31 Matching Annotations
  1. Oct 2022
    1. Perhaps in large part because of his narrow local audience of amateur historians, Goutor's detailing of note taking method included several pages on early research preparation before taking any notes at all. Some of this was to ensure that extant potential materials for one's subject actually existed, in cases where a researcher might run into issues of availability. It also took into account the public audiences they might be serving and what those audiences would expect in terms of level of detail, resources, photos, maps, charts, etc. (p 9-11)

      This is in marked contrast with the broader audiences of writers like Eco and Ahrens who presumed either extended research needs for either masters or Ph.D. theses, or, in Ahrens' case, life long researchers at universities or journalists, though Eco did make a nod in this direction at the end of his work. With a broader area of applicability, one's collection of notes might also help to guide their particular interests into a variety of tangential or related areas. Goutor either didn't see this longer term value, or curtailed his efforts here because of the scope of his audience.

    1. In "On Intellectual Craftsmanship" (1952), C. Wright Mills talks about his methods for note taking, thinking, and analysis in what he calls "sociological imagination". This is a sociologists' framing of their own research and analysis practice and thus bears a sociological related name. While he talks more about the thinking, outlining, and writing process rather than the mechanical portion of how he takes notes or what he uses, he's extending significantly on the ideas and methods that Sönke Ahrens describes in How to Take Smart Notes (2017), though obviously he's doing it 65 years earlier. It would seem obvious that the specific methods (using either files, note cards, notebooks, etc.) were a bit more commonplace for his time and context, so he spent more of his time on the finer and tougher portions of the note making and thinking processes which are often the more difficult parts once one is past the "easy" mechanics.

      While Mills doesn't delineate the steps or materials of his method of note taking the way Beatrice Webb, Langlois & Seignobos, Johannes Erich Heyde, Antonin Sertillanges, or many others have done before or Umberto Eco, Robert Greene/Ryan Holiday, Sönke Ahrens, or Dan Allosso since, he does focus more on the softer portions of his thinking methods and their desired outcomes and provides personal examples of how it works and what his expected outcomes are. Much like Niklas Luhmann describes in Kommunikation mit Zettelkästen (VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 1981), Mills is focusing on the thinking processes and outcomes, but in a more accessible way and with some additional depth.

      Because the paper is rather short, but specific in its ideas and methods, those who finish the broad strokes of Ahrens' book and methods and find themselves somewhat confused will more than profit from the discussion here in Mills. Those looking for a stronger "crash course" might find that the first seven chapters of Allosso along with this discussion in Mills is a straighter and shorter path.

      While Mills doesn't delineate his specific method in terms of physical tools, he does broadly refer to "files" which can be thought of as a zettelkasten (slip box) or card index traditions. Scant evidence in the piece indicates that he's talking about physical file folders and sheets of paper rather than slips or index cards, but this is generally irrelevant to the broader process of thinking or writing. Once can easily replace the instances of the English word "file" with the German concept of zettelkasten and not be confused.

      One will note that this paper was written as a manuscript in April 1952 and was later distributed for classroom use in 1955, meaning that some of these methods were being distributed from professor to students. The piece was later revised and included as an appendix to Mill's text The Sociological Imagination which was first published in 1959.

      Because there aren't specifics about Mills' note structure indicated here, we can't determine if his system was like that of Niklas Luhmann, but given the historical record one could suppose that it was closer to the commonplace tradition using slips or sheets. One thing becomes more clear however that between the popularity of Webb's work and this (which was reprinted in 2000 with a 40th anniversary edition), these methods were widespread in the mid-twentieth century and specifically in the field of sociology.

      Above and beyond most of these sorts of treatises on note taking method, Mills does spend more time on the thinking portions of the practice and delineates eleven different practices that one can focus on as they actively read/think and take notes as well as afterwards for creating content or writing.


      My full notes on the article can be found at https://jonudell.info/h/facet/?user=chrisaldrich&max=100&exactTagSearch=true&expanded=true&addQuoteContext=true&url=urn%3Ax-pdf%3A0138200b4bfcde2757a137d61cd65cb8

  2. Sep 2022
    1. @BenjaminVanDyneReplying to @ChrisAldrichI wish I had a good answer! The book I use when I teach is Joseph Harris’s “rewriting” which is technically a writing book but teaches well as a book about how to read in a writerly way.

      Thanks for this! I like the framing and general concept of the book.

      It seems like its a good follow on to Dan Allosso's OER text How to Make Notes and Write https://minnstate.pressbooks.pub/write/ or Sönke Ahrens' How to Take Smart Notes https://amzn.to/3DwJVMz which includes some useful psychology and mental health perspective.

      Other similar examples are Umberto Eco's How to Write a Thesis (MIT, 2015) or Gerald Weinberg's The Fieldstone Method https://amzn.to/3DCf6GA These may be some of what we're all missing.

      I'm reminded of Mark Robertson's (@calhistorian) discussion of modeling his note taking practice and output in his classroom using Roam Research. https://hyp.is/QuB5NDa0Ee28hUP7ExvFuw/thatsthenorm.com/mark-robertson-history-socratic-dialogue/ Perhaps we need more of this?

      Early examples of this sort of note taking can also be seen in the religious studies space with Melanchthon's handbook on commonplaces or Jonathan Edwards' Miscellanies, though missing are the process from notes to writings. https://www.logos.com/grow/jonathan-edwards-organizational-genius/

      Other examples of these practices in the wild include @andy_matuschak's https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGcs4tyey18 and TheNonPoet's https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sdp0jo2Fe4 Though it may be better for students to see this in areas in which they're interested.

      Hypothes.is as a potential means of modeling and allowing students to directly "see" this sort of work as it progresses using public/semi-public annotations may be helpful. Then one can separately model re-arranging them and writing a paper. https://web.hypothes.is/

      Reply to: https://twitter.com/BenjaminVanDyne/status/1571171086171095042

    1. Must You Read Books?

      What a fantastic question.

    2. Eco, Umberto. How to Write a Thesis. Translated by Caterina Mongiat Farina and Geoff Farina. Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press, 2015. https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/how-write-thesis

  3. Aug 2022
    1. You can underline a book or aseries of books that you own, even in various colors. Let ustalk briefly about underlining:
    2. Each type of index card should have a dif-ferent color, and should include in the top right corner abbre-viations that cross-reference one series of cards to another,and to the general plan. The result is something majestic.

      Finally a concrete statement about actively cross-linking ideas on note cards together!

  4. Jul 2022
    1. This might be all you need, if your notes are directedtoward a small, immediate goa

      I like that there are a variety of potential contexts here which students might find themselves within (short term versus long term / big projects versus small). The broad advice can be useful to more people because they can pick and choose for their own needs.

      This is similar to Umberto Eco's advice which is geared toward a longer thesis, though he mentions that one might continue on their system across additional topics or even an entire career.

    1. Beyond the cards mentioned above, you should also capture any hard-to-classify thoughts, questions, and areas for further inquiry on separate cards. Regularly go through these to make sure that you are covering everything and that you don’t forget something.I consider these insurance cards because they won’t get lost in some notebook or scrap of paper, or email to oneself.

      Julius Reizen in reviewing over Umberto Eco's index card system in How to Write a Thesis, defines his own "insurance card" as one which contains "hard-to-classify thoughts, questions, and areas for further inquiry". These he would keep together so that they don't otherwise get lost in the variety of other locations one might keep them

      These might be akin to Ahrens' "fleeting notes" but are ones which may not easily or even immediately be converted in to "permanent notes" for one's zettelkasten. However, given their mission critical importance, they may be some of the most important cards in one's repository.

      link this to - idea of centralizing one's note taking practice to a single location

      Is this idea in Eco's book and Reizen is the one that gives it a name since some of the other categories have names? (examples: bibliographic index cards, reading index cards (aka literature notes), cards for themes, author index cards, quote index cards, idea index cards, connection cards). Were these "officially" named and categorized by Eco?

      May be worthwhile to create a grid of these naming systems and uses amongst some of the broader note taking methods. Where are they similar, where do they differ?


      Multi-search tools that have full access to multiple trusted data stores (ostensibly personal ones across notebooks, hard drives, social media services, etc.) could potentially solve the problem of needing to remember where you noted something.

      Currently, in the social media space especially, this is not a realized service.

    2. Even the sloppiest manuscript would bring twenty new cards for my hoard.

      This quote is similar to the broad idea (source(s)?) that one can learn something even from the worst books or the man who's a fool.

      I've excerpted the portion of the quote that appears before this in the past. See: https://hyp.is/jqug2tNlEeyg2JfEczmepw/3stages.org/c/gq_title.cgi?list=1045&ti=Foucault%27s%20Pendulum%20(Eco)

    1. Take extreme care how you may conflate and differentiate (or don't) the ideas of "information" and "knowledge". Also keep in mind that the mathematical/physics definition of information is wholly divorced from any semantic meanings it may have for a variety of receivers which can have dramatically different contexts which compound things. YI suspect that your meaning is an Take extreme care how you may conflate and differentiate (or don't) the ideas of "information" and "knowledge". Also keep in mind that the mathematical/physics definition of information is wholly divorced from any semantic meanings it may have for a variety of receivers which can have dramatically different contexts which compound things. I suspect that your meaning is an

      Take extreme care how you may conflate and differentiate (or don't) the ideas of "information" and "knowledge". Also keep in mind that the mathematical/physics definition of information is wholly divorced from any semantic meanings it may have for a variety of receivers which can have dramatically different contexts which compound things.

      It's very possible that the meaning you draw from it is an eisegetical one to the meaning which Eco assigns it.

  5. May 2022
    1. A seguito della procedura avviata tra la Biblioteca Braidense e gli eredi di Umberto Eco nel 2018, con la registrazione del provvedimento da parte della Corte dei Conti si è concluso infatti in questi giorni l’iter, iniziato nel 2017, di acquisizione della Biblioteca di libri antichi denominata “Bibliotheca semiologica curiosa, lunatica, magica et pneumatica” formata da Umberto Eco nel corso della sua attività di bibliofilo. La collezione antica, che conta circa 1.200 edizioni anteriori al Novecento, un patrimonio che comprende 36 incunaboli e 380 volumi stampati tra il XVI e il XIX secolo sarà custodita dalla Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense di Milano, la Biblioteca Statale che ne garantirà la conservazione, la valorizzazione e la fruizione a studenti e studiosi. Un comitato scientifico formato da cinque membri, di cui due nominati dagli Eredi Eco e due dal Mibact, si occuperà di stabilire le modalità di conservazione anche al fine di garantirne l’unitarietà della consultazione digitale.

      Following the death of Umberto Eco, La Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense in Milan acquired a portion of his collection of books called the “Bibliotheca semiologica curious, lunatic, magical and pneumatic”. The collection comprised about 1,200 antique book including 36 incunabula and 380 volumes printed between the 16th and 19th centuries.

      https://bibliotecabraidense.org/la-biblioteca-braidense-acquisisce-la-biblioteca-di-libri-antichi-di-umberto-eco/

    1. For Eco on using something like a ZK, see his short book How to Write an Essay. Basically, he writes about making something that we could say is like a ZK, but one card system for each writing assignment.

      Umberto Eco's book How to Write a Thesis (MIT Press, 2015, #) can broadly be thought of as a zettelkasten system, but it advises a separate system for each project or writing assignment. This is generally good advice, and potentially excellent for students on a one-time basis, but it prevents one from benefitting from the work over multiple projects or even a lifetime.

      In some sense, a more traditional approach, and one seen used in Niklas Luhmann's example is to keep different sections separated by broad topics.

      Niklas Luhmann's zettelkasten #1 had 108 broad topics (along with a bibliography and a subject index), and zettelkasten #2 had 11 broad topics. (Cross reference: https://niklas-luhmann-archiv.de/bestand/zettelkasten/inhaltsuebersicht)

      The zettelkasten structure allowed a familiar "folder" like top level structure, but the bibliographic and subject indices allowed them to interlink ideas from one space to the next for longer term work on multiple projects simultaneously.

    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!

  6. Apr 2022
    1. http://ratfactor.com/cards/cards-inspiration

      While his collection of public notes is extremely limited, Dave Gauer does provide a list of his inspiration and precursors mostly focusing on Soren Bjornstad's influence as well as Ward Cunningham's wiki.c2.com site and inspiration from Umberto Eco and Vladimir Nabokov.

    1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_text

      Within the field of semiotic analysis, an open text is one that can be interpreted by readers in a variety of ways. By way of contrast, a closed text prompts the reader to only one interpretation.

      Given the definition of an open text (opera aperta), in practice, the Bible may be one of the most open texts ever written despite its more likely original intention of it being a strictly closed text.

      What does a spectrum of open to closed look like? Can it be applied to other physical forms that could potentially be open to interpretation? Consider art, for example, which by general nature is far more open to interpretation (an open "text") and rarely are there artworks which are completely closed to a single interpretation.

      How does time and changing audiences/publics affect a work? The Bible may have been meant as a closed text in its original historical context, but time and politics have shown it to be one of the most spectacularly open texts ever written.

    2. He continues by comparing open works to Quantum mechanics, and he arrives at the conclusion that open works are more like Einstein's idea of the universe, which is governed by precise laws but seems random at first. The artist in those open works arranges the work carefully so it could be re-organized by another but still keep the original voice or intent of the artist.

      Is physics open or closed?

      Could a play, made in a zettelkasten-like structure, be performed in a way so as to keep a consistent authorial voice?

      What potential applications does the idea of opera aperta have for artificial intelligence? Can it be created in such a way as to give an artificial brain a consistent "authorial voice"?

    3. Umberto Eco makes a distinction between these kind of works, which are "open" in their interpretation, to the musical works from the beginning, which are open in their structural sense.

      If Umberto Eco makes a distinction between the works which are open in interpretation and works like music which are open in their structural sense, what would he have made of viewing a work like a zettelkasten which could potentially be open in both respects?

      link to: https://hyp.is/dBTiCsDWEeyyn7dYEp3oUA/en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_text

    4. In this essay, Umberto Eco describes a special kind of musical works that can be organized and re-organized by the performers before they are played to the audience.

      Is the zettelkasten potentially an example of one of the most open texts one can create?

      I believe Umberto Eco kept one or had a note taking system similar to it.

    1. It is also the best support for the opera aperta, whose desire was pervasive in the1950s and 1960s

      Denis Hollier suggests that the index card file is "the best support for the opera aperta, whose desire was pervasive in the 1950s and 1960s."

  7. Jan 2022
    1. One of these tools was the so-called Indice Categorico designed by Emanu-ele Tesauro. Tesauro displayed it as a ‘secret truly secret’ (‘secreto veramente secreto’), that is, as a truly valuable invention. According to Tesauro,72 the matter was to discover topics that were hidden behind several different cat-egories and to compare them to each other (‘penetrar gli obietti altamente ap-piattati sotto diverse Categorie, e di riscontrarli tra loro’) to discover analogies and similarities that would have otherwise been overlooked if everything had been preserved under its own category (‘scovare analogie e somiglianze che sarebbero passate inosservate se ogni cosa fosse rimasta classificata sotto la propria Categoria’). The cognitive device used to achieve this purpose was the metaphor. By listing topics in a jumbled manner under a certain category ac-cording to some similarity in meaning among them, it was possible to produce unexpected results. In short, it was possible to discover something new.

      72 Emanuele Tesauro, Il Cannocchiale aristotelico, 5th ed. (Venice, 1669), 83. On this inven-tion, see also Umberto Eco, Dall’albero al labirinto. Studi storici sul segno e l’interpretazione (Milan, 2007), 45–7.

      Emanuele Tesaurio's Indice Categorico was a tool for thought which aimed to discover new information by using metaphors and analogies with respect to the categories or taxonomies so as to draw links between them.

  8. Jul 2021
  9. Jan 2020
  10. Apr 2016
    1. Catholic Church during the Middle Ages in Europe

      Based in part on Umberto Eco’s well-known text. As well as Medieval Catholics’ attitude towards scriptures, leading to Gutenberg, Luther, Calvin, and literacy campaigns all the way to the current climate of technological determinism.