264 Matching Annotations
  1. Last 7 days
    1. The spider web system was, in fact, a work in progress; the resulting hypertext was designed to be open-ended.

      One's lifetime of notes could be thought of as a hypertext work in progress that is designed to be open-ended.

    2. As memory models, rhetorical storehouses and archives are functional equivalents. Both are used as devices for storing and retriev-ing knowledge.

      Mnemonic (mental) storehouses (thesaurus) and written archives are functionally equivalent and serve to store and retrieve information. Their primary difference is in the effort put into how one applies their attention to them. The former requires more mental effort into storing information into the location and then recalling it.

      In the case of archives with subject indices, they require less mental effort and visually serve a potential store of variety and ease of creating additional links between bits of knowledge.

    3. Jean Paul invented a similar system and called it Witz. Like Tesauro, Jean Paul considered that the matter was to cede a prearranged ge-ography of places where everything had its own seat but was also compelled to remain in its own seat without possible deviation. The dismantlement of this architecture was required to change the rhetorical invention--that is, the retrieval of what is already known but has been forgotten--into an invention in the modern, scientific sense of the term.73 Also similar to Tesauro, accord-ing to Jean Paul, such an invention or discovery could occur only through the jumbled recording of notes taken from readings (or, from personal reflections) and retrievable by means of a subject index. By searching and recombining, the compiler would have put into practice the chance principle on which the whole knowledge storage mechanism was based; he would have likely discov-ered similarities and connections between remote items that he would have otherwise overlooked.

      73 Cf. Götz Müller, Jean Pauls Exzerpte (Würzburg, 1988), 321–22

      I'm not quite sure I understand what the mechanism of this is specifically. Revisit it later. Sounds like it's using the set up the system not only to discover the adjacent possible but the remote improbable.

    4. ike Jungius, Boyle made use of loose folio sheets that he called memorials or adversaria; yet he did not worry too much about a system of self-referential relationships that enabled intentional knowl-edge retrieval. When he realized that he was no longer able to get his bearings in an ocean of paper slips, he looked for a way out, testing several devices, such as colored strings or labels made of letters and numeral codes. Unfortunately, it was too late. As Richard Yeo clearly noted, ‘this failure to develop an effective indexing system resulted from years of trusting in memory in tandem with notes’.69

      69 Yeo, ‘Loose Notes’, 336

      Robert Boyle kept loose sheets of notes, which he called memorials or adversaria. He didn't have a system of organization for them and tried out variations of colored strings, labels made of letters, and numerical codes. Ultimately his scrap heap failed him for lack of any order and his trust in memory to hold them together failed.

      I love the idea of calling one's notes adversaria. The idea calls one to compare one note to another as if they were combatants in a fight (for truth).

      Are working with one's ideas able to fit into the idea of adversarial interoperability?

    5. Well studied personal experiences, such as those of Joachim Jungius, Robert Boyle, and Secondo Lancellotti,59 represent outstanding exam-ples

      I want to take a look at these systems.

    6. Christoph Meinel, ‘Enzyklopädie der Welt und Verzettelung des Wissens: Aporien der Empirie bei Joachim Jungius’, in Enzyklopädien der frühen Neuzeit. Beiträge zu ihrer Er-forschung, ed. Franz M. Eybl (Tübingen, 1995), 162–87; Richard Yeo, ‘Loose Notes and Ca-pacious Memory: Robert Boyle’s Note-Taking and its Rationale’, Intellectual History Review 20 (2010), 335–54; Alberto Cevolini, ‘The Art of trascegliere e notare in Early Modern Ital-ian Culture’, Intellectual History Review 29 (2019), forthcoming.
    7. That is why Francis Bacon was rather skeptical about the possibility that excerpts might be shared among scholars. His opinion was that ‘in general, one man’s Notes will little profit another, because one man’s Conceit doth so much differ from another’s; and because the bare Note itself is nothing so much worth, as the suggestion it gives the Reader’.47

      See Bacon’s letter to Greville examined by Vernon Snow, ‘Francis Bacon’s Advice to Fulke Greville on Research Techniques’, Huntington Library Quarterly 23 (1960), 369–78, at 374

      This is similar in tone but for slightly differing reasons to Mortimer J. Adler recommending against loaning one's annotated books to other users. (see: https://hypothes.is/a/6x75DnXBEeyUyEOjgj_zKg)

    8. The matter is not sim-ply, as in the case of libraries and archives, handling the usually rather tricky language of the indexer,

      Modern digital indices have the ability to easily create aliases so that similar or related headings might be concatenated. As an example, I might have four different variations of R. Llull's name in my system or English and Latin versions of names like "excerpting" and "ars excerptendi" which can be mapped to the same endpoints without worrying about the existence of synonyms.

    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. ow about using a scratch pad slightly smaller than the page-size of the book -- so that the edges of the sheets won't protrude?

      Interesting to note here that he suggests a scratch pad rather than index cards here given his own personal use of index cards.

    2. There are all kinds of devices for marking a book intelligently and fruitfully. Here's the way I do it: • Underlining (or highlighting): of major points, of important or forceful statements. • Vertical lines at the margin: to emphasize a statement already underlined. • Star, asterisk, or other doo-dad at the margin: to be used sparingly, to emphasize the ten or twenty most important statements in the book. (You may want to fold the bottom comer of each page on which you use such marks. It won't hurt the sturdy paper on which most modern books are printed, and you will be able take the book off the shelf at any time and, by opening it at the folded-corner page, refresh your recollection of the book.) • Numbers in the margin: to indicate the sequence of points the author makes in developing a single argument. • Numbers of other pages in the margin: to indicate where else in the book the author made points relevant to the point marked; to tie up the ideas in a book, which, though they may be separated by many pages, belong together. • Circling or highlighting of key words or phrases. • Writing in the margin, or at the top or bottom of the page, for the sake of: recording questions (and perhaps answers) which a passage raised in your mind; reducing a complicated discussion to a simple statement; recording the sequence of major points right through the books. 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.

      Mortimer J. Adler's method of annotating a text.

      He's primarily giving the author and their ideas all the power and importance here.

      There is nothing, so far, about immediate progressive summarization. There's also little about the reuse of one's notes for analysis and future synthesis, which I find surprising.

      Earlier in the essay he mentions picking the book up later to refresh one's memory, but there's nothing about linking the ideas from one book to another.

  2. Jan 2022
    1. <small><cite class='h-cite via'> <span class='p-author h-card'> Alexander Wang </span> in Alexander Wang on Twitter: "After discovering the idea of "A Meta-Layer for Notes" (https://t.co/EioyyptzCb), I started to try reading in this way ↓. https://t.co/lOhRyeytXZ" / Twitter (<time class='dt-published'>01/11/2022 09:15:59</time>)</cite></small>

    2. You could write down notes like this in a separate notebook, but then you’d lose the connection to the source they are based on. What makes post-it notes so interesting is the spatial relationship between the notes and their respective context.

      Sticky notes or Post-It notes create a physical and spatial relationship between the note and its context. This same sort of relationship is recreated by taking notes in Hypothes.is which links the note or idea directly to the part of the web page or document which spurred it. Moving these notes into other platforms (Roam Research, Obsidian, etc.) can be done in a way so as to keep the physical link (using URLs) so that one can quickly and easily revisit the original context if necessary.

      This affordance is an incredibly useful one which is generally neglected in the note taking space.

      How often in practice is this done though?

    1. Markoff, a long-time chronicler of computing, sees Engelbart as one pole in a decades-long competition "between artificial intelligence and intelligence augmentation -- A.I. versus I.A."

      There is an interesting difference between artificial intelligence and intelligence automation. Index cards were already doing the second by the early 1940s.

    1. Moving my (web) reading list to sticky notes because I never remember to check it on my computer.

      Wall with stickie note sized print outs taped to it. They contain a QR code, presumably linking to the thing they want to read with a Title and author below it.

    1. Seneca on Gathering Ideas by Manfred Kuehn on Monday, December 24, 2007 https://takingnotenow.blogspot.com/2007/12/seneca-on-gathering-ideas.html

      archive: https://web.archive.org/web/20201021191724/https://takingnotenow.blogspot.com/2007/12/seneca-on-gathering-ideas.html

      A quick look at how some of the ancient ideas of rhetoric may affect one's note taking and thinking. I love that this is one of his first posts on a blog on note taking. Too many miss this history.r

    2. 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.

    1. <small><cite class='h-cite via'> <span class='p-author h-card'>Manfred Kuehn</span> in Taking note: "How to take notes like an 'alpha-geek'" (<time class='dt-published'>12/31/2021 21:44:32</time>)</cite></small>

    2. https://tim.blog/2007/12/05/how-to-take-notes-like-an-alpha-geek-plus-my-2600-date-challenge/

      Tim Ferriss discuses some of his take on his note taking process. Nothing new or interesting here, though he seems to focus more on to do lists and follow up material for productivity purposes rather than remembering or connecting details after-the-fact and in the long term.

      He does outline and highly recommend having an index, but his version has a quirk of number pages as 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5 instead of a more straightforward whole number system. Presumably this save the time and effort of putting a number on each page, though one could just number either the even or odd pages this way if necessary and presume the missing numbers.

      Nothing really mind bending here.

    3. Cons: terrible for traveling and intimidating for interview subjects. The larger the pad, the more reserved interviewees will be.

      Experience shows that the larger the note taking pad, the less forthcoming a potential interviewee will be.

      Is this a cultural thing? Is it related to attorneys using large legal pads for taking notes versus journalists using longer, thinner, and smaller notebooks?

      Is there evidence of this in journalistic contexts?

    1. https://web.archive.org/web/20081030052305/http://www.solutionwatch.com/368/fifty-ways-to-take-notes/

      Mostly an historical list of online tools for note taking.

      No discussion of actual functionality or usefulness. Sounds more like for making to do lists and passing notes rather than long term knowledge management and upkeep. Nothing about the benefits of centralizing data in one place.


    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. I suspect Grafton translated the actual title, Aurifondina artium et scientiarum omnium excerpendi solerti, omnibus litterarum amantibus monstrata. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/11169213
    1. Hi Chris, I checked Chavigny’s book on the BNF site. He insists on the use of index cards (‘fiches’), how to index them, one idea per card but not how to connect between the cards and allow navigation between them. Mind that it’s written in 1919, in Strasbourg (my hometown) just one year after it returned to France. So between students who used this book and Luhman in Freiburg it’s not far away. My mother taught me how to use cards for my studies back in 1977, I still have the book where she learn the method, as Law student in Strasbourg “Comment se documenter”, by Roland Claude, 1961. Page 25 describes a way to build secondary index to receive all cards relatives to a topic by their number. Still Luhman system seems easier to maintain but very near. I’m not a fan of ZK myself. It was great before computers and Internet but it’s a lot of work and adds a lot of friction.

      Bruno Winck

      Reminder to look up Roland Claude. I couldn't find his work in the usual spaces in English or French.

    1. The Notetab-Zettelkasten has several major advantages over the paper-implementation: 1. It is much more difficult to misplace slips 1. It has a powerful search function

      Most digital note taking systems have two major advantages of paper versions:

      • It's harder to misplace material unless one's system has major flaws or one accidentally deletes content
      • Digital search is far more powerful and efficient than manual search
  3. takingnotenow.blogspot.com takingnotenow.blogspot.com
    1. What we Remember by Manfred Kuehn https://takingnotenow.blogspot.com/2007/12/

      archive: https://web.archive.org/web/20201021192005/https://takingnotenow.blogspot.com/2007/12/

      Dutch psychologist Wilem Wagenaar conducted memory related experiments on recollecting what, where, who, and when for the most interesting experiences of his days. It turned out that the "What?" was most useful followed by where? and who?, but that "when?" was "useless in every instance".

      p.116 of Stefan Klein, The Secret Pulse of Time: Making Sense of Life's Scarcest Commodity, Marlowe & Company, 2007, New York.

      Despite this, timestamps might serve other functions within a note taking system. The might include conceiving of ideas, temporal order of ideas presented, etc.

  4. Dec 2021
    1. I was suddenly deluged with ads for “the world’s thinnest tablet,” which promised not only to replace pen and paper but to help you “Get Your Brain Back.” The company’s Lovecraftian promotional ad, which has racked up nearly three million views, begins with a hissing demon-child clinging to her iPad and proceeds through an animated hellscape complete with attention-sucking brain tubes and notifications circling like sharks. The narrator quavers an ominous warning: “We have to modify technology, or else it will modify us.”

      Given the diversions of modern digital life, perhaps the best way to do one's writing is to do it at the moment of reading the actual references. Often while reading, one isn't as apt to have their attention diverted by the vagaries of life, instead they are focused on the thing at hand. It is while one has this focused attention that they should let their note taking practice while reading take over.

      Even if you are distracted, you can at least maintain focus on a single line of text and your thoughts related to it and write them down in either a summary sentence or with a few related ideas which are sparked by the initial idea.

      (This note is such an example.)

      Then one can start and complete a small idea at a time and then letting them build over time and space, then recollect them to create a piece which then doesn't need to be written and painfully created, but which may only need an outline structure and some final polish and editing.

    2. The experiments gradually meshed into a literary Rube Goldberg machine, a teetering assemblage of Scriveners and SimpleTexts that left me perpetually uncertain of which thought I’d written down where.

      The most solid basis of a note taking (reading, thinking, and writing) practice is having a central repository from which all material is linked and readily available. Having separate loci, especially digital ones, is a recipe for failure for the lack of the ability to find what you need when you need it.

    3. For a long time, I believed that my only hope of becoming a professional writer was to find the perfect tool.

      What exactly would be the ideal group of features in a writer's perfect tool? There are many out there for a variety of axes of production, but does anything cover it all?

      Functionality potentially for:

      • taking notes
      • collecting examples
      • memory
        • search or other means of pulling things up at their moment of need
      • outlining functionality
      • arranging and rearranging material
      • spellcheckers
      • grammar checkers
      • other?


      • easy of use
      • efficiency
      • productivity
  5. takingnotenow.blogspot.com takingnotenow.blogspot.com
    1. Not sure why Manfred Kuehn removed this website from Blogger, but it's sure to be chock full of interesting discussions and details on his note taking process and practice. Definitely worth delving back several years and mining his repository of articles here.

    1. Perhaps the best method would be to take notes—not excerpts, but condensed reformulations of what has been read.

      One of the best methods for technical reading is to create progressive summarizations of what one has read.

    1. As a result of extensive work with this technique a kind of secondary memory will arise, an alter ego with who we can constantly communicate.

      I want to look at the original German for this sentence, particularly with respect to the translation of the phrase "secondary memory". Is the translation semantic or literal? Might the original German have been a more literal "second brain"?

      Compare this to the one or two other examples of this sort of translation from the German.

    2. Bibliographical notes which we extract from the literature, should be captured inside the card index. Books, articles, etc., which we have actually read, should be put on a separate slip with bibliographical information in a separate box.

      Ross Ashby's note taking system, also within the field of systems theory, shows the use of an index card set up for bibliographical notes, however in Ashby's case, the primary notes were placed into notebooks and not onto note cards.

      Was there an ancestral link within the systems theory community that was spreading these ideas of note taking or were they (more likely) just so ubiquitous in the academic culture that such a link wouldn't have mattered?

      (Earlier ancestors like Beatrice Webb may have been a more influential link.)

    3. index card file

      Given the use case that Niklas Luhmann had, the translation of zettelkasten into English is better read as "index card file" rather than the simpler and more direct translation "slip box".

      While it's not often talked about in the recent contexts, there is a long history of using index cards for note taking in the United States and the idea of an index card file was once ubiquitous. There has been such a long span between this former ubiquity and our digital modernity that the idea of a zettelkasten seems like a wondrous new tool, never seen before. As a result, people in within social media, the personal knowledge management space, or the tools for thought space will happily use the phrase zettelkasten as if it is the hottest and newest thing on the planet.

    1. critical edition of Harrison’s manuscript: Thomas Harrison, The Ark of Studies, ed. Alberto Cevolini (Turnhout, 2017)
    2. 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.

    3. Instead of imagination, Drexel recommended training the art of excerpting. Thus, he reversed the ancient rule, according to which knowledge should be entrusted to personal memory rather than to the library, and stored in the mind rather than in a closet upside down.

      Jeremias Drexel became one of the earliest educators and reformers to recommend against the ars memoria and instead use the art of excerpting as a means external written memory.

    4. Luhmann, for sure, had little (if any) awareness of this long tradition. His excerpting habits should not be regarded as a result of cultural inheritance. A direct contact with early modern excerpting systems is not demonstrable, and Luhmann himself never once mentioned them in his publications.

      Alberto Cevolini argues that Niklas Luhmann was unaware of the prior tradition of excerpting, however even his complex numbering system shows incredibly high similarity to the numbering system of houses used in 1770 Vienna near the time at which Konrad Gessner delineated his note taking system which also used excerpting.

      cross reference Markus Krajewski in Paper Machines, chapter 3, page 28:

      By 1777, the government of Lower Austria starts a renewed numbering of houses. “ As many new houses were built after the last conscription which have no number yet, this is also an opportunity for the rectification of the house numbers.” New entries are to be treated as follows: “If for instance three new houses are found between numbers 12 and 13, the first is to be 12a, the second 12b, the third 12c.”

      Given this evidence, it's more likely that Luhmann was taught this system, he researched it, or perhaps like the broader ideas, it was floating around so heavily in the culture of his time and place from centuries earlier that it was simply a natural fit. More evidence about the prevalence for street numbering may be needed from his time period to know how common this general numbering system was.

    5. Renaissance revival of the art of note-taking, that is, the art of making excerpts from readings (the old ars excerpendi)

      In case I've not explicitly saved the idea of ars excerpendi into the notebook.

    1. “I could fit this in my pocket,” I thought when the first newly re-designed @parisreview arrived. And sure enough editor Emily Stokes said it’s was made to fit in a “large coat pocket” in the editor’s note.

      I've been thinking it for a while, but have needed to write it down for ages---particularly from my experiences with older manuscripts.

      In an age of print-on-demand and reflowing text, why in goodness' name don't we have the ability to print almost anything we buy and are going to read in any font size and format we like?

      Why couldn't I have a presentation copy sized version of The Paris Review?

      Why shouldn't I be able to have everything printed on bible-thin pages of paper for savings in thickness?

      Why couldn't my textbooks be printed with massively large margins for writing notes into more easily? Why not interleaved with blank pages even? Particularly near the homework problem sections?

      Why can't I have more choice in a range of fonts, book sizes, margin sizes, and covers?

    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?

  6. aworkinglibrary.com aworkinglibrary.com
    1. I began this site in 2008 in an effort to bring some structure to a long held habit: taking notes about the books I read in a seemingly endless number of notebooks, which then piled up, never to be opened again. I thought a website would make that habit more fruitful and fun, serving as a reference, something the notebooks never did. It did that handily, and more, including making space for me to write and think about adjacent things. More than a dozen years later and this site has become the place where I think, often but not exclusively about books—but then books are a means of listening to the thoughts of others so that you can hear your own thoughts more clearly. Contributions have waxed and waned over the years as life got busy, but I never stopped reading, and I always come back.

      Several things to notice here:

      • learning in public
      • posting knowledge on a personal website as a means of sharing that knowledge with a broader public
      • specifically not hiding the work of reading in notebooks which are unlikely to be read by others.
  7. Nov 2021
    1. I find something very appealing about this user interface as a way to create a website: https://paperwebsite.com/.

      A micropub client that could do this would be fascinating...

    1. Though firmly rooted in Renaissance culture, Knight's carefully calibrated arguments also push forward to the digital present—engaging with the modern library archives where these works were rebound and remade, and showing how the custodianship of literary artifacts shapes our canons, chronologies, and contemporary interpretative practices.

      This passage reminds me of a conversation on 2021-11-16 at Liquid Margins with Will T. Monroe (@willtmonroe) about using Sönke Ahrens' book Smart Notes and Hypothes.is as a structure for getting groups of people (compared to Ahrens' focus on a single person) to do collection, curation, and creation of open education resources (OER).

      Here Jeffrey Todd Knight sounds like he's looking at it from the perspective of one (or maybe two) creators in conjunction (curator and binder/publisher) while I'm thinking about expanding behond

      This sort of pattern can also be seen in Mortimer J. Adler's group zettelkasten used to create The Great Books of the Western World series as well in larger wiki-based efforts like Wikipedia, so it's not new, but the question is how a teacher (or other leader) can help to better organize a community of creators around making larger works from smaller pieces. Robin DeRosa's example of using OER in the classroom is another example, but there, the process sounded much more difficult and manual.

      This is the sort of piece that Vannevar Bush completely missed as a mode of creation and research in his conceptualization of the Memex. Perhaps we need the "Inventiex" as a mode of larger group means of "inventio" using these methods in a digital setting?

    2. 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.

    3. 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.
    4. 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.

    1. https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1459547762517688327.html

      Anthony Baker experimenting with ideas from Necromant and Eleanor Konik to cross link digital notes with physical paper notes.

      I've thought about doing something similar to this with my physical notebooks in the past, though hadn't done block level linking as a means of potentially pulling in and linking pieces in the future.

      Often for more important linked things, I'll simply import the physical version into my digital copy at the time of first use/reference, but this could be interesting for large bodies of notes which aren't digital.

    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 watched Christian from Zettelkasten.de taking notes from a book. He’s a professional note-taker, and it still took him two hours to take four notes in the first video - it does take forever to make good permanent notes.

      An example of someone taking notes in public to model the process. Also an example of the time it takes to make notes.

      Has Dan Allosso (@danallosso) done something along these lines as an example on his YouTube channel?

    2. But was it worth three hours of my time?

      Here's a good example of someone asking if the time it takes to make good reading notes is worth it.

    1. Excerpting requires effort and thus combats natural laziness; inhis regimen there is no reading without taking notes, which would be idleand vain, and no time wasted because every free moment can be put to usereading over one’s notes (seeA,p. 84).

      Even early in the history of note taking treatises Jeremias Drexel acknowledges the idea that good note taking, and particularly excerpting, takes work.

      Modern students seem to have now lost both the ars memoria as well as the note taking arts which helped supplant it. We really need to be able to regain both of these traditions, but it will obviously take commitment to do the work.

    2. Drexel emphasizesthe difficulty of image-based arts of memory and how short-lived are theirresults: “Great labor places so many images of things in this treasury ofmemory; but no amount of labor has managed to preserve them there forlong without excerpts” (A, p. 3). Instead, for Drexel excerpting is the onlysure way to retain material for the long term. Drexel insists too that, farfrom detracting from memory, note taking is the best aid to memory.

      Jeremias Drexel is certainly a writer who complains about the work of the ars memoria, particularly for long term memory and supplants it with writing/note taking.

    3. pedagogues in the humanist tradition, from Erasmus to Drexel,were routinely hostile to the arts of memory.

      On Erasmus’s preference for “study, order and care” over places and images, see Erasmus,De ratione studii(1512), quoted in Yates,The Art of Memory,p. 127

      What other pedagogues were hostile to memory?

      This is another point in the decline of memory traditions from the 1500s onward.

      What effect did cheaper books and paper have on this decline?

      Keep in mind that Erasmus had written a treatise on commonplacing which was also a point in the history of note taking though Blair doesn't acknowledge his contributions in her list here. Also Agricola and Melanchthon

    4. I will use Drexel’s treatise asrepresentative of the basic principles of note taking that were widely sharedin sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe across national and religiousdivides.

      Religious and national divides were likely very important here as authority from above would have been even more important than in modern time. Related to this is the change in mnemonic traditions due to religious and political mores around the time of Peter Ramus.

    5. Otherworks in the genre include Johann Petrus Titius,Manuductio ad excerpendum(Danzig, 1676); Just.Christoph. Udenius [Michael Kirsten],Excerpendi ratio nova(Nordhausen, 1684); VincentPlaccius,De arte excerpendi vom gelehrten Buchhalten liber singularis: Quo genera et praeceptaexcerpendi(Stockholm, 1689); Fridericus Sidelius,De studio excerpendi(Jena, 1713); and DanielGeorg Morhof,Polyhistor, literarius, philosophicus, et practicus: Cum accessionibus virorumclarissimorum loannis Frickii et Iohannis Molleri(Lu ̈beck, 1732), bk.1, tome 3, chap. 1.
    6. Spin-offs from Drexel include Kergerus,Methodus drexeliana succinctior(1658) and P. Philomusus[Johannis Jacobus Labhart],Industria excerpendi brevis, facilis, amoena(Konstanz, 1684).
    7. A,as discussed in Helmut Zedelmaier, “Johann JakobMoser et l’organisation e ́rudite du savoir a` l’e ́poque moderne,” inLire, copier, e ́crire: LesBibliothe`ques manuscrites et leurs usages au XVIIIe sie`cle,ed. Elisabeth De ́cultot (Paris, 2003), p. 54.


    8. Sacchini,Moyens de lire avec fruit,trans. Durey de Morsan (The Hague, 1786) andU ̈berdie Lektu ̈re, ihren Nutzen und die Vortheile sie geho ̈rig anzuwenden, nach dem Lateinischen des P.Sachini teutsch bearbeitet und mit einem Anhange begleitet von Herrmann Walchner(Karlsruhe,1832

      references to look up

    9. the most influential may be Jeremias Drexel’sAurifodina,orThe Mine of All Arts and Sciences, or the Habit of Excerpting(1638), in fourteen editions to 1695, followed by abridgments, imitations,and responses.
    10. The longest running of theseis Francesco Sacchini,De ratione libros cum profectu legendi libellus(On Howto Read Books with Profit) first published in Latin in 1614 and as late as 1786in French and 1832 in German

      Mortimer J. Adler, eat your heart out.

    11. The early modern period offers yet another type of source for the firsttime: manuals of advice about how to take notes. More detailed than theprecepts of fifteenth-century humanist pedagogues like Guarino da Veronaare entire treatises on the subject produced in the Jesuit and the Germanacademic contexts of the seventeenth century.

      The first manuals of advice about how to take notes began in the early modern period during the fifteenth century.

    12. Fromthe sixteenth century we have printed school texts abundantly annotated inthe margins and on interleaved pages with commentary that was likely dic-tated in the classroom and copied over neatly after the fact in the printedbook (fig. 3).
    13. Mary Poovey,A History of the Modern Fact: Problems of Knowledge in the Sciences ofWealth and Society(Chicago, 1998).

      Most recently, the emergence of the fact has been attributed to methods of commercial recordkeeping (and double-entry bookkeeping in particular).

      Reference to read/look into with respect to accounting and note taking.

    14. Ciceroalready contrasted the short-lived memoranda of the merchant with the more carefully kept accountbook designed as a permanent record; see Cicero, “Pro Quinto Roscio comoedo oratio,”TheSpeeches,trans. John Henry Freese (Cambridge, Mass., 1930), 2.7, pp. 278–81.
    15. Francesco Sacchini recommends two notebooks inDeratione libros cum profectu legendi libellus(Wu ̈rzburg, 1614), chap. 13, p. 91: “Not unlike attentivemerchants . . . [who] keep two books, one small, the other large: the first you would calladversariaor a daybook(ephemerides),the second an account book(calendarium)and ledger(codex).”
    16. Y trancis pacon compared one of hisnotebooks to a merchant’s wastebooki see prian ̈ickersW introduction to trancis paconW yrancisuaconX edY ̈ickers SfixfordW ]ggdTW pY xli

      Francis Bacon compared one of his notebooks to a merchant's wastebook.

    17. was common among early modern authorsW and the notion of the merXchant as a model to imitate persisted through changes to new techniquesY

      References to the merchant’s two notebooks as a model for student note taking was common among early modern authors, and the notion of the merchant as a model to imitate persisted through changes to new techniques.

    18. ffost guides to research devote a few pages to methods of note takingW but they lag behind thenew technologiesi seeW for exampleW xacques parzun and venry tY uraffW The ́odern ResearcherS]gcei postonW ]gg‘TY

      Might be interesting to look at this reference to see what she's referring to specifically.

      It would be interesting to see how note taking is changing with even newer digital tools like Hypothes.is, Diigo, Twitter, Readwise, etc.

      Perhaps the growth of digital gardens in public may be a place for study as well? Though one would need to be wary of the idea of performative note taking as these are often done specifically in public as opposed to private as is more common in the past.

    19. fiet even today note taking generally remains an areaof tacit knowledgeW acquired by imitation rather than formal instructionWand about which there is little explicit discussionY

      This is still too often the case in the general public as evinced by watching the Obsidian and Roam Research spaces.

    20. ́his historical interest is fueled not onlyby the rapid growth of the history of readingW of which the study of notetaking is an offshootW

      Where exactly do we situate note taking? Certainly within the space of rhetoric, but also as Ann M. Blair suggests within the history of reading.

      What else? manuscript studies, psychology, others?

    21. i g u r e ]Y ́his manuscript by obraham firtelius S]c‘e–gfTW author of many geographical atlasesand dictionariesW is not a draft of any of his published works but a collection of notes underalphabetized geographical headingsY fin the right side of each page notes are entered on slips ofpaper glued into the notebook in alphabetical orderW following a common early modern methodof alphabetizationi the left side of the page is left blank for additional notes to add to thealphabetical entriesY ́he notebook already resembles the kind of work for which it gathersmaterial—the encyclopedic dictionaryY ”eproduction of an opening of firteliusW “ ́hesaurusgeographicusW” fllantinXfforetus ffuseum SontwerpT ff` ‘fcW from uilbert ́ournoyW “obrahamfirtelius et la poe ́sie politique de xacques van paerleW” in ”obert ̧Y yarrow et alYW tbrahamOrtelius Tdhej–dhlkUX cartographe et humaniste S ́urnhoutW ]ggfTW ppY ]da–dbi reproduction byvarvard ˆniversity ffedia `ervicesY

      What is the date of this manuscript by Abraham Ortelius (1527-98)? It shows the pattern of gluing slips of paper into books.

    22. wndeedW ffichel toucault reportedly expressed a desireto study copybooks of quotations because they seemed to him to be“work[s] on the self Y Y Y not imposed on the individual”i they promised togive quasiXpsychoanalytic insight into the thinking of the individual readerfree to choose what was worthy of attentionY5

      One's personal notes can be considered a mental fingerprint of one's thoughts and desires.

    23. 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

    24. 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.

    25. ot its deepestlevelW whatever the mediumW note taking involves variations on and comXbinations of a few basic maneuversW which w propose to identify as the fourSsh storingW sortingW summarizingW and selectin

      Ann M. Blair categorizes four variations of note taking which she calls the four Ss:

      • storing
      • sorting
      • summarizing
      • selecting

      (In a modern context, one might also expand this to a fifth and include sharing.)

    26. ut personal notes can also be shared with othersWon a limited scale with family and friends and on a wider scale throughpublicationW notably in genres that compile useful reading notes for othersY

      Written in 2004, this is on the cusp of the growth of blogging and obviously predates the general time frame of social media and the rise of social annotation. Personal notes can now be shared more widely and have much larger publics.

    27. Blair, Ann. 2004. Note taking as an art of transmission. Critical Inquiry 31, no 1: 85-107. http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/427303

      Citable link: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:3226475

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

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

    1. According to your catalog, if you have made one, in which every division or subdivision bears a serial letter or number, you can put your slips in order. When they are once arranged, you will find them again without any trouble at the moment of work.

      So here we have in print (we may need to double check the original French from 1921) an indicator of a note taker recommending using serial numbers on slips before Niklas Luhmann's birth.

    2. There is a very ingenious system, called the decimal system, applicable to every kind of research: I refer for its elucidation to a booklet that is interesting and very clear.t

      Antonin Sertillanges recommends his reader to use a decimal system for organizing their slip box system based on that in L'Organisation du Travail intellectuel, by Dr. Paul Chavigny, Fellow of the Val de Grace, Delagrave, 1918.

  8. Oct 2021
    1. How are notes to be classified? Famous men have adopted different systems. The best, in the long run, is the system that one has tried, tested by one’s own needs and intellectual habits, and established by long practice.

      This is still solid advice today; advice I have dispensed to others without having seen it written before by others.

    2. best that deep study invites you to gather in like a harvest, and to store up as the wealth of life.

      Like centuries of rhetors before him, he's using ideas and metaphors of harvest, treasure, and wealth to describe note taking.

      Why have these passed out of popular Western thought since the 1920-1960s when this book was popular?

    3. sometimes you de- yelop a whole passage, not with the intention of completing it, but because it comes of itself and because inspiration is like grace, which passes by and does not come back.

      So very few modern sources describe annotation or note taking in these terms.

      I find often in my annotations, the most recent one just above is such a one, where I start with a tiny kernel of an idea and then my brain begins warming up and I put down some additional thoughts. These can sometimes build and turn into multiple sentences or paragraphs, other times they sit and need further work. But either way, with some work they may turn into something altogether different than what the original author intended or discussed.

      These are the things I want to keep, expand upon, and integrate into larger works or juxtapose with other broader ideas and themes in the things I am writing about.

      Sadly, we're just not teaching students or writers these tidbits or habits anymore.

      Sönke Ahrens mentions this idea in his book about Smart Notes. When one is asked to write an essay or a paper it is immensely difficult to have a perch on which to begin. But if one has been taking notes about their reading which is of direct interest to them and which can be highly personal, then it is incredibly easy to have a starting block against which to push to begin what can be either a short sprint or a terrific marathon.

      This pattern can be seen by many bloggers who surf a bit of the web, read what others have written, and use those ideas and spaces as a place to write or create their own comments.

      Certainly this can involve some work, but it's always nicer when the muses visit and the words begin to flow.

      I've now written so much here in this annotation that this note here, is another example of this phenomenon.

      With some hope, by moving this annotation into my commonplace book (or if you prefer the words notebook, blog, zettelkasten, digital garden, wiki, etc.) I will have it to reflect and expand upon later, but it'll also be a significant piece of text which I might move into a longer essay and edit a bit to make a piece of my own.

      With luck, I may be able to remedy some of the modern note taking treatises and restore some of what we've lost from older traditions to reframe them in an more logical light for modern students.

      I recall being lucky enough to work around teachers insisting I use note cards and references in my sixth grade classes, but it was never explained to me exactly what this exercise was meant to engender. It was as if they were providing the ingredients for a recipe, but had somehow managed to leave off the narrative about what to do with those ingredients, how things were supposed to be washed, handled, prepared, mixed, chopped, etc. I always felt that I was baking blind with no directions as to temperature or time. Fortunately my memory for reading on shorter time scales was better than my peers and it was only that which saved my dishes from ruin.

      I've come to see note taking as beginning expanded conversations with the text on the page and the other texts in my notebooks. Annotations in the the margins slowly build to become something else of my own making.

      We might compare this with the more recent movement of social annotation in the digital pedagogy space. This serves a related master, but seems a bit more tangent to it. The goal of social annotation seems to be to help engage students in their texts as a group. Reading for many of these students may be more foreign than it is to me and many other academics who make trade with it. Thus social annotation helps turn that reading into a conversation between peers and their text. By engaging with the text and each other, they get something more out of it than they might have if left to their own devices. The piece I feel is missing here is the modeling of the next several steps to the broader commonplacing tradition. Once a student has begun the path of allowing their ideas to have sex with the ideas they find on the page or with their colleagues, what do they do next? Are they being taught to revisit their notes and ideas? Sift them? Expand upon them. Place them in a storehouse of their best materials where they can later be used to write those longer essays, chapters, or books which may benefit them later?

      How might we build these next pieces into these curricula of social annotation to continue building on these ideas and principles?

    4. have only your own ob- jective before your eyes, without regard to that of the author which may be quite different.

      When reading and taking notes, one should have a reason or purpose in mind and endeavor to stick to it. While you're absorbing what the writer has written, allow the unnecessary portions with respect to your goal flow through the sieve of your mind and only catch and annotate the portions which supplement your end goal. Keep and elaborate on these.

      A few days after your reading and annotating, go back through your notes with a keen eye toward expanding on those important things to your goal or interests and set aside (or even discard) all the other less interesting pieces.

      Naturally there are other pieces which may be important for remembering the shape of the things you read or facts which you've highlighted and want to remember or memorize. Save these things also in a separate space from the bigger ideas you're working on creating. They're useful, but of an entirely different nature than the ideas.

      Two broad different types of notes:

      • facts to remember
      • ideas which can have sex with other ideas
    5. Avoid caprice in everything. Just as reading is food, and memory a rich possession that becomes part of the personality, notes also are storehouses of nourishment and of personality. Reading, memory, notes should all complete us, should there- fore be like us, have something of our self, our r6le, our yocation; they should correspond to what we are aiming at and to the form of external activity by which we can and will realize it.

      Solid advice for note taking.

      This reasoning seems to be missing from writers like Ryan Holiday who just give the advice without the underlying reason why.

    6. Some people have so many and such full notebooks that they are prevented by a sort of anticipatory discouragement from ever opening them. Their imaginary treasures have cost much time and trouble, and they yield no return; they are choked up by a vast number of worthless things; the useful ones might often with advantage have stayed in the tomes from which they were ex- tracted, a reference with a rapid summary taking the place of wearisome pages.

      This seems to be a common complaint I see of people in the Zettelkasten space. They're constantly asking themselves "Why am I doing this? What good is it?"

    7. Notes, which are a sort of external memory, a “paper memory” Montaigne called them, must bear a very small proportion to reading; but they can cover more ground than memory, they can supply for it, and so take the strain off it and help our work in a measure that is hard to assign.

      Notes allow us to forget, but they're also a foothold for future memorization.

      What is the source of Montaigne calling notes "paper memory"?


      This whole section looks the most interesting and promising to me: reading, memory, and notes!

      I'll likely read these first and at best skim the rest depending on content.

    1. The point of the system is this: Ideas do not do their best work independently of each other. They work best in tandem. So each index card (or Zettel or slipnote) should link to something else.

      Ideas work best when linked to related ideas.

    2. 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.

  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.

    1. Then, later, when I had finished reading the book, I went back and wrote notes on each of the Post-Its. (Since I put notes on nearly every page of the book, I needed some easy way to find the information I might want in the future.) Doing so required me to reread the passage I put the note on, and then to figure out what about it had caught my eye, then to come up with a few words to put on the note. This is generally how I annotate books I read, but in this case I was also, inadvertently, demonstrating a couple of the book’s principle ideas: most people learn and remember best when they can turn their knowledge into artifacts, give it some physical presence, and make their attention (and memory) loop through information recursively rather than trying to learn in a linear way.

      Matthew Cheney has a slightly different method of annotating books. He marks the pages/sections, but then revisits them afterwards to add notes.

      However one does this, a lot of the power is in actually revisiting one's notes and thoughts and doing two things, reviewing them, extending them, and saving them for later use and review.

    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. https://fs.blog/2013/11/taking-notes-while-reading/

      Interesting but not useful to me as it's too basic within my current system. I like that he encourages people to go back over their notes and cross link them.

    1. https://fs.blog/2021/07/mathematicians-lament/

      What if we taught art and music the way we do mathematics? All theory and drudgery without any excitement or exploration?

      What textbooks out there take math from the perspective of exploration?

      • Inventional geometry does

      Certainly Gauss, Euler, and other "greats" explored mathematics this way? Why shouldn't we?

      This same problem of teaching math is also one we ignore when it comes to things like note taking, commonplacing, and even memory, but even there we don't even delve into the theory at all.

      How can we better reframe mathematics education?

      I can see creating an analogy that equates math with art and music. Perhaps something like Arthur Eddington's quote:

      Suppose that we were asked to arrange the following in two categories–

      distance, mass, electric force, entropy, beauty, melody.

      I think there are the strongest grounds for placing entropy alongside beauty and melody and not with the first three. —Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, OM, FRS (1882-1944), a British astronomer, physicist, and mathematician in The Nature of the Physical World, 1927

    1. https://fs.blog/2021/08/remember-books/

      A solid overview of how to read. Not as long or as in-depth as Mortimer J. Adler, but hits all of the high points in an absorbable manner.

      Definitely worth re-reading...

    2. Schedule time to read and review these notes.

      This is an incredibly important part of the process for absorbing, creating links, and remembering one's notes. A sad pity that it's a single sentence in its own paragraph.

      This should have been underlined.

    3. There are endless ways of organizing your notes—by book, by author, by topic, by the time of reading. It doesn’t matter which system you use as long as you will be able to find the notes in the future.

      Or by all of the above... Library card catalogues did all three, but most digital systems will effectuate all of them as well.

    4. Another effective technique is to start your notetaking by writing a short summary of each chapter and transcribing any meaningful passages or phrases. If you are unsure how to simplify your thoughts, imagine that someone has tapped you on the shoulder and asked you to explain the chapter you just finished reading. They have never read this book and lack any idea of the subject matter. How would you explain it to them?

      The so-called Richard Feynman technique, n'cest pas?

      From whom did he crib it? Did he credit them, or was it just distilled into part of the culture?

      This is also similar to the rubber duck method of debugging a program in some sense.

    5. Most of us were taught as children to treat books as something sacred—no folding the page corners, and no writing in the margins, ever.

      Most Medieval manuscripts specifically left wide columns of space to encourage readers to mark up their texts.

      cross reference: Medieval notepads - Khan Academy

      <small>Detail, London, British Library, Harley MS 3487 (13th century)—[source](http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/ILLUMIN.ASP?Size=mid&IllID=16790)</small>

    6. Adapt your notetaking system to suit your goals.

      More solid advice. Seems basic because it is.

    7. The best technique for notetaking is whichever one works for you and is easy to stick to. While there are hundreds of systems on the internet, you need to take one of them and adapt it until you have your own system.

      Solid advice. Advice I've given before.

      Pick a system, use it, refine it. Don't over-engineer it. You'll find that many parts of it you'll never reuse.

    8. How does the book relate to topics you’re already familiar with?


      Some people think and endeavor to read a book once and take such great notes that they'll never have to read it again. They're fooling themselves if they think they can do this. The context of what's in the book compared to the context of what they already know is ever-changing. The new you that re-reads a book years or months later will notice new and different things. Make new and interesting connections. Much like Heraclitus's river, we ourselves are ever-changing, and our changing contexts will allow us to get different things from what we're reading on subsequent visits.

    9. can help you retain more and make deeper connections.

      Often forgotten in the reading and learning processes is creating connections between our new content and what we already know. This is some of the power behind the basic idea in zettelkasten of creating links between knowledge.

    10. Before beginning this piece I'm reminded to note some advice given to me by Rick Kurtzman at Creative Artists Agency (CAA) on reading scripts: If you're not going to act on having read (a script), then why bother having read it in the first place?

      He meant to make notes, write coverage, create writer lists for rewriting, producer lists for selling, director list for directing, casting lists. One should tell people about the (good) things one read. Make your reading produce something.

  10. Aug 2021
    1. in De discipline scholarum, a guidebook made in the 1230s for students and teachers at the University of Paris, it is explained how a student should bring such slips of parchment to class for taking notes. Interestingly, some of these slips have survived because they were pasted in a student’s textbook, like the one seen in the image above. These are truly the medieval equivalent of our “yellow sticky notes.” The practice of bringing scrap material into the classroom was a much broader medieval phenomenon, as is shown by the famous birch bark notes that survive from 13th-century Russia.

      Students used offcuts (or scraps) of parchment for writing notes on in class.

    2. The most common and sensible location for putting down thoughts, critique or notes was the margin of the medieval book. Consider this: you wouldn’t think so looking at a medieval page, but on average only half of it was filled with the actual text. A shocking fifty to sixty percent was designed to be margin. As inefficient as this may seem, the space came in handy for the reader. As the Middle Ages progressed it became more and more common to resort to the margin for note-taking.
    3. Connecting a marginal remark to the relevant passage in the text was usually done with a duplicated symbol, called a signe de renvoi: one was placed in front of the marginal note, the other near the word or passage that the remark commented upon.

      Evolution of footnotes

    4. 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. The De disciplina scholarum, a student guidebook from Paris, stipulated that wax tablets or tiny slips of parchment be taken into the classroom for note-taking. These notes were later added to the margins of students’ textbooks.
    1. Media and the Mind: Art, Science and Notebooks as Paper Machines, 1700-1830 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2022), 550 pp + 60 figures.

      I can't wait to read Media and the Mind: Art, Science and Notebooks as Paper Machines, 1700-1830 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2022)!

      I see some bits on annotation hiding in here that may be of interest to @RemiKalir and @anterobot.

      If you need some additional eyeballs on it prior to publication, I'm happy to mark it up in exchange for the early look.

    1. https://collect.readwriterespond.com/how-to-remember-more-of-what-you-read/

      Some useful looking links here. Thanks Aaron.

      I've been digging deeper and deeper into some of the topics and sub-topics.

      The biggest problem I've seen thus far is a lot of wanna-be experts and influencers (especially within the Roam Research space) touching on the very surface of problem. I've seen more interesting and serious people within the Obsidian community sharing their personal practices and finding pieces of that useful.

      The second issue may be that different things work somewhat differently for different people, none of whom are using the same tools or even general systems. Not all of them have the same end goals either. Part of the key is finding something useful that works for you or modifying something slowly over time to get it to work for you.

      At the end of the day your website holds the true answer: read, write, respond (along with the implied "repeat" at the end).

      One of the best and most thorough prescriptions I've seen is Sönke Ahrens' book which he's written after several years of using and researching a few particular systems.

      I've been finding some useful tidbits from my own experience and research into the history of note taking and commonplace book traditions. The memory portion intrigues me a lot as well as I've done quite a lot of research into historical methods of mnemonics and memory traditions. Naturally the ancient Greeks had most of this all down within the topic of rhetoric, but culturally we seem to have unbundled and lost a lot of our own traditions with changes in our educational system over time.

    1. https://kimberlyhirsh.com/2018/06/29/a-starttofinish-literature.html

      Great overview of a literature review with some useful looking links to more specifics on note taking methods.

      Most of the newer note taking tools like Roam Research, Obsidian, etc. were not available or out when she wrote this. I'm curious how these may have changed or modified her perspective versus some of the other catch-as-catch-can methods with pen/paper/index cards/digital apps?

    1. https://kimberlyhirsh.com/2019/04/01/dissertating-in-the.html

      A description of some of Kimiberly Hirsh's workflow in keeping a public research notebook (or commonplace book).

      I'd be curious to know what type of readership and response she's gotten from this work in the past. For some it'll bet it's possibly too niche for a lot of direct feedback, but some pieces may be more interesting than others.

      Did it help her organize her thoughts and reuse the material later on?

    1. How To Do Sketchnoting (Even If You "Can't Draw"!)

      a lesson with Emily Mills of the Sketchnote Academy


      Types of Sketchnotes

      • Lecture based
      • Experience based

      Skills for sketchnotes

      • Listening
        • looking for ideas, high level
      • Writing
      • Drawing

      Pairing images and words together to be dynamic and memorable.

      One doesn't need to be the greatest artist to do sketchnotes.

      memorable >> masterpiece recognizable >> realistic big ideas >> nitty gritty

      Basic drawing

      Seven building blocks for drawing

      • dot
      • straight line
      • crooked line
      • curvy line
      • circle
      • triangle
      • square


      • The fewer elements, the easier
      • Rearrange rotate, reorient shapes


      • standard stick person
      • A person
      • oval person
      • star person

      Containers and connectors

      Boxes are boring, so add frames or more interesting Use containers to separate information that is different from the rest or to highlight.

      • boxes
      • frames
      • nails/thumbtacks
      • star "pow" outline
      • box with a shadow

      Tell people where to read next

      • Create a really clear header
      • help people with connectors (dotted lines, arrows, numbering)

      Start out small first as it's more intimidating to use bigger formats


      • Sketchone marker (thin point ink, pigment or permanent and not water-based, otherwise bleedover in coloring)
      • Tombow dual brush markers for color
        • two grey tones, one lighter and one darker
        • small handful of colors (red, blue, yellow, green)

      How to Sketchnote

      • Step 1: Header
      • Step 2: Layout (top to bottom/left to right is usually more intuitive) Pre-plan this. Think about connectors.
      • Step 3: Consistency
        • headers, characters, size of writing,
      • Step 4: Refine
        • check spelling
        • whiteout for mess ups (gellyroll white gel pen)
        • ensure connectors are obvious
      • Step 5: Guiding shapes (to help flow of information on page)
        • stippling
        • cloud outlines
        • lines in the negative space (also creates contrast)
      • Step 6: Coloring in
        • greys first, dark then light
        • highlighting connectors
        • shadows on boxes, ribbons, connectors
        • color should be more of a highlight than a background filler (it's not a coloring book)

      Higher contrast notes are better


    2. Anecdotal mention here of someone using sketchnotes or doodling as a mnemonic device.

      Sketchnotes could be a means of implementing visual method of loci in one's note taking. Like creating a faux memory palace. Also somewhat similar, expecially in the case of the leaf doodle mentioned above, to the idea of drolleries, but in this case, they're not taking advantage of the memory's greater capacity of imagination to make things even more memorable for long term retention.

    1. Sketchnotes by Chad Moore and Chris Wilson


      Sketchnotes are ideas not art.

      Squiggle birds - take squiggles and give them beaks, eyes, and bird feet. (Idea apparently from Austin Kleon.)

      How you might take notes if you'd never been told how to.

      • There is no particular app or platform that is the "right" one.

      Common elements:

      • Headlines and sub headlines are common
        • Elegant text / fancy text
      • Icons
      • containers - ways of holding information together
        • this can be explicit or via white space
      • flow of information (arrows)
      • arrangements or layouts of how information is displayed
        • top to bottom, circles, columns, stream of flow of ideas
      • people
        • emotions, perhaps using emoji-like faces
      • shadows, highlights


      Simple can be better. Complexity may make understanding more difficult.


      A few they pulled off of the web

      Sketchnote Selfie

      Goal: Create an info rich portrait with character. Portrait, name, info, location, passions, hobbies, interests, social usernames, now section, etc.

    1. https://mentalpivot.com/solutions-for-taking-notes-when-listening-to-podcasts/

      I definitely need a better way of doing this myself. Not a fan of paying $5/month for NoteCast. Airr is iOS only.

      Sharing the link from the app with timecode seems the best, but it would be nice to have the transcription piece as well.