13 Matching Annotations
  1. Jul 2022
    1. Or, we canpicture ourselves collecting bones, breaking and roastingthem, and then boiling them for hours or days in a stockpot to release the nutritious and tasty marrow.

      We can imagine mining the information we encounter, following veins and seams underground, then smelting and refining the ore into useful metals. Occasionally we might come across gems that are nearly perfect when we discover them, perhaps needing only a bit of cutting and setting to reveal their beauty. But mostly the work involves patience and effort, as we go through the steps of finding, collecting, refining, and concentrating information from a raw material into exactly what we need for our structure

      I love these two new clever metaphors (mining and refining and cooking) for note taking for building knowledge. They're a welcome addition to the older and more classical metaphor of bees (Latin: apes) collecting pollen to make honey in the commonplace tradition.

    1. But it's not a trivial problem. I have compiled, at latest reckoning, 35,669 posts - my version of a Zettelkasten. But how to use them when writing a paper? It's not straightforward - and I find myself typically looking outside my own notes to do searches on Google and elsewhere. So how is my own Zettel useful? For me, the magic happens in the creation, not in the subsequent use. They become grist for pattern recognition. I don't find value in classifying them or categorizing them (except for historical purposes, to create a chronology of some concept over time), but by linking them intuitively to form overarching themes or concepts not actually contained in the resources themselves. But this my brain does, not my software. Then I write a paper (or an outline) based on those themes (usually at the prompt of an interview, speaking or paper invitation) and then I flesh out the paper by doing a much wider search, and not just my limited collection of resources.

      Stephen Downes describes some of his note taking process for creation here. He doesn't actively reuse his notes (or in this case blog posts, bookmarks, etc.) which number a sizeable 35669, directly, at least in the sort of cut and paste method suggested by Sönke Ahrens. Rather he follows a sort of broad idea, outline creation, and search plan akin to that described by Cory Doctorow in 20 years a blogger

      Link to: - https://hyp.is/_XgTCm9GEeyn4Dv6eR9ypw/pluralistic.net/2021/01/13/two-decades/


      Downes suggests that the "magic happens in the creation" of his notes. He uses them as "grist for pattern recognition". He doesn't mention words like surprise or serendipity coming from his notes by linking them, though he does use them "intuitively to form overarching themes or concepts not actually contained in the resources themselves." This is closely akin to the broader ideas ensconced in inventio, Llullan Wheels, triangle thinking, ideas have sex, combinatorial creativity, serendipity (Luhmann), insight, etc. which have been described by others.


      Note that Downes indicates that his brain creates the links and he doesn't rely on his software to do this. The break is compounded by the fact that he doesn't find value in classifying or categorizing his notes.


      I appreciate that Downes uses the word "grist" to describe part of his note taking practice which evokes the idea of grinding up complex ideas (the grain) to sort out the portions of the whole to find simpler ideas (the flour) which one might use later to combine to make new ideas (bread, cake, etc.) Similar analogies might be had in the grain harvesting space including winnowing or threshing.

      One can compare this use of a grist mill analogy of thinking with the analogy of the crucible, which implies a chamber or space in which elements are brought together often with work or extreme conditions to create new products by their combination.

      Of course these also follow the older classical analogy of imitating the bees (apes).

  2. Apr 2022
    1. One of the field’sleading textbooks was authored by literature scholar Edward P. J. Corbett, whonever relinquished the notion that emulating the work of the masters was the firststep toward developing one’s own distinctive style. “Imitate, that you may bedifferent!” Corbett thundered.

      Literature scholar Edward P.J. Corbett used to command "Imitate, that you may be different!" While his rhetoric and composition textbook may have encouraged students to emulate the masters, this pattern goes back to ancient Greek rhetoricians who also admonished

      Link to rhetoric examples in antiquity. Link to the Finding Forrester example.

  3. Jan 2022
    1. Seneca gives an account of his ideas about note-taking in the 84th letter to Luculius ("On Gathering Ideas"). [1]The letter starts from what "men say" (ut aiunt), namely that we should imitate the bees in reading. As they produce honey from the flowers they visit and then "assort in their cells all that they have brought in" (277), so we should, Seneca himself says "sift (separare) whatever we have gathered from a varied course of reading" because things keep better in isolation from one another.

      Cross reference origin in

      Seneca (2006) Epistles 66-92. With an English translation by Richard G. Gummere. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press (Loeb Classical Library), 277-285.

  4. Dec 2021
    1. Finally, a complete work, such as the Guhyasamāja Tantra, or a commentary upon it, is called a ‘macroform’. The way such literary constructions are put together resembles an ‘anthological’ model: tradents select existing lemmata and microforms and re-anthologise them to make new wholes.

      Macroforms are the literary constructions which we might consider anthologies composed of smaller building blocks of lemmata and microforms. These smaller forms are rhetorically built up into larger forms to make "new" literary works or commentaries on prior works.

      These can be compared to Western rhetorical traditions going back to Seneca the Younger in Epistulae morales

      "We should follow, men say, the example of the bees, who flit about and cull the flowers that are suitable for producing honey, and then arrange and assort in their cells all that they have brought in; these bees, as our Vergil says, 'pack close the flowering honey | And swell their cells with nectar sweet.' "

      He's essentially saying, read the best, take their thoughts and ideas, consume them, make them your own."

      Generations later in ~430 CE, Macrobius in his Saturnalia repeated the same idea and even analogy (he assuredly read Seneca, though he obviously didn't acknowledge him):

      "You should not count it a fault if I shall set out the borrowings from a miscellaneous reading in the authors' own words... sometimes set out plainly in my own words and sometimes faithfully recorded in the actual words of the old writers... We ought in some sort to imitate bees; and just as they, in their wandering to and fro, sip the flowers, then arrange their spoil and distribute it among the honeycombs, and transform the various juices to a single flavor by some mixing with them a property of their own being, so I too shall put into writing all that I have acquired in the varied course of my reading... For not only does arrangement help the memory, but the actual process of arrangement, accompanied by a kind of mental fermentation which serves to season the whole, blends the diverse extracts to make a single flavor; with the result that, even if the sources are evident, what we get in the end is still something clearly different from those known sources."

      (cross reference: https://hyp.is/mCsl9voQEeuP3t8jNOyAvw/maggieappleton.com/echo-narcissus)

  5. Nov 2021
    1. While scholars have long identified an early modern tendency to borrow and redeploy texts, Bound to Read reveals that these strategies of imitation and appropriation were rooted in concrete ways of engaging with books.
  6. Sep 2021
    1. Encourage imitation. By seeing imitation as intellectually empty and even fraudulent, we neglect one of the most powerful learning tools we have. How might we build imitation more deliberately into our pedagogy? How might we use an intentionally-designed apprenticeship model for more types of learning?

      The history of rhetoric is littered with suggestions to imitate. Early commonplace book handbooks encouraged it heavily.

      Cross reference: https://hyp.is/mCsl9voQEeuP3t8jNOyAvw/maggieappleton.com/echo-narcissus

  7. Aug 2021
    1. This now brings diversity to the table. It is deliberately interdisciplinary. Notes from poets interact with notes from scientists and notes from wise elders.

      This is the closest phrase I've seen in the zettelkasten space that ties back directly into the commonplace book tradition of sententiae.

      Kudos to the author for this.

      I like the fact that he highlights the diversity of thought he's getting by plumbing the depths of a variety of types of writers and creators. Very reminiscent of another early commonplace book tradition of the bee analogy.

    1. You would take a Didion sentence like 'Only the very young and the very old may recount their dreams at breakfast, dwell upon self, interrupt with memories of beach picnics and favorite Liberty lawn dresses and the rainbow trout in a creek near Colorado Springs,' and learn how to see it as "Only the ____ and the ____ may ____, ____, ____ and ____." A reusable format for pointing out similarities between two distinct things.

      An excellent little example of copying form and style.

    2. I used to think copying was unseemly before one of my writing professors in college filled me in on the big, unkept secret. He handed us a small trove of writing samples from folks like Joan Didion, John McPhee, Barbara Kingsolver, and Ernest Hemingway. Essentially a Who's Who of New Yorker essayists. We had to copy out their work, then write our own pieces using the copied sentences as 'templates.'

      This general thought goes back to antiquity (and possibly earlier). In writing about classic rhetoric Seneca the Younger wrote in Epistulae morales

      "We should follow, men say, the example of the bees, who flit about and cull the flowers that are suitable for producing honey, and then arrange and assort in their cells all that they have brought in; these bees, as our Vergil says, 'pack close the flowering honey | And swell their cells with nectar sweet.' "

      (Sound a bit like he's one of the original digital gardeners, but in an analog world?)

      He's essentially saying, read the best, take their thoughts and ideas, consume them, make them your own."

      Generations later in ~430 CE, Macrobius in his Saturnalia repeated the same idea and even analogy (he assuredly read Seneca, though he obviously didn't acknowledge him):

      "You should not count it a fault if I shall set out the borrowings from a miscellaneous reading in the authors' own words... sometimes set out plainly in my own words and sometimes faithfully recorded in the actual words of the old writers... We ought in some sort to imitate bees; and just as they, in their wandering to and fro, sip the flowers, then arrange their spoil and distribute it among the honeycombs, and transform the various juices to a single flavor by some mixing with them a property of their own being, so I too shall put into writing all that I have acquired in the varied course of my reading... For not only does arrangement help the memory, but the actual process of arrangement, accompanied by a kind of mental fermentation which serves to season the whole, blends the diverse extracts to make a single flavor; with the result that, even if the sources are evident, what we get in the end is still something clearly different from those known sources."

    1. I should perhaps also note that I try, whenever possible, not to collect raw quotes or information simply copied from the Internet or from books, but to write excerpts or summaries in my own words on the basis of my reading. Luhmann called this "reformulating writing" and argued that such an approach is most important for one's own intellectual life. But this idea is not a new discovery Luhmann made. In fact, the idea that excerpts should be used to keep on's research goes back to at least the Renaissance when people first began to make extensive excerpts on paper.

      This is also related to the ideas of invention as well as the analogy of the bee in relation to commonplaces. Link this to the bee analogy of Seneca the Younger and Macrobius in Saturnalia.