31 Matching Annotations
  1. Oct 2022
    1. the writer of "scissors and paste history" ;

      One cannot excerpt their way into knowledge, simply cutting and pasting one's way through life is useless. Your notes may temporarily serve you, but unless you apply judgement and reason to them to create something new, they will remain a scrapheap for future generations who will gain no wisdom or use from your efforts.

      relate to: notes about notes being only useful to their creator

    1. For without a clear conceptual plan, an accumulation of excerpts, what Milton called ‘a paroxysm of citations’, can rapidly become a substitute for thought.
    2. In his book on The Footnote, Anthony Grafton quotes a letter by the great Swiss historian of the Renaissance Jacob Burckhardt, reporting that he had just cut up his notes on Vasari’s Lives into 700 little slips and rearranged them to be glued into a book, organised by topic.
    3. But historians still make newspaper cuttings. At breakfast, I often take a pair of scissors to the LRB, the TLS or the New York Review of Books.

      HIstorian Keith Thomas indicated in 2010 that he still regularly took scissors to his newspapers and magazines to excerpt material from them.

    1. The first demo of TidlyWiki from 2004 took the ideas of wiki and applied them to fragments rather than entire pages. The hypothesis was that it would be easier to write in small interlinked chunks that could be gradually massaged into a linear narrative

      The first demo of TidlyWiki from 2004 took the ideas of wiki and applied them to fragments rather than entire pages. The hypothesis was that it would be easier to write in small interlinked chunks that could be gradually massaged into a linear narrativehttps://t.co/v2v6dyL3Oy pic.twitter.com/MJO7tyopr2

      — TiddlyWiki (@TiddlyWiki) September 20, 2022
      <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
    1. Or who, when faced with a book of reference, betray a curiousinability to extract from it the passages relevant to the particular questionwhich interests them?

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

      Writer Jean Paul on the importance of his Zettelkasten.

    1. Ulrich von Bu ̈ low and Dorit Krusche have documented Blumenberg’selaborate method of systematically arranging excerpts from the vast varietyof texts he read: “In Blumenberg’s case, nearly all acts of reading, interpre-tation and ordering took material shape within the Zettelkasten.” 17

      What sort of ordering did Blumenberg's zettelkasten exhibit?

      17 “Bei Blumenberg haben nahezu alle Aspekte der Lektu ̈ re, der Interpretation und der Ordnung im Zettelkasten materielle Gestalt angenommen,” von Bu ̈ low and Krusche, “Vorla ̈ ufiges,” 275.

    1. Sein Nachlass umfasst u. a. Notizen zu allen wichtigen naturphilosophischen Fragen seiner Zeit und Briefwechsel mit seinen Schülern, die sich an den verschiedenen Universitäten des protestantischen Deutschlands und der Niederlande aufhielten. Er schrieb Literaturauszüge, Beobachtungsmitschriften, Vorlesungsvorbereitungen und anderes mehr auf kleine Zettel, von denen heute noch knapp 42.000 in der Stabi erhalten sind.

      machine translation (Google):

      His estate includes i.a. Notes on all important natural-philosophical questions of his time and correspondence with his students who stayed at the various universities in Protestant Germany and the Netherlands. He wrote excerpts from literature, observation notes, lecture preparations and other things on small pieces of paper, of which almost 42,000 are still preserved in the Stabi today.

      Die Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg Carl von Ossietzky (Stabi) houses the almost 42,000 slips of paper from Joachim Jungius' lifetime collection of notes which include excerpts from his reading, observational notes, his lecture preparations, and other miscellaneous notes.

    1. Sincecopying is a chore and a bore, use of the cards, the smaller thebetter, forces one to extract the strictly relevant, to distill from thevery beginning, to pass the material through the grinder of one’s ownmind, so to speak.

      Barbara Tuchman recommended using the smallest sized index cards possible to force one only to "extract the strictly relevant" because copying by hand can be both "a chore and a bore".

      In the same address in 1963, she encourages "distill[ing] from the very beginning, to pass the material through the grinder of one's own mind, so to speak." This practice is similar to modern day pedagogues who encourage this practice, but with the benefit of psychology research to back up the practice.

      This advice is two-fold in terms of filtering out the useless material for an author, but the grinder metaphor indicates placing multiple types of material in to to a processor to see what new combinations of products come out the other end. This touches more subtly on the idea of combinatorial creativity encouraged by Raymond Llull, Matt Ridley, et al. or the serendipity described by Niklas Luhmann and others.


      When did the writing for understanding idea begin within the tradition? Was it through experience in part and then underlined with psychology research? Visit Ahrens' references on this for particular papers to read.

      Link to modality shift research.

    1. He sometimes pasted newsprint cuttings to present a statistical chart or inserted

      a photograph.

      Deutsch's zettelkasten has a variety of patterns including cuttings from newspapers, photos, excerpts, some were handwritten while others were typed, (and some showing many of these all at once!).

    1. Jacques Goutor defines content notes as those that "are drawn in one way or another from the actual contents of the sources." He considers them the most important part of note taking as "they will eventually constitute the pieces of the mosaic." (p20)

      He further breaks this type down into generally self-explanatory "quote notes" and "summary notes". (p20) He does advise that one writes out careful summaries so that one needn't do additional future work of writing notes on one's own notes. While he doesn't state it directly, the presumption in his presentation is that a well written summary can be directly used in one's future written project.


      Compare this type of note to others like evergreen or permanent notes.

    2. The act of note taking acts as a filter between original sources of information and the potential outputs the individual note taker may have an interest in creating.

      (rephrasing from p4)

      me: This level of interest and filtering for potential outputs is part of what creates the individuality of each person's ultimate notes, and in part, is why attempts at creating some sort of universal excerpting project are doomed to failure in the end. No one can excerpt all the pieces from a text that future readers may find interesting, intriguing, or particularly useful, especially when future interests may not yet be delineated or even known at the time of excerpting.

    1. I found in the files three relevant types of "existingmaterials": several theories having to do with the topic;materials already worked up by others as evidence forthose theories; and data already gathered and in variousstages of accessible centralization, but not yet madetheoretically relevant.
    2. My notes seem to be of two sorts. In reading certainvery important books 1 try to grasp the structure of thewriter's thought, and take notes accordingly. But morefrequently, in the last ten years, I do not read whole books,but rather parts of many books, from the point of view ofsome particular theme in which I am interested, and con-cerning which I usually have plans in my file. Therefore, Itake notes which do not fairly represent the books 1 read. Iam using this particular passage, this particular experi-ence, for the realization o f my own projects. Notes takenin this way form the contents o f memory upon which Imay have to call.
  2. Sep 2022
    1. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No partof this book may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever withoutpermission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in criti-cal articles and reviews.—U.S. copyright notice

      The traditional U.S. copyright notice that appears in the front of most books ("No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.") is the result of the centuries long intellectual history of ars excerpendi.

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    1. Sometimes it will be enoughto have analysed the text mentally : it is not alwaysnecessary to put down in black and white the wholecontents of a document ; in such cases we simplyenter the points of which we intend to make use.But against the ever-present danger oi substitutingone's personal impressions for the text there is onlyone real safeguard ; it should be made an invariablerule never on any account to make an extract froma document, or a partial analysis of it, without

      having first made a comprehensive analysis of it mentally, if not on paper.

    1. This space that remained empty for decades now becomes a place; a distinction between space and place, where spaces gain authority not from space appreciated mathematically but place appreciated through human experience. The whole of the interior is painted in black a symbolic act of obliterating the signs of the past and then it is lit up with Black lights in a bold gesture of re- evoking urban memory. The interior building’s structure is re-traced by lines which eventually turns into Mais’ own words glowing in black light, re-animating his workshop and turning it into a beacon of light. This urban structure is torn out of the dust of oblivion for all to see, remember, read and be animated by; a subjective dialogue on social conditions between people and their changing society is created rising from the ground and lighting- up from within.

      I wonder if any of the zettelkasten fans might blow their slips up and decorate their walls with them? Zettelhaus anyone?

    2. The latin, Ars Excerpendi defines, the Art of compiling abstracts or summaries so as to retain such knowledge as is judged indispensable, and to let marginal information fall by the wayside.

      the use of marginal here is wholly unadvisable and causes me stress in this definition...

  3. Aug 2022
    1. Moser, Johann Jacob . 1773. Vortheile vor Canzleyverwandte und Gelehrte in Absicht aufAkten-Verzeichnisse, Auszü ge und Register, desgleichen auf Sammlungen zu kü nfftigenSchrifften und wü rckliche Ausarbeitung derer Schrifften. T ü bingen: Heerbrandt.

      Heavily quoted in chapter 4 with respect to his own zettelkasten/excerpting practice.

      Is there an extant English translation of this?

  4. Apr 2022
    1. One of his last works, the Aurifodina, “The Mine of All Arts and Sci-ences, or the Habit of Excerpting,” was printed in 1638 (in 2,000 copies) andin another fourteen editions down to 1695 and spawned abridgments in Latin(1658), German (1684), and English.

      Simply the word abridgement here leads me to wonder:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    2. Judging from the copies now extant, the number of compilations, especially florilegia and encyclopedic compendia, continued to grow as more writers engaged in selecting and summarizing for their own use and that of others.16

      There is a parallel between these practices and the same sort of practices seen in social media posting, annotating, and bookmarking, however in the digital realm the user interface is so simple that one needn't put very much thought into the process and the results become almost instantaneously meaningless. Was this the case in the medieval context as well, or did the readers/compilers get more out of their practices?

    3. Even if the Speculum was copied only in parts, Vincent of Beauvais exposed the reader to multiple opinions on any topic he discussed. Neither the concordance nor the encyclo-pedic compendium resolved the textual difficulties or contradictions that they helped bring to light. Vincent explicitly left to the reader the task of reaching a final conclusion amid the diversity of authoritative opinions that might exist on a question: “I am not unaware of the fact that philosophers have said many contradictory things, especially about the nature of things. . . . I warn the reader, lest he perhaps be horrified, if he finds some contradictions of this kind among the names of diverse authors in many places of this work, especially since I have acted in this work not as an author, but as an excerptor, that I did not try to reduce the sayings of the philosophers to agreement but report what each said or wrote on each thing; leaving to the judgment of the reader to decide which opinion to prefer.”161

      Interesting that Vincent of Beauvais indicates that there were discrepancies between the authors, but leaves it up to the reader to decide for themself.

      What would the reader do in these cases in a culture before the scientific method and the coming scientific revolutions? Does this statement prefigure the beginning of a cultural shift?

      Are there other examples of (earlier) writers encouraging the the comparison of two different excerpts from "expert" or authoritative sources to determine which should have precedence?

      What other methods would have encouraged this sort of behavior?

    4. Some florilegia focused on poetic excerpts and were used to teach prosody, others specialized in prose. Both kinds were likely used in teaching at many levels—from the young boys (pueri) mentioned in the Opus prosodiacum of Micon Centulensis in the mid- ninth century to the twenty- year- old Heiric who wrote under dictation from Lupus of Ferrières, ca. 859–62, a Col-lectanea comprising excerpts from Valerius Maximus and Suetonius, followed by philosophical and theological sententiae.104

      Some florilegia were used as handbooks to teach composition. Those with poetic excerpts were used to teach prosody while others specialized in prose.

      Examples of these sorts of florilegia include Micon Centulensis' Opus prosodiacum from the mid-ninth century and a Collectanea by Heiric who wrote under dictation from Lupus of Ferrières, ca. 859–62.

    5. Rouse and Rouse (1982), 165–68 for the medieval titles, based on the flower metaphor or others, including liber scintillarum (book of sparks) or pha-retra (quiver).

      In addition to florilegium, the descriptors liber scintillarum (book of sparks) and pharetra (quiver) in addition to other flower metaphors were also used in the medieval period to describe the genre of books in which the best passages from authoritative sources were compiled.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. In the 1740s, Thomas Harrison invented a wooden filing cabinet in which the file cards could be hooked on little tin plates. On each of these plates was written the name of the entry (i.e., the re-spective subject heading), and the plates were arranged in strictly alphabeti-cal order.22

      Thomas Harrison, a TK, invented a wooden filing cabinet in the 1740's for storing slips of paper. Each slip could be hooked onto tin plates which contained the topical or subject headings that were arranged in alphabetical order.

      Harrison's description was anonymously published with corrections and improvements by Vincent Placcius in De arte excerpendi. Vom gelehrten Buchhalten liber singularis (Stockholm/Hamburg, 1689), 124–59, in his hand-book on excerpting systems.

    4. In his manuscript, Harrison spoke of machina with respect to his filing cabinet and named his invention ‘Ark of Studies’. In rhetorical culture, ‘ark’ had been a metaphor that, among many others, denoted the virtual store-house that orators stocked with vivid images of memorable topics (res) and words (verba). In Harrison’s manuscript, ‘ark’ instead became a synonym for ‘mechanical’ memory. In turn, in the distinction between natural and artificial memory, consciousness was compelled to leave its place and to shift to the op-posing side.

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

      Reference Yates and Carruthers for Hugh of St. Victor.