that they have sold or bought every single day, everything as it comes and in no particular order. The waste book’s content is then transferred to the Journal in a more systematic fashion, and at last it ends up in the “Leidger [sic] at double entrance,” following the Italian way of bookkeeping. […] This is a process worthy of imitation by the learned.”(See Ulrich Joost’s analysis in this volume, 24-35.)

      I've seen this quote earlier today, but interesting seeing another source quote it.

    5. Ruminant machines: a twentieth-century episode in the material history of ideas

      ruminant machines is an interesting concept, it sounds like a cross between a cow and Memex.

    1. Arthur Schopenhauer admired Lichtenberg greatly for what he had written in his notebooks. He called him one of those who "think ... for their own instruction", who are "genuine 'thinkers for themselves' in both senses of the words".[4] Other admirers of Lichtenberg's notebooks include Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Jacques Barzun.

      It would almost have to be the case that with his method and notebooks being so well known that they influenced Niklas Luhmann's idea of a zettelkasten.

    2. The scrapbooks reveal a critical and analytical way of thinking and emphasis on experimental evidence in physics, through which he became one of the early founders and advocates of modern scientific methodology. The more experience and experiments are accumulated during the exploration of nature, the more faltering its theories become. It is always good though not to abandon them instantly. For every hypothesis which used to be good at least serves the purpose of duly summarizing and keeping all phenomena until its own time. One should lay down the conflicting experience separately, until it has accumulated sufficiently to justify the efforts necessary to edifice a new theory. (Lichtenberg: scrapbook JII/1602)

      Georg Christoph Lichtenberg used his notebooks as thinking tools with respect to scientific methodology.

    1. Lichtenberg, on the other hand, used the term "aphorism" in his notes, but never referred to it in his own writing. [7] The name Sudelbuch goes back to him, as his brother Ludwig Christian Lichtenberg noted in the "preliminary report" for the first edition of a selection of Lichtenberg's notes the year after his death . [8] And there was already reference to Lichtenberg's own explanation of the use of the term: [9] “The merchants have their waste book (Sudelbuch, Klitterbuch, I believe in German), in which they enter everything they sell and buy from day to day, everything in a mess, from this it is carried into the journal, where everything is more systematically stands, and finally it comes to the Leidger at double entrance according to the Italian way of bookkeeping. In this, each man is accounted for separately, first as a debtor and then as a creditor. This deserves to be imitated by scholars. First a book in which I write everything, as I see it or as my thoughts give me, then this can be carried back into another, where the matter is more separated and ordered, - Georg Christoph Lichtenberg : Sudelbuch E, entry 46 [10]

      Here's translated quote from the 1700's in which Georg Christoph Lichtenberg directly links the idea of double-entry bookkeeping to the idea of a commonplace book (or waste book or in his tongue Sudelbücher).

      Not to dissimilar to my recent observation:

      Backlinks in digital gardens, commonplace books, or wikis are just an abstract extension of the accounting concept of double-entry bookkeeping.

    1. Waste books were also used in the tradition of the commonplace book. A well know example is Isaac Newton's Waste Book in which he did much of the development of the calculus.[4] Another example is that of Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, who called his waste books sudelbücher, and which were known to have influenced Leo Tolstoy, Albert Einstein, Andre Breton, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Ludwig Wittgenstein.[

      I added this section.

    2. I've heard references of people using these in combination with or also for commonplace books.

    1. Newton's Waste Book (MS Add. 4004) The most cherished legacy that Newton received from his stepfather, Barnabas Smith (1582-1653), seems to have been this vast manuscript commonplace book Add. 4004. Smith was rector of North Witham, a wealthy clergyman who married Newton’s mother on 27 January 1646. The immediate consequence of this union was that the three-year old Isaac Newton had to be sent to live with his grandmother. On Smith’s death, Newton appears to have inherited his library, most of which he gave away much later in life to a kinsman in Grantham. Smith himself had made extensive use of these books, in compiling a volume of theological commonplaces. This consisted of hundreds of folios bound in pasteboard, ruled at the top and in the margin of each folio to allow space for a heading and references to each entry. Newton was not interested by the very pedestrian efforts in divinity, largely the culling of quotations, with which Smith had begun to fill the book since its inception on 12 May 1612. He wanted its paper, as the title that he wrote on its original cover in February 1664 (‘Waste Book’) suggested.

      Here's the beginning of the digital example of Isaac Newton's Waste Book.

    1. Gimmick Book Pulp sci-fi author Alfred Bester kept a book of storytelling tricks. All I ever wanted was to be a great storytelling pitchman, which is why I collected the tricky devices and means which are entered in this Gimmick Book.

      It's been a while since I've seen someone mention either gimmick books or waste books in relation to commonplace books.

  5. gordonbrander.com gordonbrander.com
    1. There are rumors Pascal wrote the Pensées on notecards, and pinned these cards to a wall, connecting related thoughts with yarn. An early example of hypertext?

      This certainly fits into the broad general ideas surrounding note taking, commonplace books, and zettelkasten as tools for thought. People generally seemed to have used relatively similar methods but shoehorned them into the available tools they had at the time.

      This also, incidentally isn't too far off from how indigenous peoples the world over have used memory techniques (memory palaces, songlines, etc.) to hold together and pollinate their own thinking.

      Raymond Llull took things a step further with his combinatoric methods, though I've yet to see anyone attempting that in the area of digital gardens.

    1. The largest collection of Isaac Newton's papers has gone digital, committing to open-access posterity the works of one of history's greatest scientist. Among the works shared online by the Cambridge Digital Library are Newton's own annotated copy of Principia Mathematica and the 'Waste Book,' the notebook in which a young Newton worked out the principles of calculus.

      I've annotated something about Isaac Newton's Waste Book for calculus before (possibly in Cambridge's Digital Library itself, but just in case, I'm making a note of it here again so it doesn't get lost.

      In my own practice, I occasionally use small notebooks to write temporary notes into before transferring them into other digital forms. I generally don't throw them away, but they're essentially waste books in a sense.

    1. Despite the surprising lack of digital editions, the commonplace book, more than any other genre of writing, seems well suited to a digital format, since, by its very structure, it is a linked web of fragments that have been “coded” and “marked up” with metadata. For this reason, we have put much thought and planning into which tools to use and how design this digital edition.
    1. A standalone React/Redux web application for for presenting unique printed books and manuscripts in digital facsimile.

      <small><cite class='h-cite via'> <span class='p-author h-card'>Whitney Trettien</span> in Digital Book History (<time class='dt-published'>04/07/2021 12:59:11</time>)</cite></small>

    1. Cut/Copy/Paste explores the relations between fragments, history, books, and media. It does so by scouting out fringe maker cultures of the seventeenth century, where archives were cut up, “hacked,” and reassembled into new media machines: the Concordance Room at Little Gidding in the 1630s and 1640s, where Mary Collett Ferrar and her family sliced apart printed Bibles and pasted the pieces back together into elaborate collages known as “Harmonies”; the domestic printing atelier of Edward Benlowes, a gentleman poet and Royalist who rode out the Civil Wars by assembling boutique books of poetry; and the nomadic collections of John Bagford, a shoemaker-turned-bookseller who foraged fragments of old manuscripts and title pages from used bookshops to assemble a material history of the book. Working across a century of upheaval, when England was reconsidering its religion and governance, each of these individuals saved the frail, fragile, frangible bits of the past and made from them new constellations of meaning. These fragmented assemblages resist familiar bibliographic and literary categories, slipping between the cracks of disciplines; later institutions like the British Library did not know how to collate or catalogue them, shuffling them between departments of print and manuscript. Yet, brought back together in this hybrid history, their scattered remains witness an emergent early modern poetics of care and curation, grounded in communities of practice. Stitching together new work in book history and media archaeology via digital methods and feminist historiography, Cut/Copy/Paste traces the lives and afterlives of these communities, from their origins in early modern print cultures to the circulation of their work as digital fragments today. In doing so, this project rediscovers the odd book histories of the seventeenth century as a media history with an ethics of material making—one that has much to teach us today.
    1. A Digital Garden Theme for Gatsby. Gatsby Garden lets you create a static HTML version of your markdown notes

      This also supports Obsidian wikilinks

    1. An interesting thread with some links to the [[agora]] and various pieces others are building.

    1. I love the phrase "elephant paths" (the correct translation?) for maps of content.

      I also like the idea of having a set up for doing digital captures of physical notebook pages. I'll have to consider how to do this most easily. I should also look back and evaluate how to continue improving my digital process as well.

    1. all active note-takers, life-hackers, and apparently also IndieWeb-enabled bloggers!

      We really need to get around to scheduling the second session of Gardens and Streams.

    2. esterday evening, Ton Zijlstra organized the first Dutch Obsidian meetup. I didn’t really know what to expect, and in the end I’m glad I let my curiosity get the better of me, as we chatted for almost two hours on various struggles with contemporary note-taking using the relatively new note-taking player, Obsidian. Read Frank Meeuwsen’s expectations and Ton’s afterthoughts on their respective blogs (in Dutch). Together with Sebastiaan Andeweg and myself, the four of us had a great time showing each other how we tackle digital note-taking. It turned out to be a small but quirky group of like-minded people: all active note-takers, life-hackers, and apparently also IndieWeb-enabled bloggers!

      This sounds like a fun way to get together. I'm personally curious to see people taking their Obsidian data and turning them into IndieWeb-friendly linked Memexes. It's interesting to use Obsidian to have a thought conversation with one's self, but it could also be interesting if they could have conversations with each other via Webmention.

      For me the more difficult piece is not so much getting the thing online, but setting it up so that the backlinks all work properly using the [[wikilink]] syntax.

    1. Now this is interesting, and it sort of hits on the difference between a personal blog and a blog that feels more like a personal brand exercise. The best personal blogs I’ve come across feel like a glimpse in to someone’s personal notebook, something filled mostly with notes written with the author in mind first and foremost vs notes that have been written with a wider audience in mind. A good personal blog can (and maybe should) contain a mixture of both, since they both can be absolutely great and useful. But when it is only ever writing for an audience… well that doesn’t feel like a personal blog, to me.

      This is much the way I feel and write. I keep my site more as a personal commonplace book and write primarily for myself. Others read it from time to time and comment, but in the end, it's really all just for me.

    1. Children of Ruin (by Adrian Tchaikovsky) you may like that deals with an uplifted octopus society. It's a sequel to a previous book (Children of Time)

      heard about this before, read

  6. Apr 2021
    1. This is a pretty solid overview of a literature review workflow. He doesn't use the words, but this is not a half bad way to build a digital commonplace book or digital garden/personal wiki for research use.

      I hadn't thought about using Grav as the method for storing and displaying all of it, but perhaps it's worth looking into?

    1. This looks fascinating. I'm not so much interested in the coding/programming part as I am the actual "working in public" portions as they relate to writing, thinking, blogging in the open and sharing that as part of my own learning and growth as well as for sharing that with a broader personal learning network. I'm curious what lessons might be learned within this frame or how educators and journalists might benefit from it.

    1. There are surprisingly few digital editions of commonplace books, especially given how the genre lends itself to digitization. What we've made isn't perfect but we hope it helps others think through/with these types of books. More about that here: digitalbookhistory.com/colletscommonp…

      I've seen some people building digital commonplace books in real time, but I'm also curious to see more academics doing it and seeing what tools and platforms they're using to do it.

      Given the prevalence for these in text, I'd be particularly curious to see them being done as .txt or .md files and then imported into platforms like Obsidian, Roam Research, Org Mode, TiddlyWiki, et al for cross linking and backlinking.

      I've seen some evidence of people doing some of this with copies of the bible, but yet to see anyone digitize and cross link old notebooks or commonplace books.

    1. An old bachelor is generally very precise and exact in his habits. He has no one but himself to look after, nothing to distract his attention from his own affairs; and Mr. Dodgson was the most precise and exact of old bachelors. He made a précis of every letter he wrote or received from the 1st of January, 1861, to the 8th of the same month, 1898. These précis were all numbered and entered in reference-books, and by an ingenious system of cross-numbering he was able to trace a whole correspondence, which might extend through several volumes. The last number entered in his book is 98,721.

      I'm curious what this system was? Was it influenced by systems of John Locke's commonplace book? It could also have been the sort of system which may have inspired Niklas Luhmann.

      Whatever it was, it must have been massive and somewhat well thought through if it reached such a tremendous size.

  7. Mar 2021
    1. He talks about stories being important to us.

      This is because there's an organization and order to our stories, which is important to our memory, individually and culturally.


      The idea of photographs helping to spark our memories of times and spaces.


      Urgency vs. acceptance


      h/t Jacky A.

    1. Folks like Ben Thompson are effectively writing books. Take a year of his essays, edit them for brevity and clarity, and you’d have a brilliant edition of This Year in Tech. And so in a strange way, Stratechery in paid newsletter form is as much a Future Book as a bounded Kindle edition.

      And this isn't a new thing, publishers were mining the blogosphere for books from websites in the early 2000s.

    2. Purchasing a book is one of the strongest self-selections of community, and damn it, I wanted to engage.

    3. Why the future book never arrived? I might posit that the book we want needs more context about us (perhaps a commonplace book?). If it had this then it could meet us where we are and help to give us the things we need.

      An Algebra text would be dramatically different things to a 4th grader, an 8th grader, and a college math major. It could still be the same book, but hide or reveal portions of it's complexity depending on our background and knowledge of its subject.

      Perhaps it would know our favorite learning modalities and provide them based on whether we're motivated by stories, audio, video, data visualizations, or other thoughts and ideas.

    1. Ravi outlines some of how he syndicates from his Drupal website to Twitter.

      I particularly appreciated that he's using a sort of taxonomy within Drupal to add some of his particular content to "books" which aggregate related content together. If this were done in an editable outline then it should be easier to aggregate and edit later into an actual book. This would be a cool UI to have within a website for writing and creating.

    1. <small><cite class='h-cite via'> <span class='p-author h-card'>hyperlink.academy</span> in The Future of Textbooks (<time class='dt-published'>03/18/2021 23:54:19</time>)</cite></small>

    1. Furthermore, web annotation also affords curation, creating a static but unstable record of this emergent and dynamic performance, accenting via hypertext particular ideas and moments from a malleable document.

      One of the pieces missing from Hypothes.is is the curateable notebook which more easily allows one to create new content from one's annotations.

      Search is certain there, but being able to move the pieces about and re-synthesize them into new emergent pieces is the second necessary step.

    2. Platforms like Hypothes.is, which afford social and collaborative web annotation, demonstrate the ease with which authors and their audience can create a sociotechnical milieu to share thinking in progress, voice wonder, and rehearse informal dispositions in service of publication.

      I personally identify with this since I'm porting my annotations and thoughts to a notebook as part of a process for active thinking, revision, writing, and eventual publication.

    1. Eva Illouz's Cold Intimacies: The Making of Emotional Capitalism and Georg Franck's Mental Capitalism

      Books to look into.

    1. engage in technology enhancedmultigenre research

      this will go nicely with a text from my Educational Ethnography class, Hybrid Ethnography

    1. I love this idea. I have a fairly extensive personal commonplace book and collect and archive tons of material, but really should delve more deeply into the topic. I'd be particularly interested in the taxonomies portions you've outlined.

  8. Feb 2021
    1. This website is an open notebook. The purpose of this is to share the ideas that I'm exploring and to think in public. This means that, unlike a traditional blog, I'm showcasing many ideas that are in development rather than complete. If you'd like to see more detail or have related thoughts, feel free to leave a comment or tweet at me @RobertHaisfield.

      Similar to my own ideas of networked digital commonplace books or the idea of a networked Memex.

    1. a MD notebook like Athens Research (another open collab project that makes a bi-directional linking markdown notebook, they even call it a Memex but their focus is more on the notebook and research side than on the data collection and annotation end that WorldBrain is focused on See here for AthensResearch/Athens vision: https://github.com/athensresearch/athens/blob/master/VISION.md 6 roadmap/mindmap: https://whimsical.com/TCeXP1dpRkdT8rpMvYci2P 4 notion: https://www.notion.so/Athens-67e1c6068cb449ff935d10e882fd9b05 1 they use clojurescript and datascript (which I have worked with professionally in the past, it is ideal for the backlinking notes graph problem they solve and is the same tech behind Roam which is closed-source software they are aiming to provide and opensource alternative for)

      I've heard one or two mentions of Athens before, but don't think I've actively bookmarked it. Here are some of the primary references.

    1. This project is somewhat related to getmemex.com

      Zegnat et al.: FYI WorldBrain's Memex (= getmemex.com) has some shared history with my WebMemex project; we collaborated for some months, then went in somewhat different directions; I focussed on web page snapshotting for a while, and got distracted with other things; WorldBrain's version added more and more features and got a lot closer to what I had in mind for WebMemex. — via treora # 21:34 on 2021-02-12

    1. Comments

      This word is exactly the point. What if this web page were a public thing within Roam? Then other people's notebooks could comment within their own, but using notifications (via Webmention) could be placed into a comments section at the bottom of one's page or even done inline on the portions they're commenting on using block references.

    2. When it comes to publishing, I think the publishing platform of choice is determined by other questions, such as where are my ideas going to make the most impact, where can I make the most money, what banner can I publish under that will lend me the most credibility. 

      What about publishing in a place that could make one's ideas dramatically better? If Roam or competitiors had page to page discussions (think short notes/status updates on Twitter, but without the extra "crap"), then one would come for the ideas and the conversation, but in a format that's meant for improving and elevating one's thoughts and ideas.

      This may not appeal to Harry and Mary Beercan, but it would cater to a large enough group to make things worthwhile.

    3. The only problem is, I’ve seen a lot of “public Roams” but I never enjoy the reading experience. Non-linear “digital gardens” of notes are of immense usefulness, but only so long as the individual nodes provide quality linear reading experiences. And it’s not impossible to do so in Roam, but I’ve rarely seen it. 

      This is an important point and is generally true.

      But it's also why I like the idea of linking Roam or similar tools to Hypothes.is. Hypothes.is puts some of the conversation into other documents which are linear, but allow side conversations which could be moved into one's public/private notebooks.

      Similarly, longer articles within a digital garden could be this more linear space where conversations occur and continue to hone ideas.

    4. In other words, Roam could be the thing the scientist uses for fun to organize their book notes, or they could also be the thing that same scientist uses at work to collaborate with colleagues on discovering new truths, paid for by their employer.

      But why can't it do both?

      Because it's on the same platform, they could allow people to make their notes public and shareable. They could add Webmention support so that one notebook could talk to another!

      C'mon people!!? Don't you remember the dream of the Memex?

    5. This is what I mean when I say Roam “increases the expected value of my notes.” Now that I’m using Roam, I’m confident my notes will remain useful long into the future, so I’ve increased the quality and quantity of the notes I take.

      Well interlinked notes increases their future expected value which in turn gives one more reason to not only take more notes, but to take better notes.

    6. In most note-taking apps, you jot something down quickly and only use it a few times before losing track of it.

      This is a major problem of most note taking applications. Having the ability to inter-link one's notes in ways that allow one to revisit, revise, and rearrange them is incredibly valuable.

    7. Personal todo lists don’t depend on others using the same system (no network effects)

      They don't unless you're building a wiki or commonplace book that can interact with those of others. (Roam research isn't doing this---yet, but they should.) Ideally small building block pieces will allow it to dovetail with other systems that could potentially do the same thing.

    1. And yes, some add-ons exist, but I just wish the feature was native to the browser. And I do not want to rely on a third party service. My quotes are mine only and should not necessary be shared with a server on someone's else machine.

      Ownership of the data is important. One could certainly set up their own Hypothes.is server if they liked.

      I personally take the data from my own Hypothes.is account and dump it into my local Obsidian.md vault for saving, crosslinking, and further thought.

    2. Bookmark This Selection What I would like from the bookmark feature in the browser is the ability to not only bookmark the full page but be able to select a piece of the page that is reflected in the bookmark, be through the normal menu as we have seen above or through the contextual menu of the browser.

      Sounds kind of like they're wishing for Hypothes.is?