522 Matching Annotations
  1. Last 7 days
    1. What's your opinion on the note card system? Do you personally use it? .t3_ugqnle._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; }


      For commonplace items, I've found notebooks with good indices more valuable. Note cards are better if you're taking atomic notes that you plan on actively reusing in your writing work which is more of a zettelkasten feature/functionality cards are easier to move around, re-arrange, and create outlines for your writing when you get to that point. Historically it was the ability to re-arrange and reuse one's commonplace items that helped to spawn and popularize the idea of zettelkasten, which are often more frequently used by writers, researchers, and academics for creating new content. Historically it was the ability to re-arrange and reuse one's commonplace items that helped to spawn and popularize the idea of zettelkasten, which are often more frequently used by writers, researchers, and academics for creating new content.

      Some of the difference can be personal choice, practicality, ease-of-use, and the functionality you hope to get out of one method or the other. Honestly there's no reason you couldn't do both if you chose, but it may help to have a common index which will allow you to search for and find things you need. A set of useful historical examples can be found in the mid-twentieth century comedians including Bob Hope (pages he kept in files), Phyllis Diller (index cards), Joan Rivers (index cards), and actor/politician Ronald Reagan who maintained what some might call a commonplace book of quotes which he kept on index cards, but held in a notebook-like binder similar to a photo album with pages that he could place the cards in, but still allow him to move them around (both from slot to slot, or move whole pages at a time). The loosest system I've yet seen is that of Eminem who kept ideas and lyrics written on hotel stationery or random slips of paper which he kept wholly unorganized and unindexed in a cardboard box in a method he called "stacking ammo." Do what you think will work best for you and try it out for a while. You can always change methods later on if your needs change.

    1. No piece of information is superior to any other. Power lies in having them all on file and then finding the connections. There are always connections; you have only to want to find them. -- Umberto Eco. Foucault's Pendulum p. 190.

      This is a stunning quote with respect to the idea of note taking and creating connections between pieces of information or knowledge.

      It's highlighted to an even greater degree that this quote appears in someone's online digital commonplace book!

    1. 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.

    1. I had discovered somethingvery special

      Notice the creation myth being born here? Does he really believe that no one has noticed this before?

      What about all the handbook writers who encouraged commonplacing in the 1500s, much less their predecessors?

    2. I’ve spent years studying how prolific writers, artists, and thinkersof the past managed their creative process. I’ve spent countlesshours researching how human beings can use technology to extendand enhance our natural cognitive abilities. I’ve personally

      experimented with every tool, trick, and technique available today for making sense of information. This book distills the very best insights I’ve discovered from teaching thousands of people around the world how to realize the potential of their ideas.

      All this work just for this? When some basic reading of historical note taking, information management, and intellectual history would have saved him the time and effort? Looking through the references I'm not seeing much before even 2010, so it seems as if he's spent most of his time reinventing the wheel.

    3. Now, this eye-opening and accessible guide shows how you caneasily create your own personal system for knowledge management,otherwise known as a Second Brain.

      Marketing speech to convert an old idea (commonplacing) into a new siloed service one needs to pay for.

    4. A revolutionary approach to enhancing productivity,creating flow, and vastly increasing your ability tocapture, remember, and benefit from the unprecedentedamount of information all around us.

      Some great marketing copy, but I'm anticipating a book that is going to lay out some general techniques that go under the topic of commonplace book, a concept that goes back over 2,000 years. This is the opposite of revolutionary.

    5. Forte, Tiago. Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential. Atria Books, 2022. https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Building-a-Second-Brain/Tiago-Forte/9781982167387.

    1. https://x28newblog.wordpress.com/2022/05/08/curating-my-blog-archive/

      I like the overall look and effect done here to create a table of contents in WordPress, but it seems like some quirky gymnastics to pull it off. How might this be done in a more straightforward way? Are there any plugins for WordPress that could create a page that keeps the categories and the descriptions? And particularly a page that primarily only shows articles and not other content types?

      Link this to my work on my own index at https://boffosocko.com/about/index/

    1. Amanda CAARSON I've been a web developer since 1999, and I've been on the indieweb since 2015. This site is a commonplace book for all my online activity and will eventually be a home for archives of all of my online content.


      Example of a personal website indicating that it's a commonplace book. (Highly likely through my own influence.)

  2. Apr 2022
    1. https://www.themarginalian.org/2012/11/19/joan-didion-on-keeping-a-notebook/

      A nice little advertisement for Joan Didion's essay "On Keeping a Notebook". Mostly it's pull quotes from the piece without any additional commentary. I've downloaded a copy of the book to read the piece in full myself.

    2. Joan Didion on Keeping a Notebook “We are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not.”
    1. The bookitself participates in the history it recounts: it has a title page, table of contents,footnotes, a bibliography and an index to assist the reader, while the digitalcopy enables the reader to search for individual words and phrases as well asto copy-and-paste without disfiguring a material object.

      Some scholars study annotations as part of material culture. Are they leaving out too much by solely studying those physically left in the books about which they were made, or should we instead also be looking at other sources like commonplace books, notebooks, note cards, digital spaces like e-readers that allow annotation, social media where texts are discussed, or even digital marginalia in services like Hypothes.is or Perusall?

      Some of these forms of annotation allow a digital version of cut and paste which doesn't cause damage to the original text, which should be thought of as a good thing though it may separate the annotations from the original physical object.

    1. published under the title‘An Almost Obsessive Relation to Writing Instruments’, which firstappeared in Le Monde in 1973, Barthes describes the method thatguides his use of index cards:I’m content to read the text in question, in a ratherfetishistic way: writing down certain passages,moments, even words which have the power tomove me. As I go along, I use my cards to writedown quotations, or ideas which come to me, asthey do so, curiously, already in the rhythm of asentence, so that from that moment on, things arealready taking on an existence as writing. (1991:181)

      In an interview with Le Monde in 1973, Barthes indicated that while his note taking practice was somewhat akin to that of a commonplace book where one might collect interesting passages, or quotations, he was also specifically writing down ideas which came to him, but doing so in "in the rhythm of a sentence, so that from that moment on, things are already taking on an existence as writing." This indicates that he's already preparing for future publications in which he might use those very ideas and putting them into a more finished form than most might think of when considering shorter fleeting notes used simply as a reminder. By having the work already done, he can easily put his own ideas directly into longer works.

      Was there any evidence that his notes were crosslinked or indexed in a way so that he could more rapidly rearrange his ideas and pre-written thoughts to more easily copy them into longer articles or books?

    1. Beatrice Webb, the famous sociologist and political activist, reported in 1926: "'Every one agrees nowadays', observe the most noted French writers on the study of history, 'that it is advisable to collect materials on separate cards or slips of paper. . . . The advantages of this artifice are obvious; the detachability of the slips enables us to group them at will in a host of different combinations; if necessary, to change their places; it is easy to bring texts of the same kind together, and to incorporate additions, as they are acquired, in the interior of the groups to which they belong.'" [6]


      Webb 1926, p. 363. The number of scholars who have used the index card method is legion, especially in sociology and anthropology, but also in many other subjects. Claude Lévy-Strauss learned their use from Marcel Mauss and others, Roland Barthes used them, Charles Sanders Peirce relied on them, and William Van Orman Quine wrote his lectures on them, etc.

    1. 7 Notes could also focus on original thoughts, as in the Pen-sées of Blaise Pascal, the “commonplace book” of George Berkeley, or the Sudel-bücher of Georg Lichtenberg, which were devoted to original reflections ratherthan to excerpts from the writings of other authors.

      Examples of notes focusing on one's original ideas and reflections rather than excerpts of others' works.

    2. Francis Bacon explained succinctlythat notes could be made either “by epitome or abridgement” (that is, by sum-marizing the source) or “by heads or commonplaces” (that is, by copying a pas-sage verbatim or nearly so and storing it in a notebook under a commonplaceheading for later retrieval and use). Bacon considered the latter method “of farmore profit and use,” and most note-taking advice focused on this practice of ex-cerpting.46

      This quote is worth looking up and checking its context. Particularly I'm interested to know if the purpose of summarizing the source is to check one's understanding of the ideas as is done in the Feynman technique, or if the purpose is a reminder summary of the piece itself?

      Link to Ahrens mentions of this technique for checking understanding. (Did he use the phrase Feynman in his text?)

    3. One of his last works, the Aurifodina, “The Mine of All Arts and Sci-ences, or the Habit of Excerpting,” was printed in 1638 (in 2,000 copies) andin another fourteen editions down to 1695 and spawned abridgments in Latin(1658), German (1684), and English.

      Simply the word abridgement here leads me to wonder:

      Was the continual abridgement of texts and excerpting small pieces for later use the partial cause of the loss of the arts of memory? Ars excerpendi ad infinitum? It's possible that this, with the growth of note taking practices, continual information overload, and other pressures for educational reform swamped the prior practices.

      For evidence, take a look at William Engel's work following the arts of memory in England and Europe to see if we can track the slow demise by attrition of the descriptions and practices. What would such a study show? How might we assign values to the various pressures at play? Which was the most responsible?

      Could it have also been the slow, inexorable death of many of these classical means of taking notes as well? How did we loose the practices of excerpting for creating new ideas? Where did the commonplace books go? Where did the zettelkasten disappear to?

      One author, with a carefully honed practice and the extant context of their life writes some brief notes which get passed along to their students or which are put into a new book that misses a lot of their existing context with respect to the new readers. These readers then don't know about the attrition happening and slowly, but surely the knowledge goes missing amidst a wash of information overload. Over time the ideas and practices slowly erode and are replaced with newer techniques which may not have been well tested or stood the test of time. One day the world wakes up and the common practices are no longer of use.

      This is potentially all the more likely because of the extremely basic ideas underpinning some of memory and note taking. They seem like such basic knowledge we're also prone to take them for granted and not teach them as thoroughly as we ought.

      How does one juxtapose this with the idea of humanist scholars excerpting, copying, and using classical texts with a specific eye toward preventing the loss of these very classical texts?

      Is this potentially the idea of having one's eye on a particular target and losing sight of other creeping effects?

      It's also difficult to remember what it was like when we ourselves didn't know something and once that is lost, it can be harder and harder to teach newcomers.

    4. During the same period zibaldone designated notebooks kept bywriters, artists, and merchants to record a wide variety of information: outgoingletters, copies of documents, indexes to books, lists of paintings, and excerptscopied from all kinds of texts, including poetry, prose, merchants’ manuals, legalsources, and tables of weights and measures.27
    5. But modern note-taking is more idiosyncratic to each note-taker and no longer follows a set of subject headings that pedagogical practicesand printed reference works helped to standardize.

      Early modern reference works, handbooks, and pedagogical practices created a sort of standardized set of subject headings amongst note takers.

      A similar sort of effort could have been seen in the blogosphere of the early 2000s in which Technorati and their search functionality may have helped to standardize some of these same sorts of taxonomic issues within their product which was widely used at the time.

    6. Referencebooks also typically offered a larger collection of excerpts than most individualscould amass in a lifetime.

      This makes me wonder if it would be a useful product to have a highly linked note collection to sell to others in a modern context? It could be done entirely in text files for compatibility with Roam Research, Obsidian, Logseq, et al. Ideally it would be done in a more commonplace way with quotes and interlinked and could be expanded upon by the purchaser.

    7. Conrad Gesner, for example, observed in his editionof Stobaeus: “I ask you, who of the learned doesn’t either take commonplacenotes or wish they did from their daily reading on moral matters?”1
    1. In his manuscript, Harrison spoke of machina with respect to his filing cabinet and named his invention ‘Ark of Studies’. In rhetorical culture, ‘ark’ had been a metaphor that, among many others, denoted the virtual store-house that orators stocked with vivid images of memorable topics (res) and words (verba). In Harrison’s manuscript, ‘ark’ instead became a synonym for ‘mechanical’ memory. In turn, in the distinction between natural and artificial memory, consciousness was compelled to leave its place and to shift to the op-posing side.

      Thomas Harrison used the word machina to describe his 'Ark of Studies', a filing cabinet for notes and excerpts from other works. This represents part of a discrete and very specific change on the continuum of movement from the ars memoria (artificial memory) to the ars excerptendi (note taking). Within the rhetorical tradition relying on creating memorable images for topics (res) and words (verba) the idea of an ark was often used as a memory palace as seen in Hugh of St. Victor's De arca Noe mystica, or ‘‘The Ark of Noah According to the Spiritual Method of Reading" (1125–30). It starts the movement from natural and artificial memory to a form of external and mechanical memory represented by his physical filing cabinet.

      Reference Yates and Carruthers for Hugh of St. Victor.

  3. Mar 2022
    1. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/22/magazine/commonplace-books-recommendation.html

      An interesting essay centering the idea of a commonplace book, but without describing a particular use case.

      Why did she keep it? How is she actually using it? There is an analogy of it with a diary, but it feels like the writer is keeping one, but not actively using it for anything but nostalgic purposes.

      Why not get more out of it?

    2. Nicholson Baker on commonplace books: “My own bristling brain-urchins of worry melt in the strong solvent of other people’s grammar.”
    3. When I lived in Austin, I updated it regularly as I read at my desk; in Brooklyn, where I had no room for a desk, I would take photos of passages in library books and transcribe them later in a coffee shop. These days I live semi-nomadically, without a fixed address, and I email myself lines. Every few months I sift through them and copy the ones that still resonate into my book.

      Here's an example of someone using photos on their phone and email in the vein of a waste book.

    1. this is george have you have you um found that there are people who are natural thinkers like this uh the zettlecaston type thinking the 01:15:45 bottom-up thinking whatever you want to call it have you studied great thinkers and looked at their patterns and seen that they do that or is it all over the place 01:16:00 i i'm not an expert on i i know what i like in in terms of works um 01:16:13 i think there are similarities between the thinkers i read and i believe 01:16:26 they're often systematic and have found a way to deal with complexity to be able to put heterogeneous 01:16:40 ideas different ideas into a coherent theory system and i think the only way to do that 01:16:54 is by having some kind of external um brain or an equivalent of it

      George is asking a good question here and one I've even asked myself, but doesn't seem to have spent any time looking at intellectual history.

      Almost all great thinkers were not only significant writers as well, but most, at least in Western culture, kept significant notes of their work, had a commonplace book(s), waste books, sudelbücher, zettelkasten, etc.

      Of course most were also fairly wealthy and had the free time to be able to do their work which also helped to tip the balance in their favor.

    2. nicholas lerman is a sample of one 01:09:54 and if the zerocarton is a tool for thinking there are all these other thinkers out there who are thinking um and do we know how they're thinking how their 01:10:07 how you know what note systems are they using i'd like to i'd like to be able to place lerman yeah amongst all these others and and sort of in the zerocast and 01:10:23 see what others are doing as well and yeah i mean if there was one project i would have loved to do is going around 01:10:36 asking everyone i whose work i admire how do you do it how do you do it exactly what do you do in the morning how do you sit down how do you digest the books you're reading 01:10:48 um i was obsessed with the idea and it's just because i'm too shy to follow up on that

      Some discussion of doing research on zettelkasten methods and workflows.

      What do note taking methods and processes look like for individual people?

      What questions would one ask for this sort of research in an interview setting (compared to how one would look at extant physical examples in document-based research)? #openquestions

      Link this to the work of Earle Havens on commonplace books through portions of history.

    1. Topic A topic was once a spot not a subjecttopic. to ̆p’ı ̆k. n. 1. The subject of a speech, essay, thesis, or discourse. 2. A subject of discussion or con-versation. 3. A subdivision of a theme, thesis, or outline.*With no teleprompter, index cards, or even sheets of paper at their disposal, ancient Greek and Roman orators often had to rely on their memories for holding a great deal of information. Given the limi-tations of memory, the points they chose to make had to be clustered in some meaningful way. A popular and quite reliable method for remembering information was known as loci (see Chapter 9), where loci was Latin for “place.” It involved picking a house you knew well, imagining it in your mind’s eye, and then associating the facts you wanted to recall with specifi c places inside of that house. Using this method, a skillful orator could mentally fi ll up numerous houses with the ideas he needed to recall and then simply “visit” them whenever he spoke about a particular subject. The clusters of informa-tion that speakers used routinely came to be known as commonplaces, loci communes in Latin and koinos topos in Greek. The great Greek philosopher Aristotle referred to them simply as topos, meaning “places.” And that’s how we came to use topic to refer to subject or grouping of information.**

      Even in the western tradition, the earliest methods of mnemonics tied ideas to locations, from whence we get the ideas of loci communes (in Latin) and thence commonplaces and commonplace books. The idea of loci communes was koinos topos in Greek from whence we have derived the word 'topic'.

      Was this a carryover from other local oral traditions or a new innovation? Given the prevalence of very similar Indigenous methods around the world, it was assuredly not an innovation. Perhaps it was a rediscovery after the loss of some of these traditions locally in societies that were less reliant on orality and moving towards more reliance on literacy for their memories.

    1. Human minds are made of memories, and today those memories have competition. Biological memory capacities are being supplanted, or at least supplemented, by digital ones, as we rely on recording—phone cameras, digital video, speech-to-text—to capture information we’ll need in the future and then rely on those stored recordings to know what happened in the past. Search engines have taken over not only traditional reference materials but also the knowledge base that used to be encoded in our own brains. Google remembers, so we don’t have to. And when we don’t have to, we no longer can. Or can we? Remembering and Forgetting in the Age of Technology offers concise, nontechnical explanations of major principles of memory and attention—concepts that all teachers should know and that can inform how technology is used in their classes. Teachers will come away with a new appreciation of the importance of memory for learning, useful ideas for handling and discussing technology with their students, and an understanding of how memory is changing in our technology-saturated world.

      How much history is covered here?

      Will mnemotechniques be covered here? Spaced repetition? Note taking methods in the commonplace book or zettelkasten traditions?

  4. Feb 2022
    1. Some content from this blog has been copied over to TiddlySpace so I can farm it for ideas and such.

      Example of a blog being used as a source of material for creating new ideas.

    1. Together: responsive, inline “autocomplete” pow­ered by an RNN trained on a cor­pus of old sci-fi stories.

      I can't help but think, what if one used their own collected corpus of ideas based on their ever-growing commonplace book to create a text generator? Then by taking notes, highlighting other work, and doing your own work, you're creating a corpus of material that's imminently interesting to you. This also means that by subsuming text over time in making your own notes, the artificial intelligence will more likely also be using your own prior thought patterns to make something that from an information theoretic standpoint look and sound more like you. It would have your "hand" so to speak.

    1. This is why choosing an external system that forces us todeliberate practice and confronts us as much as possible with ourlack of understanding or not-yet-learned information is such a smartmove.

      Choosing an external system for knowledge keeping and production forces the learner into a deliberate practice and confronts them with their lack of understanding. This is a large part of the underlying value not only of the zettelkasten, but of the use of a commonplace book which Benjamin Franklin was getting at when recommending that one "read with a pen in your hand". The external system also creates a modality shift from reading to writing by way of thinking which further underlines the value.

      What other building blocks are present in addition to: - modality shift - deliberate practice - confrontation of lack of understanding

      Are there other systems that do all of these as well as others simultaneously?

      link to Franklin quote

    2. Probably the best method is to take notes – not excerpts, butcondensed reformulated accounts of a text.

      What is the value of reformulating texts and ideas into one's own words rather than excerpting them?

      In the commonplace tradition, learners were suggested to excerpt knowledge and place it into their commonplace books. Luhmann (2000, 154f) and Ahrens (2017, 85) suggest that instead of excerpting that one practice a form of progressive summarization of texts into their own words as a means to learn and expand ones' frames of reference and knowledge.

    3. We need to getour thoughts on paper first and improve them there, where we canlook at them. Especially complex ideas are difficult to turn into alinear text in the head alone. If we try to please the critical readerinstantly, our workflow would come to a standstill. We tend to callextremely slow writers, who always try to write as if for print,perfectionists. Even though it sounds like praise for extremeprofessionalism, it is not: A real professional would wait until it wastime for proofreading, so he or she can focus on one thing at a time.While proofreading requires more focused attention, finding the rightwords during writing requires much more floating attention.

      Proofreading while rewriting, structuring, or doing the thinking or creative parts of writing is a form of bikeshedding. It is easy to focus on the small and picayune fixes when writing, but this distracts from the more important parts of the work which really need one's attention to be successful.

      Get your ideas down on paper and only afterwards work on proofreading at the end. Switching contexts from thinking and creativity to spelling, small bits of grammar, and typography can be taxing from the perspective of trying to multi-task.

      Link: Draft #4 and using Webster's 1913 dictionary for choosing better words/verbiage as a discrete step within the rewrite.

      Linked to above: Are there other dictionaries, thesauruses, books of quotations, or individual commonplace books, waste books that can serve as resources for finding better words, phrases, or phrasing when writing? Imagine searching through Thoreau's commonplace book for finding interesting turns of phrase. Naturally searching through one's own commonplace book is a great place to start, if you're saving those sorts of things, especially from fiction.

      Link this to Robin Sloan's AI talk and using artificial intelligence and corpuses of literature to generate writing.

    4. Be extra selective withquotes – don’t copy them to skip the step of really understanding

      what they mean.

      When quoting material it should have great phrasing and reasonable stand-alone meaning. Preferably the source or person being quoted should have stature or gravitas with respect to the idea at hand. Quotes should recall the classical idea of sententiae as imagined by Aristotle and Quintilian and seen throughout the commonplace book tradition.

    5. The last element in his file system was an index, from which hewould refer to one or two notes that would serve as a kind of entrypoint into a line of thought or topic.

      Indices are certainly an old construct. One of the oldest structured examples in the note taking space is that of John Locke who detailed it in Méthode nouvelle de dresser des recueils (1685), later translated into English as A New Method of Organizing Common Place Books (1706).

      Previously commonplace books had been structured with headwords done alphabetically. This meant starting with a preconceived structure and leaving blank or empty space ahead of time without prior knowledge of what would fill it or how long that might take. By turning that system on its head, one could fill a notebook from front to back with a specific index of the headwords at the end. Then one didn't need to do the same amount of pre-planning or gymnastics over time with respect to where to put their notes.

      This idea combined with that of Konrad Gessner's design for being able to re-arrange slips of paper (which later became index cards based on an idea by Carl Linnaeus), gives us an awful lot of freedom and flexibility in almost any note taking system.

      Building blocks of the note taking system

      • atomic ideas
      • written on (re-arrangeable) slips, cards, or hypertext spaces
      • cross linked with each other
      • cross linked with an index
      • cross linked with references

      are there others? should they be broken up differently?

      Godfathers of Notetaking

      • Aristotle, Cicero (commonplaces)
      • Seneca the Younger (collecting and reusing)
      • Raymond Llull (combinatorial rearrangements)
      • Konrad Gessner (storage for re-arrangeable slips)
      • John Locke (indices)
      • Carl Linnaeus (index cards)
    6. a system is neededto keep track of the ever-increasing pool of information, which allowsone to combine different ideas in an intelligent way with the aim ofgenerating new ideas.

      The point of good tools of thought is to allow one to keep track of the ever increasing flood of information that also allows them to juxtapose or combine ideas in novel and interesting ways. Further, this should provide them with a means of generating and then improving upon their new ideas.

    1. I would advise you to read with a pen in your hand, and enter in a little book short hints of what you find that is curious or that may be useful; for this will be the best method of imprinting such particulars in your memory, where they will be ready either for practice on some future occasion if they are matters of utility, or at least to adorn and improve your conversation if they are rather points of curiosity.

      Benjamin Franklin letter to Miss Stevenson, Wanstead. Craven-street, May 16, 1760.

      Franklin doesn't use the word commonplace book here, but is actively recommending the creation and use of one. He's also encouraging the practice of annotation, though in commonplace form rather than within the book itself.

  5. Jan 2022
    1. https://smithery.com/2022/01/14/making-the-most-of-moments-that-matter/

      A company created a custom commonplace book for attendees of a conference. Not sure how they tummeled people into using them in interesting ways though.

      Could also have done something along the lines of a sketchnote process as well. I liked their idea of having stickers to place in these as well, though that's more of a scrapbook process...

      <small><cite class='h-cite via'> <span class='p-author h-card'>Tom Critchlow </span> in Tom Critchlow on Twitter: "Love this meditation from @willsh on building artefacts, commonplace books, and more: https://t.co/zJmkMcaUN2 (and look at those physical keys they forged for a workshop!!!!)" / Twitter (<time class='dt-published'>01/22/2022 23:05:44</time>)</cite></small>

    2. In the more recent decades, of course, personal collation of this sort is well supported by digital tools – early blog platforms, Delicious, Tumblr, Pinterest, and so on – and we toyed briefly with the idea of something as a shared digital experience or app.

      Indication here of digital platforms like Delicious, Tumblr, and Pinterest standing in for digital commonplace books.

    1. He also jotted down, as Johannes Schmidt has found in his research, a few keywords along with the respective page num-bers (in early modern Europe, this excerpting system was called adversaria or lemmata).83

      In early modern Europe the system of excerpting from reading material was called adversaria or lemmata.

    2. With respect to the Ark of Studies, for example, Johann Benedict Metzler did not use gratifying words; yet he nonetheless recommended numbering the hooks (aciculas) to which the paper slips should be attached and recording the matching of number and heading in a subject index. In this way, Metzler noted, scholars would not be compelled to leave empty spaces between entries and to recalibrate the entire content any time a new entry (a new commonplace) should be added.65

      65 Johann Benedict Metzler, Artificium excerpendi genuinum dictus Die rechte Kunst zu excer-piren (Leipzig, 1709), 23–4; 30; 91–2

      Is there really any mathematical difference between alphabetical order and a numerical decimal order? Can't they be shown to be one-to-one and onto?

      To a layperson they may seem different...

    3. Placcius recommended considering the first, the second, and the third letters in the words listed in the subject index in order to avoid spending too much time in searching for an entry;

      Placcius, De arte excerpendi, 84–5;

    4. Just Christoph Udenius, for example, sug-gested leaving thirty or forty blank pages at the end of a commonplace book to be filled in with a well-made subject index, or devoting a separate in-octavo booklet for this essential task;

      Just Christoph Udenius, Excerpendi ratio nova (Nordhausen, 1687), 62–3; Placcius, De arte excerpendi, 84–5; Drexel, Aurifodina, 135.

      What earlier suggestions might there have been for creating indices for commonplaces?

    1. Definition of adversaria 1 : commentaries or notes (as on a text or document) 2 : a miscellaneous collection of notes, remarks, or selections : commonplace book
    1. I use the end-papers at the back of the book to make a personal index of the author's points in the order of their appearance.

      Interesting that he makes no reference to the commonplace book or zettelkasten traditions—particularly because we know he (later?) had an extensive system of index cards.

    1. What an awesome little site. Sadly no RSS to make it easy to follow, so bookmarking here.

      I like that she's titled her posts feed as a "notebook": https://telepathics.xyz/notebook. There's not enough content here (yet) to make a determination that they're using it as a commonplace book though.

      Someone in the IndieWeb chat pointed out an awesome implementation of "stories" she's got on her personal site: https://telepathics.xyz/notes/2020/new-york-city-friends-food-sights/

      I particularly also like the layout and presentation of her Social Media Links page which has tags for the types of content as well as indicators for which are no longer active.

      This makes me wonder if I could use tags on some of my links to provide CSS styling on them to do the same thing for inactive services?

    1. Reflecting upon Robert Darnton's comment, perhaps my personal reading and writing style is more representative of the seventeenth century than the twentieth or twenty-first.  Throughout my career in the antiquarian book trade, which began in the 1960s, I found myself moving between subjects in the course of a day as I catalogued various books in stock, read about other books for sale, or discussed the different interests of clients.  With access to the Internet in the 1990s it was, of course, possible to follow-up more efficiently on diverse topics with Internet searches and hyperlinks.  The way that HistoryofInformation.com is written, as a series of reading and research notes connected by links and indexed in a database, may be viewed to a certain extent as analogous to the method of maintaining and indexing commonplace books described by Locke.

      Jeremy Norman, an antiquarian bookseller, indicates that his website is written in much the same manner as John Locke's commonplace book.

    1. I go through my old posts every day. I know that much – most? – of them are not for the ages. But some of them are good. Some, I think, are great. They define who I am. They're my outboard brain.

      Cory Doctorow calls his blog and its archives his "outboard brain".

    2. First and foremost, I do it for me. The memex I've created by thinking about and then describing every interesting thing I've encountered is hugely important for how I understand the world. It's the raw material of every novel, article, story and speech I write.

      On why Cory Doctorow keeps a digital commonplace book.

    3. My composition is greatly aided both 20 years' worth of mnemonic slurry of semi-remembered posts and the ability to search memex.craphound.com (the site where I've mirrored all my Boing Boing posts) easily. A huge, searchable database of decades of thoughts really simplifies the process of synthesis.

      Cory Doctorow's commonplace makes it easier to search, quote, and reuse in his process of synthesis.

    1. In this spirit he castigated Alexander Harden as "an enemy of the spirit that was fed by a small mind with a large card index," taking up what appears to have been a common criticism of the author, who because of his style that relied overly much on quotations [Die Fackel, Heft 360-62 (1912)].

      Some of this critique relates to my classification about the sorts of notes that one takes. Some are more important or valuable than others.

      Some are for recall and later memory, some may be collection of ideas, but the highest seems to be linking different ideas and contexts together to create completely new and innovative ideas. If one is simply collecting sententiae and spewing them back out in reasonable contexts, this isn't as powerful as nurturing one's ideas to have sex.

    1. Scholars well grounded in this regime, like Isaac Casaubon, spun tough, efficient webs of notes around the texts of their books and in their notebooks—hundreds of Casaubon’s books survive—and used them to retrieve information about everything from the religion of Greek tragedy to Jewish burial practices.

      What was the form of his system? From where did he learn it? What does it show about the state of the art for his time?

    2. Manuals such as Jeremias Drexel’s “Goldmine”—the frontispiece of which showed a scholar taking notes opposite miners digging for literal gold—taught students how to condense and arrange the contents of literature by headings.

      Likely from Aurifondina artium et scientiarum omnium excerpendi solerti, omnibus litterarum amantibus monstrata. worldcat

      h/t: https://hyp.is/tz3lBmznEeyvEmOX-B5DxQ/infocult.typepad.com/infocult/2007/11/future-reading-.html

    1. But this is not the main reason. The other three programs try to achieve the connection or linking between different topics or cards (mainly) by assigning keywords. But this is not what Luhmann's approach recommended. While he did have a register of keywords, this was certainly not the most important way of interconnecting his slips. He linked them by direct references (Verweisungen). Any slip could refer directly to the physical and unchanging location of any other slip.

      Niklas Luhmann's zettelkasten had three different forms of links.

      • The traditional keyword index/link from the commonplace book tradition
      • A parent/child link upon first placing the idea into the system (except when starting a new top level parent)
      • A direct link (Verweisungen) to one or more ideas already in the index card catalog.

      Many note taking systems are relying on the older commonplace book taxonomies and neglect or forego both of the other two sorts of links. While the second can be safely subsumed as a custom, one-time version of the third, the third version is the sort of link which helps to create a lot of direct value within a note taking system as the generic links between broader topic heading names can be washed out over time as the system grows.

      Was this last link type included in Konrad Gessner's version? If not, at what point in time did this more specific direct link evolve?

  6. Dec 2021
    1. Considering the absence of a systematic order, we must regulate the process of rediscovery of notes, for we cannot rely on our memory of numbers. (The alternation of numbers and alphabetic characters in numbering the slips helps memory and is an optical aid when we search for them, but it is insufficient. Therefore we need a register of keywords that we constantly update.

      Luhmann indicated that one must keep a register of keywords to assist in the rediscovery of notes. This had been the standard within the commonplacing tradition for centuries before him. The potential subtle difference is that he seems to place more value on the placement links between cards as well as other specific links between cards over these subject headings.

      Is it possible to tell from his system which sets of links were more valuable to him? Were there more of these topical heading links than other non-topical heading links between individual cards?

    1. In fact, the methodical use of notebooks changed the relationship between natural memory and artificial memory, although contemporaries did not immediately realize it. Historical research supports the idea that what was once perceived as a memory aid was now used as secondary memory.18

      During the 16th century there was a transition in educational centers from using the natural and artificial memories to the methodical use of notebooks and commonplace books as a secondary memory saved by means of writing.

      This allows people in some sense to "forget" what they've read and learned and be surprised by it again later. They allow themselves to create liminal memories which may be refreshed and brought to the center later. Perhaps there is also some benefit in this liminal memory for allowing ideas to steep on the periphery before using them. Perhaps combinatorial creativity happens unconsciously?

      Cross reference: learning research by Barbara Oakley and Terry Sejnowski.

    2. Commonplaces were no longer repositories of redundancy, but devices for storing knowledge expansion.

      With the invention of the index card and atomic, easily moveable information that can be permuted and re-ordered, the idea of commonplacing doesn't simply highlight and repeat the older wise sayings (sententiae), but allows them to become repositories of new and expanding information. We don't just excerpt anymore, but mix the older thoughts with newer thoughts. This evolution creates a Cambrian explosion of ideas that helps to fuel the information overload from the 16th century onward.

    3. Simultaneously, there was a revival of the old art of excerpting and the use of commonplace books. Yet, the latter were perceived no longer as memory aids but as true secondary memo-ries. Scholars, in turn, became increasingly aware that to address the informa-tion overload produced by printing, the best solution was to train a card index instead of their own individual consciousness.

      Another reason for the downfall of older Western memory traditions is the increased emphasis and focus on the use of commonplaces and commonplace books in the late 1400s onward.

      Cross reference the popularity of manuals by Erasmus, Agricola, and Melanchthon.

    4. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the German Jesuit Jeremias Drexel noted that in the celebrated Justus Lipsius, one can find ‘tam copiosa, and illustris eruditio’ (a so abundant and glorious erudition) because the Flemish philosopher not only read many books; he also selected and ex-cerpted the best from them.5

      Jeremias Drexel, Aurifodina artium et scientiarum omnium. Excerpendi sollertia, omnibus lit-terarum amantibus monstrata (Antwerp, 1638), 18–19

    1. Talking about his process, he quoted the jazz pianist Keith Jarrett: “I connect every music-making experience I have, including every day here in the studio, with a great power, and if I do not surrender to it nothing happens.” During our conversations, Strong cited bits of wisdom from Carl Jung, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Karl Ove Knausgaard (he is a “My Struggle” superfan), Robert Duvall, Meryl Streep, Harold Pinter (“The more acute the experience, the less articulate its expression”), the Danish filmmaker Tobias Lindholm, T. S. Eliot, Gustave Flaubert, and old proverbs (“When fishermen cannot go to sea, they mend their nets”). When I noted that he was a sponge for quotations, he turned grave and said, “I’m not a religious person, but I think I’ve concocted my own book of hymns.”

      Based on the collection of quotes and proverbs it sounds more like he's got his own commonplace book which he uses to inform his acting process. Sounds almost like he uses them so frequently that he's memorized many of them.

      Interesting that he refers to them as "hymns".

      Compare this with Eminem's "stacking ammo" for a particular use case.

      h/t to Kevin Marks for directing me to this article for this.

    1. From 1676 onward, he follows an excerpting practice that directly refers to Jungius (via one of his students). Regarding Leibniz ’ s Excerpt Cabinet He wrote on slips of paper whatever occurred to him — in part when perusing books, in part during meditation or travel or out on walks — yet he did not let the paper slips (particularly the excerpts) cover each other in a mess; it was his habit to sort through them every now and then.

      According to one of his students, Leibniz used his note cabinet both for excerpts that he took from his reading as well as notes an ideas he came up separately from his reading.

      Most of the commonplace book tradition consisted of excerpting, but when did note taking practice begin to aggregate de novo notes with commonplaces?

    2. It is an important fact that the Bibliotheca Universalis addresses a dual audience with this technology of indexing: on the one hand, it aims at librarians with its extensive and far-reaching bibliography; on the other hand, it goes to didactic lengths to instruct young scholars in the proper organization of their studies, that is, keeping excerpted material in useful order. In this dual aim, the Bibliotheca Universalis unites a scholar ’ s com-munication with library technology, before these directions eventually branch out into the activity of library professionals on the one hand and the private and discreet practices of scholarship on the other hand

      Konrad Gessner's Bibliotheca Universalis has two audiences: librarians for it's extensive bibliography and scholars for the instruction of how to properly organize their studies by excerpting material and keeping it in a useful order.

    3. Dominicus Nanus did in the Polyanthea

      Example of a commonplace book to look into

    4. The second volume of the Bibliotheca Universalis , published in 1548 under the title Pandectarum sive Partitionum Universalium , contains a list of keywords, ordered not by authors ’ names, but thematically. This intro-duces a classifi cation of knowledge on the one hand, and on the other hand offers orientation for the novice about patterns and keywords (so-called loci communes ) that help organize knowledge to be acquired.

      Konrad Gessner's second edition of Bibliotheca Universalis in 1548 contains a list of keywords (loci communes) thus placing it into the tradition of the commonplace book, but as it is published for use by others, it accelerates the ability for others to find and learn about information in which they may have an interest.

      Was there a tradition of published or manuscript commonplace books prior to this?

  7. Nov 2021
    1. On the other hand, paremiologists seldom specify "definitions"-much less ori- gins-of proverbial expressions that they collect, for the simple reason that so little can be known with certainty.

      Paremiology (from Greek παροιμία (paroimía) 'proverb, maxim, saw') is the collection and study of proverbs.

      Paremiography is the collection of proverbs.

    1. https://www.amazon.com/Blog-Paper-Advanced-Taking-Technology/dp/1926892100/

      Doing some research for my Paper Website / Blog.

      Similar to some of the pre-printed commonplace books of old particularly with respect to the tag and tag index sections.

      I sort of like that it is done in a way that makes it useful for general life even if one isn't going to use it as a "blog".

      How can I design mine to be easily photographed and transferred to an actual blog, particularly with Micropub in mind?

      Don't forget space for the blog title and tagline. What else might one put on the front page(s) for identity? Name, photo, address, lost/found info, website URL (naturally)...

      Anything else I might want to put in the back besides an category index or a tag index? (Should it have both?)

    1. By examining works by Shakespeare, Spenser, Montaigne, and others, he dispels the notion of literary texts as static or closed, and instead demonstrates how the unsettled conventions of early print culture fostered an idea of books as interactive and malleable.

      Jeffrey Todd Knight in Bound to read: Compilations, Collections, and the Making of Renaissance Literature examines the works of various writers to dispel the notion of literary texts as static. He shows how the evolution of early print culture helped to foster the idea as interactive and malleable. This at a time when note takers and writers would have been using commonplacing techniques at even smaller scales for creating their own writing thus creating a similar pattern from the smaller scale to the larger scale.

      This pattern of small notes building into larger items with rearrangement which is seen in Carl Linnaeus' index card-based notes as well as his longer articles/writings and publication record over time as well.

    2. In Bound to Read, Jeffrey Todd Knight excavates this culture of compilation—of binding and mixing texts, authors, and genres into single volumes—and sheds light on a practice that not only was pervasive but also defined the period's very ways of writing and thinking.
    3. In this early period of print, before the introduction of commercial binding, most published literary texts did not stand on shelves in discrete, standardized units. They were issued in loose sheets or temporarily stitched—leaving it to the purchaser or retailer to collect, configure, and bind them.

      In the early history of printing, books weren't as we see them now, instead they were issued in loose sheets or with temporary stitching allowing the purchaser or retailer to collect, organize, and bind them. This pattern occurs at a time when one would have been thinking about collecting, writing, and organizing one's notes in a commonplace book or other forms. It is likely a pattern that would have influenced this era of note taking practices, especially among the most literate who were purchasing and using books.

    4. This looks interesting with respect to the flows of the history of commonplace books.

      Making the Miscellany: Poetry, Print, and the History of the Book in Early Modern England by Megan Heffernan

    1. Journalist John Dickerson [https://twitter.com/jdickerson/status/1458036871531937798 indicates] that he uses [[Instagram]] as a commonplace: https://www.instagram.com/jfdlibrary/ where he keeps a collection of photo "cards" with quotes from famous people rather than photos. He also keeps collections there of photos of notes from scraps of paper as well as photos of [[annotation]]s he makes in books.

    1. Reporter John Dickerson talking about his notebook.

      While he doesn't mention it, he's capturing the spirit of the commonplace book and the zettelkasten.

      [...] I see my job as basically helping people see and to grab ahold of what's going on.

      You can decide to do that the minute you sit down to start writing or you can just do it all the time. And by the time you get to writing you have a notebook full of stuff that can be used.

      And it's not just about the thing you're writing about at that moment or the question you're going to ask that has to do with that week's event on Face the Nation on Sunday.

      If you've been collecting all week long and wondering why a thing happens or making an observation about something and using that as a piece of color to explain the political process to somebody, then you've been doing your work before you ever sat down to do your work.

      <div style="padding:56.25% 0 0 0;position:relative;"><iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/169725470?h=778a09c06f&title=0&byline=0&portrait=0" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; fullscreen; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe></div><script src="https://player.vimeo.com/api/player.js"></script>

      Field Notes: Reporter's Notebook from Coudal Partners on Vimeo.

    1. I’ve been casually looking into WordPress themes designed for news websites since they’re often broken into categories, but haven’t found anything I liked so far.

      I haven't had time to look into it yet, but Piper has a custom WordPress theme she's created specifically for commonplace books: https://github.com/piperhaywood/commonplace-wp-theme

    1. acon favored the latter as “of far more profitW and use” Squotedin “tpW” pY ae‘TY

      Francis Bacon preferred commonplaces (quotes under topical headings) to adversaria (summaries) as they were "of far more profit, and use".

      Note that other references equate these two types of notes: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/adversaria

    2. wn a looser sense the term is also used to designate notes of any kindW as in the tdvY shelfmark inthe qambridge ˆniversity zibrary reserved for books containing marginal annotationsi see ̧illiam vY `hermanW –ohn weem The Politics of Reading and Writing in the xnglish RenaissanceSomherstW ffassYW ]ggcTW ppY dc–ddY

      "Adv." (standing for adversaria) is a shelfmark in the Cambridge University Library that is used for books which contain marginal annotations.

    3. trancis pacon outlined the two principal methods ofnote taking in a letter of advice to tulke urevilleW who was seeking to hireone or more research assistants in qambridge around ]cggh “ve that shallout of his own ”eading gather [notes] for the use of anotherW must Sas wthinkT do it by spitomeW or obridgmentW or under veads and qommonfllacesY spitomes may also be of ‘ sortsh of any one ortW or part of ynowledgeout of many pooksi or of one pook by itselfY”

      Quoted in Vernon F Snow “Ftrancis Bacon's Advice to Fulke Greville on Research Techniques," Huntington Library Quarterly 23, no.4 (1960): 370.

    4. wn written cultures material is typically sorted alphabeticallySor by some other method of linguistic ordering such as the number ofstrokes in qhinese charactersTW or systematicallyW according to various sysXtems that strive to map or hierarchize the relations between the items storedSincluding those of uoogle or ffiahooTW or miscellaneouslyY

      What about the emergence of non-hierarchal methods? (Can these logically be sorted somehow without this structure?)

      With digital commonplacing methods, I find that I can sort and search for things temporally by date and time as well as by tag/heading.

      Cross reference:

  8. Oct 2021
    1. Jacobean gentleman Henry Peacham wrote in his treatise ‘The Gentleman’s Exercise’ (1612; left) ‘The making of ordinary Lamp blacke. Take a torch or linke, and hold it under the bottome of a latten basen, and as it groweth to be furd and blacke within, strike it with a feather into some shell or other, and grinde it with gumme water.”

      I've run across Henry Peacham, the younger, in other contexts and his father within the context of rhetoric and commonplacing.

    1. Holiday’s is project-based, or bucket-based.

      Ryan Holiday's system is a more traditional commonplace book approach with broad headings which can feel project-based or bucket-based and thus not as flexible or useful to some users.

    2. A lot of the literature and shorter articles out there treat many of these systems as recent or "new inventions". Many reference "innovators" like Ryan Holiday or Niklas Luhmann. They patently are not. They've grown out of the Western commonplace book tradition which were traditionally written into books underneath thematic headings (tags/categories in modern digital parlance) until it became cheap enough to mass manufacture Carl Linnaeus' earlier innovation of the index cards in the early 1900s. Then one could more easily rerarrange their ideas with these cards. Luhmann allowed uniquely addressing his cards which made things easier to link. Now there are about thirty different groups working on creating digital tools to do this work, some under the heading of creating "digital gardens".

      Often I think it may be easier to go back to some of the books of Erasmus, Melanchthon, or Agricola in the 1500s which described these systems for use in education. Sadly Western culture seems to have lost these traditions and we now find ourselves spending an inordinate amount of time reinventing them.

      I'd love to hear your experience in re-introducing it to students in modern educational settings.

    3. I’ve been trying for the last year and a half to implement Ryan Holiday’s great index-card filing system for keeping ideas in place.

      I don't like the common framing I see in posts like this that want to credit a particular person for "inventing" a pattern like these that goes back centuries. The fact that we've lost these patterns is a terrible travesty.

    4. I’m not going to post them at this point in this post, because I want to save you from my experience: I spent three hours one day watching videos and reading links and posting on message boards and reading the replies, and that doesn’t include the year and a half I spent half-heartedly trying to understand the system. I’ll also only post the links that really made sense to me.

      It shouldn't take people hours a day with multiple posts, message boards, reading replies, and excessive research to implement a commonplace book. Herein lies a major problem with these systems. They require a reasonable user manual.

      One of the reasons I like the idea of public digital gardens is that one can see directly how others are using the space in a more direct and active way. You can see a system in active use and figure out which parts do or don't work or resonate with you.

    5. Weirdly, in the master of fine arts classes I’ve taught so far, there’s never been a single class on how to store and access your research.

      The fact that there generally aren't courses in high school or college about how to better store and access one's research is a travesty. I feel like there are study skills classes, but they seem to be geared toward strategies and not implemented solutions.

    1. What I'm interested in is doing this with visual artefacts as source material. What does visual pkm look like? Journaling, scrapbooking, collecting and the like. The most obvious tool is the sketchbook. How does a sketchbook work?

      It builds on many of these traditions, but there is a rather sizeable movement in the physical world as well as lots online of sketchnotes which might fit the bill for you Roy.

      The canonical book/textbook for the space seems to be Sketchnote Handbook, The: the illustrated guide to visual note taking by Mike Rohde.

      For a solid overview of the idea in about 30 minutes, I found this to be a useful video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evLCAYlx4Kw

  9. Sep 2021
    1. I think it’s valuable to add some initial thinking and reflection when I bookmark an article or finish reading a book, but haven’t yet figured out a process for revisiting recent notes to find connections and turn that into longer or more complex thought.

      This is definitely the harder part of the practice, but daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual reviews can definitely help.

      To start I primarily focused on 3-5 broader sub-topics of things I felt were most important to me and always did those first. This helps to begin aggregating things and making a bigger difference. The rest of my smaller "fleeting" notes I didn't worry so much about and left to either come back to later or just allow them to sit there.

      I think Sonke Ahrens' book How to Take Smart Notes was fairly helpful in laying this out.

      Incidentally the spaced repetition of review is also good for your memory of the things you find important.

    1. I love this outline/syllabus for creating a commonplace book (as a potential replacement for a term paper).

      I'd be curious to see those who are using Hypothes.is as a communal reading tool in coursework utilize this outline (or similar ones) in combination with their annotation practices.

      Curating one's annotations and placing them into a commonplace book or zettelkasten would be a fantastic rhetorical exercise to extend the value of one's notes and ideas.

    2. For example, I will be keeping my own Commonplace Book this semester, and because of my particular research interests I may include headings such as “Cosmetics,” “Perfume,” “Odors,” and “Cannibalism.”

      Based on these headings, I think it would be quite interesting to read her commonplace, but I suspect the heading Cannibalism is a sly side-reference to Montaigne's own "Des cannibales".

    3. I will be looking for your conscious choice in your entry selections, dedicated organizational patterns and curation techniques, self-reflection and thoughtful responses in your short writing exercises, and as a whole, your engagement with and understanding of our various texts.

      Focus on some of the conscious choices, organization and curation are pieces missing from modern digital note taking space in talking about digital gardens and zettelkasten.

    4. Please include only quotations, and a brief bibliographic reference. Do not add commentary explaining why you like or chose a particular quotation. (e.g. Hieronimo in The Spanish Tragedy 3.2.1-15, or Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy 3.2.1-15,or evenas simple asThe Spanish Tragedy 3.2.1-15).

      She's a bit over-prescriptive here in terms of the form a commonplace book should contain. In particular, she seems to be holding to the form up to the 17th Century. Personally in a classroom exercise, I wouldn't include this particular limitation.

    5. ☞An index(the final pages of the Commonplace Book) of at least 20 words. The index will be listed alphabetically (or thematically, then alphabetically) by your commonplace book headings with page numbers. You may decide to also add cross-references to authors, other frequently appearing terms that were not heading chapters, etc. (Figure 9)

      One might also suggest the use of John Locke's method here: See: https://publicdomainreview.org/collection/john-lockes-method-for-common-place-books-1685

    6. ☞(excerpts) Beal, Peter. Dictionary of English Manuscript Terminology: 1450 to 2000.Oxford, GB: OUP Oxford, 2007. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 19 December 2016.☞Lesser, Zachary and Peter Stallybrass. “The First Literary Hamlet and the Commonplacing of Professional Plays.” Shakespeare Quarterly, (2008), 371–420.☞Smyth, Adam. “Commonplace Book Culture: A List of Sixteen Traits.” Women and Writing, c.1340-c.1650: The Domestication of Print Culture. Manuscript Culture in the British Isles. Eds. Lawrence-Mathers, A. and Hardman, P. Rochester, U.S.: Boydell and Brewer, 90-110.☞Summers, David. “—the proverb is something musty: The Commonplace and Epistemic Crisis in Hamlet.”Hamlet Studies 20.1-2(1998): 9-34.

      sources to add to my reading list, if not already there

    7. Each class session on the syllabus in whichwe discussQ1 Hamlet(WEEKS 2-3), please cometo each class with two index cards withquotations of yourchoosing, andwith possible headings for such a quotation. On certain class sessions, I may give you more of a prompt, such as: to choose a line or phrase that is part of our everyday speech that youencounteredin Hamlet; orto cite a line from the major avengersof the scenes we discuss that day; etc. I will also be writing lines on index cards;we will share these in class, I will collect the cards, and returnthem the following class session.

      An example of a teacher using index cards as a "low stakes" commonplace. The added benefit is that they can be passed around and shared as well.

    8. We may think of Pinterest as a visual form of commonplacing, as people choose and curate images (and very often inspirational quotations) that they find motivating, educational, or idealistic(Figure 6). Whenever we choose a passage to cite while sharing an article on Facebook or Twitter, we are creating a very public commonplace book on social media. Every time wepost favorite lyrics from a song or movie to social media or ablog, weare nearing the concept of Renaissance commonplace book culture.

      I'm not the only one who's thought this. Pinterest, Facebook, twitter, (and other social media and bookmarking software) can be considered a form of commonplace.

    1. Some interesting finds Josh.

      Related to some of the bullet journal (aka BuJo) and journaling space you will eventually come across the idea of "morning pages" which is a technique where you spend a block of time (usually in the morning, but ideally just before you want to do your creative thinking work) where you write for a set amount of time or number of pages. The goal of this method (and to some extent bullet journaling) is to clear the cruft and extraneous details out of your head to be able to better prioritize and focus on your creative work. There's a relatively large group of people doing this as a technique, so even knowing the phrase can help one to find the literature.

      Tangentially related to this and memory (via our old friend rhetoric), I've been doing some significant research into the commonplace book tradition and general note taking with an eye towards knowledge acquisition, creation, and spaced repetition systems. This has led into research into the areas of the zettelkasten, digital note taking, digital gardens and the like. All fascinating areas which overlap memory via rhetoric. I suspect that many mnemonists in the Renaissance used commonplace books as physical written memory palaces, though I've yet to find anything in my research that directly links them other than the relationship they have in the long tradition of rhetoric in Western culture. Since you mention music and writing lyrics, I recently noted that Eminem has a commonplace technique which he calls "stacking ammo" by which he compiles ideas for his lyrics. His method is certainly less structured than a traditional commonplace book, but the overall form traces back to our friends Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilian.

      If you delve into some of the Bullet Journal and journaling literature you'll find a subculture of people (YouTube has hundreds of people with entire channels dedicated to the topic) who write into their daily/weekly planners and decorate them with stickers, washi tape, photos, calligraphy, drawings, etc. I've called some of this "productivity porn" before, but if you search commonplace book on Instagram or Pinterest you'll find examples of people whose journals and notes are becoming physical memory palaces where the visuals are likely helping them remember portions of their lives or what they're writing. The stickers and images to some extent are serving the purpose of drolleries seen in Medieval manuscripts as mnemonic devices.

      And finally, tangentially related to all of this is another interesting sub-genre of memory and note taking called sketchnotes which combines active listening, writing, and drawing into a mnemonic related note taking activity. I'm actually a bit surprised to find so little on the technique here on the forum. Searching for sketchnotes on social media will provide lots of examples and there are many "What are sketchnotes" short videos on YouTube that will give you an idea of what's going on. Many of these talk about a memory component, but not being mired into the sub-topic of rhetoric, they're usually not using the same framings we would (here on the forum), though the effects one might expect are the same.

      Some related richer resources for these areas, to help people from going down the rabbit hole within the performative social media spaces:

      • How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking–for Students, Academics and Nonfiction Book Writers by Sönke Ahrens
        • This touches on note taking within a zettelkasten framing, but is also applicable to the commonplace book tradition
      • Sketchnote Handbook, The: the illustrated guide to visual note taking by Mike Rohde
        • This is one of the bibles in the space and gives a solid overview of what, why, how, etc.
      • A Brief History & Ethos of the Digital Garden by Maggie Appleton
    1. In other words, as far as technologies go, the book endures for very good reason. Books work.

      Aside from reading words to put ideas into my brain, one of the reasons I like to read digital words is that the bigger value proposition for me is an easier method to add annotations to what I'm reading and then to be able to manipulate those notes after-the-fact. I've transcended books and the manual methods of note taking. Until I come up with a better word for it, digital commonplacing seems to be a useful shorthand for this new pattern of reading.

    1. ethodists, the Evangelicals took up the theme. Hannah More contributed her own imperishable lines on "Early Rising": Thou silent murderer, Sloth, no more My mind imprison'd keep; Nor let me waste another hour With thee, thou felon Sleep.10

      The number of quotes and passages here makes me wonder what his sources were and how he came to them?

      Did he keep a commonplace book and collect references on time? Find them via other's or from published collections? The number and types of them, particularly in the non-technical literature he's citing makes me think that something like a commonplace pattern is being leveraged here.

    1. As the title of a research paper that the Vallée-Tourangeaus wrote with Lisa G. Guthrie puts it, “Moves in the World Are Faster Than Moves in the Head.”

      Perhaps this is some of the value behind the ability to resort index cards within a zettelkasten over the prior staticness of the commonplace tradition? The ideas aren't anchored to the page, but can be moved around, rearranged.

    1. https://via.hypothes.is/https://finiteeyes.net/pedagogy/extending-the-mind/

      A well written review of Annie Murphy Paul's The Extended Mind. Matthew Cheney has distilled a lot out of the book from his notes with particular application to improving pedagogy.

      I definitely want to read this with relation to not only using it to improve teaching, but with respect to mnemotechniques and the methods oral and indigenous societies may have either had things right or wrong and what Western culture may have lost as a result. I'm also particularly interested in it for its applications to the use of commonplace books and zettelkasten as methods of extending the mind and tools for thought.

    2. 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

    3. To use your brain well, get out of your brain. Paul calls this offloading. To think well, she says, “we should offload information, externalize it, move it out of our heads and into the world” (243).

      This is certainly what is happening in the commonplace book tradition and even more explicitly in the zettelkasten tradition.

      What other methods of offloading exist besides writing and speaking? Hand gestures? Dance? What hidden modalities of offloading might indigenous societies use that Western culture might not be cognizant of?

      Often journaling or writing in a diary is a often a means of offloading the psychological cruft of one's day to be able to start afresh.

      This is some of the philosophy behind creating so-called "morning pages".

    1. In this episode I discuss my experience with the niche and extremely powerful note-taking system known as the Zettelkasten.

      The word "niche" here provides a window into how much of our cultural history we've really lost.

    1. ... @ChrisAldrich Have you read Montaigne? Regarding: I love this outline/syllabus for creating a commonplace book (as a potential replacement for a term paper). I’d be curious to see those who are using http://Hypothes.is as a social ...

      Certainement... I wish I had a commonplace ceiling!

  10. neilcommonplacebook.wordpress.com neilcommonplacebook.wordpress.com
    1. Mine is a 21st century commonplace book, no more and no less. No other purpose. Just a voice, a collection, a series of letters to whom they may concern. What more do you want? I have started a new blog because I want to recapture that simple purpose.

      Example of a blogger using WordPress to create a digital commonplace book: https://neilcommonplacebook.wordpress.com/about-2/

  11. Aug 2021
    1. there are very few medieval scenes in which someone is reading but not writing—where books are present but pens are not. In part, this has to do with medieval study practices. Readers would usually have a pen nearby even when they were just reading. After all, remarks and critiques needed to be added to the margin at the spur of the moment. “Penless” images, while rare, often show a crowded desktop.

      Images of Medieval reading practices generally pictured pens along with books. In the rare cases where pens were not included, the desks pictured were messy and thus covered up the pens involved.

    1. Stitched together over five years of journaling, Obiter Dicta is a commonplace book of freewheeling explorations representing the transcription of a dozen notebooks, since painstakingly reimagined for publication.
    1. Let us take down one of those old notebooks which we have all, at one time or another, had a passion for beginning. Most of the pages are blank, it is true; but at the beginning we shall find a certain number very beautifully covered with a strikingly legible handwriting….here we have copied out fine passages from the classics;…here, most interesting of all, lists of books that have actually been read, as the reader testifies with some youthful vanity by a dash of red ink. ~ Virginia Woolf, “Hours in a Library”
    1. commonplace tabulae effectively functioned as memory aids to beused in conjunction with other texts and the direct observation of objects.

      The commonplace tabulae created by Linnaeus used spatial layout which also served as memory aids.

    2. Although the popularity of Linnaeus’s works are sometimes attributedto genius of his system, such economic and practical advantages of his topically arrangedPhilosophiasuggest that the success of his book also may be linked to the fact that his readersfound his commonplace practices familiar and, hence, memorable.