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  2. Nov 2022
    1. Fifty years ago, coinciding with the centennial of the release of Darwin’s manuscript, author Morse Peckham collected all six editions into a single “variorum” text. Peckham painstakingly created a reference system that denotes the modifications and changes between editions. The text was created by Peckham’s careful enumeration of every sentence from every edition, copied onto index cards; from these cards, he carefully assembled them into a final text.
    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ueMHkGljK0

      Robert Greene's method goes back to junior high school when he was practicing something similar. He doesn't say he invented it, and it may be likely that teachers modeled some of the system for him. He revised the system over time to make it work for himself.


      • [x] Revisit this for some pull quotes and fine details of his method. (Done on 2022-11-08)
    2. Origin of Robert Greene's (May 14, 1959 - ) note taking system using index cards:<br /> Greene didn't recall a specific origin of his practices, but did mention that his mom found some index cards at his house from a junior high school class. (Presuming a 12 year old 7th grader, this would be roughly from 1971.) Ultimately when he wrote 48 Laws of Power, he was worried about being overwhelmed with his notes and ideas in notebooks. He naturally navigated to note cards as a solution.

      Uses about 50 cards per chapter.

      His method starts by annotating his books as he reads them. A few weeks later, he revisits these books and notes to transfer his ideas to index cards. He places a theme on the top of each card along with a page number of the original reference.

      He has kept much the same system as he started with though it has changed a bit over time.

      You're either a prisoner of your material or a master of your material.

      This might not be the best system ever created, but it works for me.

      When looking through a corpus of cards for a project, Robert Greene is able to make note of the need to potentially reuse a card within a particular work if necessary. The fact that index cards are inherently mobile within his projects make them easy to move and reuse.

      I haven't heard in either Robert Greene or Ryan Holiday's practices evidence that they reuse notes or note cards from one specific project to the next. Based on all the evidence I've seen, they maintain individual collections for each book project for which they're developing.

      [...] like a chameleon [the index card system is] constantly changing colors or [like] something that's able to change its shape at will. This whole system can change its shape as I direct it.

    3. Robert Greene: (pruriently) "You want to see my index cards?"<br /> Brian Rose: (curiously) Yeah. Can we?? ... This is epic! timestamp

    1. You should also be able to placethe book even more accurately than before in your mental cardcatalogue, for further reference if the occasion should everarise.

      use of "mental card catalogue" as memory

    1. A commonplace book is what a provident poet cannot subsist without, for this proverbial, reason, that "great wits have short memories;" and whereas, on the other hand, poets, being liars by profession, ought to have good memories; to reconcile these, a book of this sort, is in the nature of a supplemental memory, or a record of what occurs remarkable in every day's reading or conversation. There you enter not only your own original thoughts, (which, a hundred to one, are few and insignificant) but such of other men, as you think fit to make your own, by entering them there. For, take this for a rule, when an author is in your books, you have the same demand upon him for his wit, as a merchant has for your money, when you are in his. By these few and easy prescriptions, (with the help of a good genius) it is possible you may, in a short time, arrive at the accomplishments of a poet, and shine in that character[3].

      "Nullum numen abest si sit prudentia, is unquestionably true, with regard to every thing except poetry; and I am very sure that any man of common understanding may, by proper culture, care, attention, and labour, make himself whatever he pleases, except a good poet." Chesterfield, Letter lxxxi.

      See also: https://en.m.wikisource.org/wiki/Page:The_Works_of_the_Rev._Jonathan_Swift,_Volume_5.djvu/261 as a source


      Swift, Jonathan. The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift. Edited by Thomas Sheridan and John Nichols. Vol. 5. 19 vols. London: H. Baldwin and Son, 1801.

    1. From the beginning I found myself deeply challenged and stuck — freaked out by the blank page. So I started to use my skills as a filmmaker. I note-carded it. I had the notes above my computer, and I got to do a little “X” when I finished the draft of a chapter; it was this really satisfying moment.

      Erin Lee Carr talks about using index cards to write a book about her father, but her practice sounds more like index cards with headings as a means of structuring a story and not actually writing the entire work out on cards.

    2. <small><cite class='h-cite via'> <span class='p-author h-card'>Billy Oppenheimer</span> in The Notecard System: Capture, Organize, and Use Everything You Read, Watch, and Listen To (<time class='dt-published'>11/03/2022 16:53:44</time>)</cite></small>

    1. Ronald Reagan notecard

    2. One of the big lies notetakers tell themselves is, “I will remember why I liked this quote/story/fact/etc.”

      Take notes for your most imperfect, forgetful future self. You're assuredly not only not going to remember either the thing you are taking notes for in the first place, but you're highly unlikely to remember why you thought it was interesting or intriguing or that clever thing you initially thought of at the same time.

      Capture all of this quickly in the moment, particularly the interesting links to other things in your repository of notes. These ideas will be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for one to remember.

    3. He has a warehouse of notecards with ideas and stories and quotes and facts and bits of research, which get pulled and pieced together then proofread and revised and trimmed and inspected and packaged and then shipped.

      While the ancients thought of the commonplace as a storehouse of value or a treasury, modern knowledge workers and content creators might analogize it to a factory where one stores up ideas in a warehouse space where they can be easily accessed, put into a production line where those ideas can be assembled, revised, proofread, and then package and distributed to consumers (readers).

      (summary)

    4. If you are like Lebron James or Paul Simon, if you were born with a gift for recall, you might not need a note-taking system.

      I would suggest that this is wholly wrong as both of the memories described are honed for specific situations and not broadly applicable.

      Even those with good natural memories as well as those with significant mnemonic practices can benefit from a structured note taking practice.

    5. In this article, I am going to explain my adapted version of the notecard system.

      Note that he explicitly calls out that his is an adapted version of a preexisting thing--namely a system that was taught to Ryan Holiday who was taught by Robert Greene.

      Presumably there is both some economic and street cred value for the author/influencer in claiming his precedents.

      It's worth noting that he mentions other famous users, though only the smallest fraction of them with emphasis up front on his teachers whose audience he shares financially.

    6. The Notecard System

      This is almost pitched as a product with the brand name "The Notecard System".

    1. raphy. Surely the fault of that savant was not neglecbut over-confidence in the virtue of the fiche, and the true morthat there is no necessary salvation in the fiche and the card-indTh

      Surely the fault of that savant was not neglect, but over-confidence in the virtue of the fiche [index card], and the true moral is that there is no necessary salvation in the fiche and the card-index [aka zettelkasten].

      Here the author is referencing part of the preface of Anatole France's book Penguin Island (1908) where a scholar drowns in a whirlpool of index cards.

      see: https://hypothes.is/a/rYHu0FQZEe2mm4_z4pvWLw

  3. Oct 2022
    1. On the whole, his efficiency probablyreduced the time required for taking and filing notes to the amountother historians spent in note-taking alone. What he wrote in hisnotes was brief, and yet specific enough so that he saved himself thejob of searching at length for what he had read. His mind was freeto reflect and appraise.

      Earl Pomeroy suggests that Paxson's note taking method freed his mind to better reflect and appraise his work. This allows a greater efficiency of work, particularly when it comes to easier search and recall as well as the overall process which becomes easier through practice.

    2. he also put the scraps to-gether into patterns that fascinated his students.
    3. None of these notes wasever used in his writing; probably they were taken with no thoughtof specific use, but out of absorption in the American scene.

      It's quite likely that one will take a large number of notes with no immediate goal or plan for use and this is completely acceptable. Often these notes go towards the more immediate goal of forming one's own understanding and setting of a broader tableau for material one will write in the future.

    1. I feel sympathy for Robert Southey, whose excerpts from his voracious reading were posthumously published in four volumes as Southey’s Common-Place Book. He confessed in 1822 that,Like those persons who frequent sales, and fill their houses with useless purchases, because they may want them some time or other; so am I for ever making collections, and storing up materials which may not come into use till the Greek Calends. And this I have been doing for five-and-twenty years! It is true that I draw daily upon my hoards, and should be poor without them; but in prudence I ought now to be working up these materials rather than adding to so much dead stock.
    2. Since Anatole France’s description in Penguin Island of the scholar drowned by an avalanche of his own index cards, it has been hard to take them seriously.

      In Penguin Island, Anatole France describes a scholar drowned by an avalanche of their own index cards!

    3. Before the Xerox machine, this was a labour-intensive counsel of perfection; and it is no wonder that many of the great 19th-century historians employed professional copyists.

      According to Keith Thomas, "many of the great 19th-century historians employed professional copyists" as a means of keeping up with filing copies of their note slips under multiple subject headings.

    1. Les murs du cabinet de travail, le plancher, le plafond même portaient des liasses débordantes, des cartons démesurément gonflés, des boîtes où se pressait une multitude innombrable de fiches, et je contemplai avec une admiration mêlée de terreur les cataractes de l'érudition prêtes à se rompre. —Maître, fis-je d'une voix émue, j'ai recours à votre bonté et à votre savoir, tous deux inépuisables. Ne consentiriez-vous pas à me guider dans mes recherches ardues sur les origines de l'art pingouin? —Monsieur, me répondit le maître, je possède tout l'art, vous m'entendez, tout l'art sur fiches classées alphabétiquement et par ordre de matières. Je me fais un devoir de mettre à votre disposition ce qui s'y rapporte aux Pingouins. Montez à cette échelle et tirez cette boîte que vous voyez là-haut. Vous y trouverez tout ce dont vous avez besoin. J'obéis en tremblant. Mais à peine avais-je ouvert la fatale boîte que des fiches bleues s'en échappèrent et, glissant entre mes doigts, commencèrent à pleuvoir. Presque aussitôt, par sympathie, les boîtes voisines s'ouvrirent et il en coula des ruisseaux de fiches roses, vertes et blanches, et de proche en proche, de toutes les boîtes les fiches diversement colorées se répandirent en murmurant comme, en avril, les cascades sur le flanc des montagnes. En une minute elles couvrirent le plancher d'une couche épaisse de papier. Jaillissant de leurs inépuisables réservoirs avec un mugissement sans cesse grossi, elles précipitaient de seconde en seconde leur chute torrentielle. Baigné jusqu'aux genoux, Fulgence Tapir, d'un nez attentif, observait le cataclysme; il en reconnut la cause et pâlit d'épouvante. —Que d'art! s'écria-t-il. Je l'appelai, je me penchai pour l'aider à gravir l'échelle qui pliait sous l'averse. Il était trop tard. Maintenant, accablé, désespéré, lamentable, ayant perdu sa calotte de velours et ses lunettes d'or, il opposait en vain ses bras courts au flot qui lui montait jusqu'aux aisselles. Soudain une trombe effroyable de fiches s'éleva, l'enveloppant d'un tourbillon gigantesque. Je vis durant l'espace d'une seconde dans le gouffre le crâne poli du savant et ses petites mains grasses, puis l'abîme se referma, et le déluge se répandit sur le silence et l'immobilité. Menacé moi-même d'être englouti avec mon échelle, je m'enfuis à travers le plus haut carreau de la croisée.

      France, Anatole. L’Île Des Pingouins. Project Gutenberg 8524. 1908. Reprint, Project Gutenberg, 2005. https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/8524/pg8524.html

      Death by Zettelkasten!!

      (Coming soon to a theater near you...)

      In the preface to the novel Penguin Island (L'Île des Pingouins. Calmann-Lévy, 1908) by Nobel prize laureate Anatole France, a scholar is drowned by an avalanche of index cards which formed a gigantic whirlpool streaming out of his card index (Zettelkasten).

      Link to: Historian Keith Thomas has indicated that he finds it hard to take using index cards for excerpting and research seriously as a result of reading this passage in the satire Penguin Island.<br /> https://hypothes.is/a/rKAvtlQCEe2jtzP3LmPlsA


      Translation via: France, Anatole. Penguin Island. Translated by Arthur William Evans. 8th ed. 1908. Reprint, New York, NY, USA: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1922. https://www.google.com/books/edition/Penguin_Island/6UpWAvkPQaEC?hl=en&gbpv=0

      Small changes in the translation by me, comprising only adding the word "index" in front of the occurrences of card to better represent the historical idea of fiches used by scholars in the late 1800s and early 1900s, are indicated in brackets.

      The walls of the study, the floor, and even the ceiling were loaded with overflowing bundles, paste board boxes swollen beyond measure, boxes in which were compressed an innumerable multitude of small [index] cards covered with writing. I beheld in admiration mingled with terror the cataracts of erudition that threatened to burst forth.

      “Master,” said I in feeling tones, “I throw myself upon your kindness and your knowledge, both of which are inexhaustible. Would you consent to guide me in my arduous researches into the origins of Penguin art?"

      “Sir," answered the Master, “I possess all art, you understand me, all art, on [index] cards classed alphabetically and in order of subjects. I consider it my duty to place at your disposal all that relates to the Penguins. Get on that ladder and take out that box you see above. You will find in it everything you require.”

      I tremblingly obeyed. But scarcely had I opened the fatal box than some blue [index] cards escaped from it, and slipping through my fingers, began to rain down.

      Almost immediately, acting in sympathy, the neighbouring boxes opened, and there flowed streams of pink, green, and white [index] cards, and by degrees, from all the boxes, differently coloured [index] cards were poured out murmuring like a waterfall on a mountain-side in April. In a minute they covered the floor with a thick layer of paper. Issuing from their in exhaustible reservoirs with a roar that continually grew in force, each second increased the vehemence of their torrential fall. Swamped up to the knees in cards, Fulgence Tapir observed the cataclysm with attentive nose. He recognised its cause and grew pale with fright.

      “ What a mass of art! ” he exclaimed.

      I called to him and leaned forward to help him mount the ladder which bent under the shower. It was too late. Overwhelmed, desperate, pitiable, his velvet smoking-cap and his gold-mounted spectacles having fallen from him, he vainly opposed his short arms to the flood which had now mounted to his arm-pits . Suddenly a terrible spurt of [index] cards arose and enveloped him in a gigantic whirlpool. During the space of a second I could see in the gulf the shining skull and little fat hands of the scholar; then it closed up and the deluge kept on pouring over what was silence and immobility. In dread lest I in my turn should be swallowed up ladder and all I made my escape through the topmost pane of the window.

    1. As an example, in The Crown season 1 episode 4 “Act of God” (Netflix, 2016) there is a scene portraying former British Prime Minister Clement Atlee in his office in which he is prominently bookended in the background by two four drawer card indexes: one 3 x 5″ and the other 4 x 6″.

      This example comes directly from my notes: https://hypothes.is/a/Cz7e_lHKEe2Qv79IbEgmNw

    1. I can't quite grasp this concept, although it seems interesting for my specific case. Isn't the index box supposed to be organized by alphabetical order? How can personal notes be placed right in such an order?

      los2pollos reply to: https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/y5un81/comment/it667sq/?utm_source=reddit&utm_medium=web2x&context=3

      There are a wide variety of methods of organizing and sorting one's note cards including by topic (usually alphabetical), by date, by idea, by author, by title, etc.

      If you're using it as a diary, you'd probably keep that subsection in order by date written, and then potentially have it cross indexed by subject if those things were important to you.

      If you kept other information like mood, health, activities, exercise, glasses of water per day (for example) on them, you could resort and re-order them by those data as well if you liked. And naturally, this ability to resort/reorder one's notes has been one of the greatest features and affordances to these systems historically.

    2. Memorization is not about a language, rather about a feeling you have about information. In other words, how deep it resonates with your life. In this sense, I was also exploring the idea that having an Antinet Zettelkasten is almost like having a "diary", not for your personal feelings or emotions, rather for exploring the way in which your entire mind and heart work together over the years in which we discover the world. For me, exploring subjects and studying is an internal discovery.

      in reply to los2pollos<br /> https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/y5un81/comment/it4jy3c/?utm_source=reddit&utm_medium=web2x&context=3

      You're not the only one to think of a card index as diary. Roland Barthes practiced this as well. His biographer Tiphaine Samoyault came to call it his fichierjournal.

    1. Andere Sammlungen sind ihrem Verwendungszweck nie zugeführt worden. Der Germanist Friedrich Kittler etwa legte Karteikarten zu allen Farben an, die dem Mond in der Lyrik zugeschrieben worden sind. Das Buch dazu könnte jemand mit Hilfe dieser Zettel schreiben.

      machine translation (Google):

      Other collections have never been used for their intended purpose. The Germanist Friedrich Kittler, for example, created index cards for all the colors that were ascribed to the moon in poetry. Someone could write the book about it with the help of these slips of paper.

      Germanist Friedrich Kittler collected index cards with all the colors that were ascribed to the moon in poetry. He never did anything with his collection, but it has been suggested that one could write a book with his research collection.

    1. There is a box stored in the German Literature Archive in Marbach, thewooden box Hans Blumenberg kept in a fireproof steel cabinet, for it con-tained his collection of about thirty thousand typed and handwritten notecards.1

      Hans Blumenberg's zettelkasten of about thirty thousand typed and handwritten note cards is now kept at the German Literature Archive in Marbach. Blumenberg kept it in a wooden box which he kept in a fireproof steel cabinet.

    1. https://www.loom.com/share/a05f636661cb41628b9cb7061bd749ae

      Synopsis: Maggie Delano looks at some of the affordances supplied by Tana (compared to Roam Research) in terms of providing better block-based user interface for note type creation, search, and filtering.


      These sorts of tools and programmable note implementations remind me of Beatrice Webb's idea of scientific note taking or using her note cards like a database to sort and search for data to analyze it and create new results and insight.

      It would seem that many of these note taking tools like Roam and Tana are using blocks and sub blocks as a means of defining atomic notes or database-like data in a way in which sub-blocks are linked to or "filed underneath" their parent blocks. In reality it would seem that they're still using a broadly defined index card type system as used in the late 1800s/early 1900s to implement a set up that otherwise would be a traditional database in the Microsoft Excel or MySQL sort of fashion, the major difference being that the user interface is cognitively easier to understand for most people.

      These allow people to take a form of structured textual notes to which might be attached other smaller data or meta data chunks that can be easily searched, sorted, and filtered to allow for quicker or easier use.

      Ostensibly from a mathematical (or set theoretic and even topological) point of view there should be a variety of one-to-one and onto relationships (some might even extend these to "links") between these sorts of notes and database representations such that one should be able to implement their note taking system in Excel or MySQL and do all of these sorts of things.

      Cascading Idea Sheets or Cascading Idea Relationships

      One might analogize these sorts of note taking interfaces to Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). While there is the perennial question about whether or not CSS is a programming language, if we presume that it is (and it is), then we can apply the same sorts of class, id, and inheritance structures to our notes and their meta data. Thus one could have an incredibly atomic word, phrase, or even number(s) which inherits a set of semantic relationships to those ideas which it sits below. These links and relationships then more clearly define and contextualize them with respect to other similar ideas that may be situated outside of or adjacent to them. Once one has done this then there is a variety of Boolean operations which might be applied to various similar sets and classes of ideas.

      If one wanted to go an additional level of abstraction further, then one could apply the ideas of category theory to one's notes to generate new ideas and structures. This may allow using abstractions in one field of academic research to others much further afield.

      The user interface then becomes the key differentiator when bringing these ideas to the masses. Developers and designers should be endeavoring to allow the power of complex searches, sorts, and filtering while minimizing the sorts of advanced search queries that an average person would be expected to execute for themselves while also allowing some reasonable flexibility in the sorts of ways that users might (most easily for them) add data and meta data to their ideas.


      Jupyter programmable notebooks are of this sort, but do they have the same sort of hierarchical "card" type (or atomic note type) implementation?

    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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dU7efgGEOgk

      I wish he'd gotten into more of the detail of the research and index card making here as that's where most of the work lies. He does show some of his process of laying out and organizing the cards into some sort of sections using 1/3 cut tabbed cards. This is where his system diverges wildly from Luhmann's. He's now got to go through all the cards and do some additional re-reading and organizational work to put them into some sort of order. Luhmann did this as he went linking ideas and organizing them up front. This upfront work makes the back side of laying things out and writing/editing so much easier. It likely also makes one more creative as one is regularly revisiting ideas, juxtaposing them, and potentially generating new ones along the way rather than waiting until the organization stage to have some of this new material "fall out".

    1. https://lifehacker.com/the-pile-of-index-cards-system-efficiently-organizes-ta-1599093089

      LifeHacker covers the Hawk Sugano's Pile of Index Cards method, which assuredly helped promote it to the GTD and productivity crowd.

      One commenter notices the similarities to Ryan Holiday's system and ostensibly links to https://thoughtcatalog.com/ryan-holiday/2013/08/how-and-why-to-keep-a-commonplace-book/

      Two others snarkily reference using such a system to "keep track of books in the library [,,,] Sort them out using decimal numbers on index cards in drawers or something..." and "I need to tell my friend Dewey about this! He would run with it." Obviously they see the intellectual precursors and cousins of the method, though they haven't looked at the specifics very carefully.

      One should note that this may have been one of the first systems to mix information management/personal knowledge management with an explicit Getting Things Done set up. Surely there are hints of this in the commonplace book tradition, but are there any examples that go this far?

    1. there might be a miscellaneous division, which wouldserve as a "tickler" and which might even be equipped with a set ofcalendar guides so that the "follow-up" system may be used.

      An example of a ticker file in the vein of getting things done (GTD) documented using index cards and a card file from 1917. Sounds very familiar to the Pile of Index Cards (PoIC) from the early 2000s.

    2. Sutherland, Lois Gilbert. “The English Teacher’s Card File.” The English Journal 6, no. 2 (1917): 111–12. https://doi.org/10.2307/801508.


      Lois Gilbert Sutherland suggests using a card index system for multiple uses in the classroom including notes, administration, and general productivity.

      There are so many parallels from this to how people are using platforms like Obsidian, Roam Research, and Notion in 2022.

    1. http://www.greyroom.org/issues/60/20/the-dialectic-of-the-university-his-masters-voice/

      “The Indexers pose with the file of Great Ideas. At sides stand editors [Mortimer] Adler (left) and [William] Gorman (right). Each file drawer contains index references to a Great Idea. In center are the works of the 71 authors which constitute the Great Books.” From “The 102 Great Ideas: Scholars Complete a Monumental Catalog,” Life 24, no. 4 (26 January 1948). Photo: George Skadding.

    1. Index cards for commonplacing?

      I know that Robert Greene and Ryan Holiday have talked about their commonplace methods using index cards before, and Mortimer J. Adler et al. used index cards with commonplacing methods in their Great Books/Syntopicon project, but is anyone else using this method? Where or from whom did you learn/hear about using index cards? What benefits do you feel you're getting over a journal or notebook-based method? Mortimer J. Adler smoking a pipe amidst a sea of index cards in boxes with 102 topic labels (examples: Law, World, Love, Life, Being, Sin, Art, Citizen, Change, etc.)

    1. Here again we seethe emphasis on writing as a movement that resists reification andall the intimidations of language. It is not surprising that Barthesshould have sought a form that would foster this infinite process. Theform lay, not in the fragment as such, but in the organization orarrangement that could be made from the fragments. He underlinedthis on an unpublished index card from 16 July 1979: ‘I can clearlysee this much (I think): my “notes” (Diary) as such, are not enough (Iincline towards them but in fact they’re a failure). What’s needed isanother turn of the screw, a “key”, which will turn these Notes-Diaryinto the mere notes of work that will be constructed and writtencontinuously: basically, to write notes, the index cards: to classifythem, turn them into bundles, and as I usually do, compose by takingone bundle after another.’11
    2. These index cards,which Barthes began as a student, using them as a bibliographicaland then lexicographical resource, gradually became the place wherehe recorded a great deal of his life. In them, he assembled things hehad seen and heard, travel impressions, phrases that he liked, ideasand plans.

      Roland Barthes used his card index as more than the traditional bibliographical, excerpting, and note taking tool that many had before him. He also used it to accumulate notes on what he had seen and heard in his daily life, phrases he liked, and plans. It came to serve the function, particularly in the last two years of his life, of a diary or what biographer Tiphaine Samoyault came to call his fichierjournal or index-card diary.


      Are there examples of this practice before this time? Certainly in the commonplace book tradition, the ideas of journal, diary, and commonplace had been mixed before.

    3. These index cards,which Barthes began as a student, using them as a bibliographicaland then lexicographical resource, gradually became the place wherehe recorded a great deal of his life.

      Roland Barthes began using index cards as a student.

    4. Bouttes contributedfrequently to Barthes’s seminar and gave an unusual paper at thecolloque de Cerisy called ‘Le diamantfoudre’ (‘The diamond-lightning’). He was darkly dazzling, strange, sombre, unexpected.Barthes thought he had something of Des Esseintes about him,witness an anecdote noted in his card index diary: ‘J.L.: in a phasewhere, in the restaurant, he deconstructs the menus, greatlyshocking the waiters. The other evening, at Prunier’s, oysters andoyster gratin, yesterday, at Le Balzar, oeuf en gelée and oysters,coffee ice cream and ice cream.’59
      1. BNF, NAF 28630, ‘Grand fichier’, 3 January 1975.

      Roland Barthes' biographer Tiphaine Samoyault quotes portions of what he calls Barthes' card index diary.

      This can also be seen in the published cards which comprise Barthes' Mourning Diary about the period following his mother's death.

      Are there other people who've used their card index as a diary the way that some use it for productivity?

      syndication link

    1. Examining the cards, it becomes clear that the index constitutes not a mythic totalhistory but a specific set of facts and data that piqued Deutsch’s interest and whichreflected his personal research priorities (see Figure 2).

      Zettelkasten, if nothing else, are a close reflection of the interests of the author who collected them.

      link: Ahrens mentions this

    2. Max Raisin (1881–1957),reflected that lessons often devolved into ‘reading several events with dates out of alittle notebook’ (Raisin, 1952: 147; Hertzman, 1985: 83-8).

      Max Raisin indicated that Gotthard Deutsch read several events with dates out of a little notebook during lectures. Was this really a notebook or possibly a small stack/deck of index cards? The could certainly be easily mistaken....

      Check these references

    3. Lustig, Jason. “‘Mere Chips from His Workshop’: Gotthard Deutsch’s Monumental Card Index of Jewish History.” History of the Human Sciences, vol. 32, no. 3, July 2019, pp. 49–75. SAGE Journals, https://doi.org/10.1177/0952695119830900

      Cross reference preliminary notes from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0952695119830900

    1. Indeed, Deutsch’s index is massive but middling, especially when placed alongside those of Niklas Luhmann, Paul Otlet, or Gershom Scholem.

      Curious how Deutsch's 70,000 facts would be middling compared to Luhmann's 90,000? - How many years did Deutsch maintain and collect his version?<br /> - How many publications did he contribute to? - Was his also used for teaching?

      Otlet didn't create his collection alone did he? Wasn't it a massive group effort?

      Check into Gershom Scholem's collection and use. I've not come across his work in this space.

    2. Does Deutsch’s index constitute a great unwritten work of history, as some have claimed, or are the cards ultimately useless ‘chips from his workshop’?

      From his bibliography, it appears that Deutsch was a prolific writer and teacher, so how will Lustig (or others he mentions) make the case that his card index was useless "chips from his workshop"? Certainly he used them in writing his books, articles, and newspaper articles? He also was listed as a significant contributor to an encyclopedia as well.

      It'd be interesting to look at the record to see if he taught with them the way Roland Barthes was known to have done.

    3. Gotthard Deutsch (1859–1921) taught at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati from 1891 until his death, where he produced a card index of 70,000 ‘facts’ of Jewish history.

      Gotthard Deutsch (1859-1921) had a card index of 70,000 items relating to Jewish history.

    1. https://forums.nanowrimo.org/t/linking-up-zettelkasten-or-card-index-method-writers/433719

      Looking for writers who are using an index card-based, Zettelkasten (German translation: slip box), or fichier boîte method for writing. Both traditional methods in the vein of Vladimir Nabokov, Michael Ende, Anne Lamott, Roland Barthes, Umberto Eco, or Robert Pirsig as well as Niklas Luhmann-esque methods (perhaps better for non-fiction) are fine.

      Commonplace book practitioners are also welcome.

      How many index cards will it take you to get to 50,000 words? (Reminder: It’s easier to write a few sentences or an index card at a time than focusing on thousands of words a day…)

    1. Built and assembled without anyparticular significance or any value, Walter de Maria's Boxes for MeaninglessWork could also be an echo of Duchamp's sound strategies. In aparallel project, Robert Morris realized Card File (1962-3), a series ofcards on which a series of hazy concepts are written and laid out alphabetically on a vertical support. Through this initial process, Morriscreated a description of the necessary stages required to achieve thework. The terms used in this file include such things as accidents,alphabets, cards, categories, conception, criticism, or decisions, dissatisfactions, durations, forms, future, interruptions, names, numbers,possibilities, prices, purchases, owners, and signature. As a result, thework had no content other than the circumstances of its execution.Through this piece, Morris also asserted that if one wished to understand and penetrate all subtleties of the work, one would have toconsider all the methods used in bringing it forth. The status of thework of art is immediately called into question, because the range ofcards can undergo a change:In a broad sense art has always been on object, static and final, eventhough structurally it may have been a depiction or existed as afragment. What is being attacked, however, is something more thanart as icon. Under attack is the rationalistic notion that art is a formof work that results in a finished product. Duchamp, of course,attacked the Marxist notion that labor was an index of value, butReadymades are traditionally iconic art objects. What art now has inits hand ismutable stuffwhich need not arrive at the point of beingfinalized with respect to either time or space. The notion thatworkis an irreversible process ending in a static icon-object no longer hasmuch relevance.25Marcel Duchamp's musical and "Dismountable approximation" illustrate this process perfectly. John Cage recalled that "for his final opus,Given: 1. The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating Gas, exhibited in Philadelphia, [Duchamp] wrote a book [the "Dismountable approximation"]that provided a blueprint for dismantling the work and rebuilding it.26It also provided information on how to proceed, as well as the only definition of the musical notation, isn't that so? So it is a musical work ofart; because when you follow the instructions you produce sounds."27But Given: 1. The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating Gas was never createdas a musical piece, even though it is entirely "possible to do it. . . .Andif one takes it like a musical piece, one gets the piece [that Duchamp]This content downloaded from 194.27.18.18 on Fri, 18 Dec 2015 12:35:27 UTCAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

      card file as art!

    1. https://archive.org/details/refiningreadingw0000meij/page/256/mode/2up?q=index+card

      Refining, reading, writing : includes 2009 mla update card by Mei, Jennifer (Nelson, 2007)

      Contains a very generic reference to note taking on index cards for arranging material, but of such a low quality in comparison to more sophisticated treatments in the century prior. Apparently by this time the older traditions have disappeared and have been heavily watered down into just a few paragraphs.

    1. Cattell, J. McKeen. “Methods for a Card Index.” Science 10, no. 247 (1899): 419–20.


      Columbia professor of psychology calls for the creation of a card index of references to reviews and abstracts for areas of research. Columbia was apparently doing this in 1899 for the psychology department.

      What happened to this effort? How similar was it to the system of advertising cards for books in Germany in the early 1930s described by Heyde?

    1. Dwyer, Edward J. “File Card Efficiency.” Journal of Reading 26, no. 2 (1982): 171–171.

      Ease of use in writing and grading with short assignments by using 4 x 6" index cards in classrooms.

      This sounds like some of the articles from 1912 and 1917 about efficiency of card indexes for teaching.

      I'm reminded of some programmed learning texts that were card-based (or really strip-based since they were published in book form) in the 1960s and 1970s. Thse books had small strips with lessons or questions on the front with the answers on the reverse. One would read in strips through the book from front to back and then start the book all over again on page one on the second row of strips and so on.

    1. Rotzel, Grace. “Card File.” The English Journal 6, no. 10 (December 1917): 691–691. https://doi.org/10.2307/801092.

      Follow up note to prior article indicating some sorter term benefits of filing student work and taking notes on it for helping to create improvement over time.

    2. In the February, 1917, number of the English Journal there warticle on "The English Teacher's
    1. Breitenbach, H. P. “The Card Index for Teachers.” The School Review 20, no. 4 (1912): 271–72.


      Apparently in 1912, the card index was little known to teachers... this isn't the sort of use case I was expecting here...

      The general gist of this short note is an encouraging one to suggest that instead of traditional grade books, which are still used heavily in 2022, teachers should use rolodex like cards for keeping attendance and notes on a student's progress.

      Presumably this never caught on. While some elementary teachers still use older paper gradebooks, many others have transferred to digital LMS platforms.

    1. Goutor, Jacques. The Card-File System of Note-Taking. Approaching Ontario’s Past 3. Toronto: Ontario Historical Society, 1980. http://archive.org/details/cardfilesystemof0000gout

    2. I love that he closes the pamphlet again with a nod to comfort and ease of use.

      ...what this pamphlet has sought to do is to make it possible for the researcher to develop a way of doing things which will be as productive and as comfortable as possible.

    3. ...the historian is only as good as his card-file.<br /> —Jacques Goutor, (p360

    4. I love the phrasing of the title of his penultimate section "Making the card-file work", which makes it seem like the card file is ultimately doing the work of writing. Ultimately however, it's the work that was put into it that makes the card file useful, a sentiment that Jacques Goutor emphasizes when he says "How well this succeeds depends partly upon what was put into the file, and partly on how it was put in." (p34)

    5. Thesis to bear out (only tangentially related to this particular text):

      Part of the reason that index card files didn't catch on, especially in America, was that they didn't have a solid/concrete name by which they went. The generic term card index subsumed so much in relation to library card catalogues or rolodexes which had very specific functions and individualized names. Other cultures had more descriptive names like zettelkasten or fichier boîte which, while potentially bland within their languages, had more specific names for what they were.

    6. For the second time Goutor mentions using different size cards for different note types, but doesn't specifically advise for it or provide a reason. Perhaps his advice for consistency and card size applies only to cards of particular types? (p28)

      link to: https://hypothes.is/a/XPphjkNZEe2s3i9VV4qt1g


      Incidentally he also specifically mentions 7x9" cards here too. How frequently used were these as a standard?

    7. Goutor defines self-help notes as notes which one would use to refresh their memory about what remains to be done or researched, problems that remain to be solved, or information which is needed to be researched or found. (p26) These are akin in some sense to what I call "open questions". He also indicates that these notes might be triggered by one's daily activities or occasional musings which relate to one's project but occur outside of its active pursuit. In this sense, they have a similar feel to the idea of Ahrens' fleeting notes, but in Goutor's practice they aren't defined as occurring while one is doing active reading or research.

      He suggests that one keeps these notes in a separate area so that they might be systematically and regularly visited for review, further research, or answering as the opportunities to do so present themselves. Once the questions have been answered and appropriate notes updated or added, these self-help notes can be discarded.

    8. While he previously recommended using note cards of the same size, the examples in Goutor (1980) have 3x5" cards for bibliographic notes and 5x7" or larger cards for content notes. (p19, 21)


      Is there a reason stated anywhere here for this discrepancy or change? One would ostensibly keep them in different places/sections of one's card index, but does the size difference help to differentiate the two to aid in sorting? Is the larger card intended to hold more long form writing?

      Goutor is in Canada, so were 5x7" cards more common or standardized there in the late 1970s and early 80s?

      A5 measures 148 × 210 millimeters or 5.83 × 8.27 inches, so is a bit larger than 5x7".

      5x7" is a more standard photo size, so was this chosen as the result of storage options from the photography space?

      5x7" is scantly available in America in 2022, but only from Hamilco. A few others make cardstock in that size but not specifically as index cards.

    9. There is a difference between various modes of note taking and their ultimate outcomes. Some is done for learning about an area and absorbing it into one's own source of general knowledge. Others are done to collect and generate new sorts of knowledge. But some may be done for raw data collection and analysis. Beatrice Webb called this "scientific note taking".

      Historian Jacques Goutor talks about research preparation for this sort of data collecting and analysis though he doesn't give it a particular name. He recommends reading papers in related areas to prepare for the sort of data acquisition one may likely require so that one can plan out some of one's needs in advance. This will allow the researcher, especially in areas like history or sociology, the ability to preplan some of the sorts of data and notes they'll need to take from their historical sources or subjects in order to carry out their planned goals. (p8)

      C. Wright Mills mentions (On Intellectual Craftsmanship, 1952) similar research planning whereby he writes out potential longer research methods even when he is not able to spend the time, effort, energy, or other (financial) resources to carry out such plans. He felt that just the thought experiments and exercise of doing such unfulfilled research often bore fruit in his other sociological endeavors.

    10. Goutor indicates that "a certain amount of individual in methods is commendable, and indeed necessary." but that "it soon becomes apparent that there are some ways of doing things more efficient and ultimately more productive than others". But he goes on to bemoan that how to manuals offer little help.

      (p3, Introduction)

    1. Portion of a hand-written card file listing manuscripts, documents, and portraits contained in the Boston Public Library's Chamberlain Collection of Autographs. Cards are organized by last name of the creator or subject. Names of persons who have signed documents are also listed.
    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. I am trying, you see, to build aframework containing all the key elements which enterinto the work; then to put each section in separate fbldersand continually readjust the whole framework aroundchanges in them.

      Evidence that Mills is talking specifically about papers and individual folders (potentially tagged or categorized) rather than a card index system.

    3. certainly surrounding oneself with acircle of people who will listen and t a l k - - a n d at times theyhave to be imaginary characters--is one of them

      Intellectual work requires "surfaces" to work against, almost as an exact analogy to substrates in chemistry which help to catalyze reactions. The surfaces may include: - articles, books, or other writing against which one can think and write - colleagues, friends, family, other thinkers, or even imaginary characters (as suggested by C. Wright Mills) - one's past self as instantiated by their (imperfect) memory or by their notes about excerpted ideas or their own thoughts


      Are there any other surfaces we're missing?

    4. But how is this f i l e - - w h i c h so far must seem to thereader more like a j o u r n a l - - u s e d in intellectual produc-tion?

      By asking this question this way, Mills is explicitly indicating that his "file" is not a journal, and by implication probably doesn't take the form of a notebook, though we should be on the lookout for more evidence of this given the long tradition of the commonplace book.

    5. Use of File

      It bears pointing out that Mills hasn't specifically described the form of his "file". Is he using note cards, slips, sheets of paper? Ostensibly one might suppose given his context and the word "file" which he uses that he may be referring to either hanging files, folders, and sheets of paper, or a more traditional index card file.

    6. A personal file is thesocial organization of the individual's memory; it in-creases the continuity between life and work, and it per-mits a continuity in the work itself, and the planning of thework; it is a crossroads of life experience, professionalactivities, and way of work. In this file the intellectualcraftsman tries to integrate what he is doing intellectuallyand what he is experiencing as a person.

      Again he uses the idea of a "file" which I read and understand as similar to the concepts of zettelkasten or commonplace book. Unlike others writing about these concepts though, he seems to be taking a more holistic and integrative (life) approach to having and maintaining such system.

      Perhaps a more extreme statement of this might be written as "zettelkasten is life" or the even more extreme "life is zettelkasten"?

      Is his grounding in sociology responsible for framing it as a "social organization" of one's memory?


      It's not explicit, but this statement could be used as underpinning or informing the idea of using a card index as autobiography.

      How does this compare to other examples of this as a function?

    7. In the file, onecan experiment as a writer and thus develop o n e ' s ownpowers of expression.
  4. Sep 2022
    1. By the way, for smaller collections and even more so for catalogues, the meaningful“Rothahn”-Normschaltbuch [normative book] can be applied.

      What is this??

    2. More important is the fact that recently some publishershave started to publish suitable publications not as solid books, but as file card collections.An example would be the Deutscher Karteiverlag [German File Card Publishing Company]from Berlin, which published a “Kartei der praktischen Medizin” [File Card of PracticalMedicine], published unter the co-authorship of doctors like R.F. Weiß, 1st edition (1930ff.).Not to be forgotten here is also: Schuster, Curt: Iconum Botanicarum Index, 1st edition,Dresden: Heinrich 1926

      As many people used slip boxes in 1930s Germany, publishers sold texts, not as typical books, but as file card collections!

      Link to: Suggestion that Scott Scheper publish his book on zettelkasten as a zettelkasten.

    3. Many know from their own experience how uncontrollable and irretrievable the oftenvaluable notes and chains of thought are in note books and in the cabinets they are stored in

      Heyde indicates how "valuable notes and chains of thought are" but also points out "how uncontrollable and irretrievable" they are.

      This statement is strong evidence along with others in this chapter which may have inspired Niklas Luhmann to invent his iteration of the zettelkasten method of excerpting and making notes.

      (link to: Clemens /Heyde and Luhmann timeline: https://hypothes.is/a/4wxHdDqeEe2OKGMHXDKezA)

      Presumably he may have either heard or seen others talking about or using these general methods either during his undergraduate or law school experiences. Even with some scant experience, this line may have struck him significantly as an organization barrier of earlier methods.

      Why have notes strewn about in a box or notebook as Heyde says? Why spend the time indexing everything and then needing to search for it later? Why not take the time to actively place new ideas into one's box as close as possibly to ideas they directly relate to?

      But how do we manage this in a findable way? Since we can't index ideas based on tabs in a notebook or even notebook page numbers, we need to have some sort of handle on where ideas are in slips within our box. The development of European card catalog systems had started in the late 1700s, and further refinements of Melvil Dewey as well as standardization had come about by the early to mid 1900s. One could have used the Dewey Decimal System to index their notes using smaller decimals to infinitely intersperse cards on a growing basis.

      But Niklas Luhmann had gone to law school and spent time in civil administration. He would have been aware of aktenzeichen file numbers used in German law/court settings and public administration. He seems to have used a simplified version of this sort of filing system as the base of his numbering system. And why not? He would have likely been intimately familiar with its use and application, so why not adopt it or a simplified version of it for his use? Because it's extensible in a a branching tree fashion, one can add an infinite number of cards or files into the midst of a preexisting collection. And isn't this just the function aktenzeichen file numbers served within the German court system? Incidentally these file numbers began use around 1932, but were likely heavily influenced by the Austrian conscription numbers and house numbers of the late 1770s which also influenced library card cataloging numbers, so the whole system comes right back around. (Ref Krajewski here).

      (Cross reference/ see: https://hypothes.is/a/CqGhGvchEey6heekrEJ9WA

      Other pieces he may have been attempting to get around include the excessive work of additional copying involved in this piece as well as a lot of the additional work of indexing.

      One will note that Luhmann's index was much more sparse than without his methods. Often in books, a reader will find a reference or two in an index and then go right to the spot they need and read around it. Luhmann did exactly this in his sequence of cards. An index entry or two would send him to the general local and sifting through a handful of cards would place him in the correct vicinity. This results in a slight increase in time for some searches, but it pays off in massive savings of time of not needing to cross index everything onto cards as one goes, and it also dramatically increases the probability that one will serendipitously review over related cards and potentially generate new insights and links for new ideas going into one's slip box.

    1. Posted byu/jackbaty4 hours agoCard sizes .t3_xib133._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; } I've been on-again/off-again with paper for PKM, but one thing remains consistent each time: I don't enjoy using 4x6 index cards. I much prefer 3x5-inch cards. I realize that it's irrational, but there it is.My question is if I dive into building an antinet, will I regret using 3x5 cards? I already have hundreds of them. I have dividers, holders, and storage boxes for them. I just prefer how they _feel_, as weird as that sounds.I'd like to hear if people are using 3x5 cards successfully or if you've come to regret it.

      While it may be slightly more difficult to find larger metal/wood cases for the 4x6 or 5x8 cards, it's a minor nuisance and anyone who wants them will eventually find the right thing for them. Beyond this, choose the card size that feels right to you.

      If you don't have an idea of what you need or like, try things out for 10-20 cards and see how it works for you, your handwriting size, and general needs. People have been using 3x5, 4x6, and even larger for hundreds of years without complaining about any major issues. If Carl Linnaeus managed to be okay with 3x5, which he hand cut by the way, I suspect you'll manage too.

      Of course I won't mention to the Americans the cleverness of the A6, A5, A4 paper standards which allows you to fold the larger sizes in half to get the exact next smaller size down. Then you might get the benefit of the smaller size as well as the larger which could be folded into your collection of smaller cards, you just have to watch out for accidentally wrapping ("taco-ing") a smaller card inside of a larger one and losing it. I suppose you could hand cut your own 5" x 6" larger cards to do this if you found that you occasionally needed them.

      For the pocketbook conscious, 3x5 does have the benefit of lower cost as well as many more options and flexibility than larger sizes.

      At least commercial card sizes are now largely standardized, so you don't have deal with changing sizes the way Roland Barthes did over his lifetime.

      My personal experience and a long history of so many manuals on the topic saying "cards of the same size" indicates that you assuredly won't have fun mixing different sized slips together. I personally use 3x5" cards in a waste book sense, but my main/permanent collection is in 4x6" format. Sometimes I think I should have done 3 x 5, but it's more like jealousy than regret, particularly when it comes to the potential of a restored fine furniture card catalog. But then again...

    1. As I write this book, for instance, I am sitting in a small room, beforea laptop computer, surrounded by books, papers, and magazines—all ofwhich I am, in some metaphorical sense, “in conversation with” (in muchthe same way I am also in conversation with you, my imagined reader).But what I am actually doing is working with a set of materials—lookingfor books on my shelves and flipping through them, folding pages over ormarking them with Post-its, retyping passages, filing and retrieving print-outs and photocopies, making notes in margins and on index cards, and,of course, composing, cutting, pasting, formatting, revising, and printingblocks of prose. I am, that is, for the most part, moving bits of text and paperaround.

      Joseph Harris uses a mélange of materials to make his writing including books, papers, magazines, from which he is copying sections out, writing in margins, making notes on index cards and then moving those pieces of text and pieces of paper (the index cards, and possibly Post-it notes) around to create his output.

      He doesn't delineate a specific process for his excerpting or note taking practice. How does he organize his notes? Is he just pulling them from piles around him? Is there a sense of organization at all?

    1. Live-Roaming: Using Roam to teach students in college

      I'd listened to this whole episode sometime since 2022-04-05, but didn't put it in my notes.

      Mark Robertson delineates how he actively models the use of his note taking practice (using Roam Research) while teaching/lecturing in the classroom. This sort of modeling can be useful for showing students how academics read, gather, and actively use their knowledge. It does miss the portion about using the knowledge to create papers, articles, books, etc., but the use of this mode of reading and notes within a discussion setting isn't terribly different.

      Use of the system for conversation/discussion with the authors of various texts as you read, with your (past) self as you consult your own notes, or your students in classroom lectures/discussion sections is close to creating your own discussion for new audiences (by way of the work your write yourself.)

      https://www.buzzsprout.com/1194506/4875515-mark-robertson-history-socratic-dialogue-live-roaming.mp3

    1. The casting director Marion Dougherty, in the documentary Casting By (dir. Tom Donahue, 2012): “I would keep the three-by-five card. I would put down anything that hit my mind.” The card for Dustin Hoffman (whose first screen appearance was in an episode of Naked City) notes Bob Duval’s (Robert Duvall’s) judgment that Hoffman is “v.g.” — very good. Notice the name of Blair Brown in the third screenshot. The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd is an Orange Crate Art and Musical Assumptions favorite.

      The documentary Casting By (2012) shows casting director Marion Dougherty's 3 x 5" index card collection which she used for casting notes. In particular they show an example card for Dustin Hoffman with his details. In Hoffman's case, his card included the older telephone numbers with exchanges (EN2-6933 or Endicott2 6933), so these cards may have also served a contact purpose similar to more modern rolodexes. Different from them however, Dougherty's also included heights, credits, and other observations relevant to the casting process.

      Screen capture from the movie

    1. https://mleddy.blogspot.com/2010/01/card-file-steals-scene-in-tv-debut.html

      The card index in the episode of “Betty, Girl Engineer,” from the second season of Father Knows Best, first aired on April 11, 1956, is ostensibly a rolodex, though the teacher hands out the cards without copying them.

      Lots of sexism in this episode...

    1. I’m not sure how to explain the photograph — that might be a cardfile, not a shoebox. The number of blue lines per card in the Pale Fire passage suggests that John Shade used 6 x 4 cards. It looks like Nabokov in the car has 6 x 4s too.

      What size index cards did Vladimir Nabokov use?

      See also: series of Nabokov photos of him and index cards.

    2. After a leisurely lunch, prepared by the German cook who came with the house, I would spend another four-hour span in a lawn chair, among the roses and mockingbirds, using lined index cards and a Blackwing pencil, for copying and recopying, rubbing out and writing anew, the scenes I had imagined in the morning. Foreword to Lolita: A Screenplay (1973)
    3. The manuscript, mostly a Fair Copy, from which the present text has been faithfully printed, consists of eighty medium-sized index cards, on each of which Shade reserved the pink upper line for headings (canto number, date) and used the fourteen light-blue lines for writing out with a fine nib in a minute, tidy, remarkably clear hand, the text of this poem, skipping a line to indicate double space, and always using a fresh card to begin a new canto. Pale Fire (1962) [From Charles Kinbote's foreword to his edition of John Shade's poem.]
    1. Author Vladimir Nabokov at work, writing on index cards in his car.Location:Ithaca, NY, USDate taken:September 1958Photographer:Carl MydansSize:1280 x 889 pixels (17.8 x 12.3 inches)

      Author Vladimir Nabokov at work, writing on index cards in his car.

    1. Posted byu/piloteris16 hours agoCreative output examples .t3_xdrb0k._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; } I am curious about examples, if any, of how an anti net can be useful for creative or artistic output, as opposed to more strictly intellectual articles, writing, etc. Does anyone here use an antinet as input for the “creative well” ? I’d love examples of the types of cards, etc

      They may not necessarily specifically include Luhmann-esque linking, numbering, and indexing, but some broad interesting examples within the tradition include: Comedians: (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zettelkasten for references/articles) - Phyllis Diller - Joan Rivers - Bob Hope - George Carlin

      Musicians: - Eminem https://boffosocko.com/2021/08/10/55794555/ - Taylor Swift: https://hypothes.is/a/SdYxONsREeyuDQOG4K8D_Q

      Dance: - Twyla Tharpe https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000SEOWBG/ (Chapter 6)

      Art/Visual - Aby Warburg's Mnemosyne Atlas: https://warburg.sas.ac.uk/archive/archive-collections/verkn%C3%BCpfungszwang-exhibition/mnemosyne-materials

      Creative writing (as opposed to academic): - Vladimir Nabokov https://www.openculture.com/2014/02/the-notecards-on-which-vladimir-nabokov-wrote-lolita.html - Jean Paul - https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00168890.2018.1479240 - https://journals.co.za/doi/abs/10.10520/EJC34721 (German) - Michael Ende https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Endes-Zettelkasten-Skizzen-Notizen/dp/352271380X

    1. Google Forms and Sheets allow users toannotate using customizable tools. Google Forms offers a graphicorganizer that can prompt student-determined categorical input andthen feeds the information into a Sheets database. Sheetsdatabases are taggable, shareable, and exportable to other software,such as Overleaf (London, UK) for writing and Python for coding.The result is a flexible, dynamic knowledge base with many learningapplications for individual and group work

      Who is using these forms in practice? I'd love to see some examples.

      This sort of set up could be used with some outlining functionality to streamline the content creation end of common note taking practices.


      Is anyone using a spreadsheet program (Excel, Google Sheets) as the basis for their zettelkasten?

      Link to examples of zettelkasten as database (Webb, Seignobos suggestions)

      syndication link


    1. arranged according to their subject-matter ;" that" epigraphic monuments belonging to the sameterritory mutually explain each other when placedside by side ;" and, lastly, that " while it is all butimpossible to range in order of subject-matter ahundred thousand inscriptions nearly all of whichbelong to several categories ; on the other hand,each monument has but one place, and a verydefinite place, in the geographical order."

      Similar to the examples provided by Beatrice Webb in My Apprenticeship, the authors here are talking about a sort of scientific note taking method that is ostensibly similar to that of the use of a modern day computer database or spreadsheet function, but which had to be effected in index card form to do the sorting and compiling and analysis.

      Do the authors here use the specific phrase scientific note taking? It appears that they do not.

    2. the method of slips is the only one mechanicallypossible for the purpose of forming, classifying, andutiUsing a collection of documents of any greatextent. Statisticians, financiers, and men of letterswho observe, have now discovered this as well asscholars.

      Moreover

      A zettelkasten type note taking method isn't only popular and useful for scholars by 1898, but is useful to "statisticians, financiers, and men of letters".

      Note carefully the word "mechanically" here used in a pre-digital context. One can't easily keep large amounts of data in one's head at once to make sense of it, so having a physical and mechanical means of doing so would have been important. In 21st century contexts one would more likely use a spreadsheet or database for these types of manipulations at increasingly larger scales.

    1. chapter 4 includes repro-ductions of index cards with handwritten corrections andadditions. As unfamiliar as this way of taking notes may beto today’s students, it evokes nostalgic memories for thoseof us who attended college before the 1990s.

      In 2015, when considering Umberto Eco's use of index cards in his classic book How to Write a Thesis, Francesco Erspamer comments that taking notes using index cards was more common and even nostalgic for those who attended college prior to 1990

    2. Bibliographical Index Card File

      Note that here in the index, Eco differentiates the index card file with the descriptor "bibliographical" as there is another card file that will play a part.

  5. Aug 2022
    1. 1. Heavy Duty ConstructionAll welded construction. Six channel uprights providethe basis for an exceptionally stable frame.2. Secured Drawer ContentsPrevent unauthorized access to valuable or sensitiveinformation with our integrated keyed gang-lock.3. Gang Locking of DrawersPlunger style lock secures all drawers simultaneously.4. Maximum StabilityFour leveling glides provide additional stability andbetter drawer alignment when floors are unlevel.5. Store More Than Just CardsVersatile drawer sizes offer secure storage for almostanything, including paper documents, computer media,CDs, blu-ray discs, etc.6. Drawers Stay ShutPositive locking thumb latches ensure thatdrawers stay closed until ready to open them.7. Solid FoundationBase has a fully welded, enclosed bottom to keep theunit structurally aligned even when fully loaded.8. Durable, Attractive FinishPowder-coated durable finish.12356784CARD AND MULTIMEDIA

      https://www.tennsco.com/AppFiles/BROCHURES/Filing%20Brochure%20-%20Web.pdf

      4 x 6" cards<br /> CF-846 $1,746.00 43,400 card capacity<br /> CF-646

    1. Card Storage

      reply on: https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/wzblc9/card_storage/

      The smaller 1 to 3 drawer vintage metal card files are readily available on eBay usually between $15 and $40. This isn't bad given how expensive new files can run. Many were made with small fittings that allow them to be stackable. Usually these are sturdy, but light enough for relatively inexpensive shipping.

      The larger multi drawer full cabinets can run a couple hundred, but their bigger issue is that they're so large and heavy that they can be in the range of $800 or more to ship anywhere. If you want something like this, your best bet is to try to find something local that you can drive to and pick up locally. If you're into 4x6" cards, double check with the seller to make sure that they'll fit. Often even the somewhat larger cabinets are a 1/4" too short for 4x6 cards, much less the slightly taller tabbed cards (A-Z) you might use for separating sections. I've refinished some old steel furniture like this in the past and it's not easy or cheap, but if someone is desperate...

      https://www.ebay.com/b/Index-Card-File-Cabinet-In-Office-Filing-Cabinets/3299/bn_7022123911

      Those who might want something new might also look into Bisley which makes some reasonably nice card index files with and without locks, though you might have to order them directly through their New York Offices. https://www.bisley.sk/userfiles/bisley/product/e84b22bf2d7156d048ad076ff74f895d.pdf

    1. When Vladimir Nabokov died in 1977, he left instructions for his heirs to burn the 138 handwritten index cards that made up the rough draft of his final and unfinished novel, The Original of Laura. But Nabokov’s wife, Vera, could not bear to destroy her husband’s last work, and when she died, the fate of the manuscript fell to her son. Dmitri Nabokov, now seventy-five—the Russian novelist’s only surviving heir, and translator of many of his books—has wrestled for three decades with the decision of whether to honor his father’s wish or preserve for posterity the last piece of writing of one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century.

      Nabokov's wishes were that his heirs burn the index cards on which he had handwritten the beginning of his unfinished novel The Original of Laura. His wife Vera, not able to destroy her husband's work, couldn't do it, so the decision fell to their son Dimitri. Having translated many of his father's works previously, Dimitri Nabokov ultimately allowed Penguin the right to publish the unfinished novel.

    1. While Heyde outlines using keywords/subject headings and dates on the bottom of cards with multiple copies using carbon paper, we're left with the question of where Luhmann pulled his particular non-topical ordering as well as his numbering scheme.

      While it's highly likely that Luhmann would have been familiar with the German practice of Aktenzeichen ("file numbers") and may have gotten some interesting ideas about organization from the closing sections of the "Die Kartei" section 1.2 of the book, which discusses library organization and the Dewey Decimal system, we're still left with the bigger question of organization.

      It's obvious that Luhmann didn't follow the heavy use of subject headings nor the advice about multiple copies of cards in various portions of an alphabetical index.

      While the Dewey Decimal System set up described is indicative of some of the numbering practices, it doesn't get us the entirety of his numbering system and practice.

      One need only take a look at the Inhalt (table of contents) of Heyde's book! The outline portion of the contents displays a very traditional branching tree structure of ideas. Further, the outline is very specifically and similarly numbered to that of Luhmann's zettelkasten. This structure and numbering system is highly suggestive of branching ideas where each branch builds on the ideas immediately above it or on the ideas at the next section above that level.

      Just as one can add an infinite number of books into the Dewey Decimal system in a way that similar ideas are relatively close together to provide serendipity for both search and idea development, one can continue adding ideas to this branching structure so they're near their colleagues.

      Thus it's highly possible that the confluence of descriptions with the book and the outline of the table of contents itself suggested a better method of note keeping to Luhmann. Doing this solves the issue of needing to create multiple copies of note cards as well as trying to find cards in various places throughout the overall collection, not to mention slimming down the collection immensely. Searching for and finding a place to put new cards ensures not only that one places one's ideas into a growing logical structure, but it also ensures that one doesn't duplicate information that may already exist within one's over-arching outline. From an indexing perspective, it also solves the problem of cross referencing information along the axes of the source author, source title, and a large variety of potential subject headings.

      And of course if we add even a soupcon of domain expertise in systems theory to the mix...


      While thinking about Aktenzeichen, keep in mind that it was used in German public administration since at least 1934, only a few years following Heyde's first edition, but would have been more heavily used by the late 1940's when Luhmann would have begun his law studies.

      https://hypothes.is/a/CqGhGvchEey6heekrEJ9WA


      When thinking about taking notes for creating output, one can follow one thought with another logically both within one's card index not only to write an actual paper, but the collection and development happens the same way one is filling in an invisible outline which builds itself over time.

      Linking different ideas to other ideas separate from one chain of thought also provides the ability to create multiple of these invisible, but organically growing outlines.

    1. ManuelRodriguez331 · 8 hr. agotaurusnoises wrote on Aug 20, 2022: Technik des Wissenschaftlichen Arbeitens by Johannes Erich HeydeThe idea of grouping similar notes together with the help of index cards was mainstream knowledge in the 1920'er. Melvil Dewey has invented the decimal classification in 1876 and it was applied to libraries and personal note taking as well.quote: “because for every note there is a systematically related one in the immediate vicinity. [...] A good, scholarly book can grow out of the mere collection of notes — not an ingenious one, indeed" [1]The single cause why it wasn't applied more frequently was because of the limitation of the printing press. In the year 1900 only 100 scholarly journals were available in the world. There was no need to write more manuscripts and teach the art of Scientific Writing to a larger audience.[1] Kuntze, Friedrich: Die Technik der geistigen Arbeit, 1922

      reply to: https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/wrytqj/comment/ilax9tc/?utm_source=reddit&utm_medium=web2x&context=3

      Index card systems were insanely popular in the early 1900's for note taking and uses of all other sorts (business administration, libraries, etc.). The note taking tradition of the slip box goes back even further in intellectual history with precedents including miscellanies, commonplace books, and florilegia. Konrad Gessner may have been one of the first to have created a method using slips of rearrangeable paper in the 1500s, but this general pattern of excerpting, note taking and writing goes back to antiquity with the concept of locus communis (Latin) and tópos koinós (Greek).

      What some intellectual historians are hoping for evidence of in this particular source is a possible origin of the idea of the increased complexity of direct links from one card to another as well as the juxtaposition of ideas which build on each other. Did Luhmann innovate this himself or was this something he read or was in general practice which he picked up? Most examples of zettelkasten outside of Luhmann's until those in the present, could be described reasonably accurately as commonplace books on index cards usually arranged by topic/subject heading/head word (with or without internal indices).

      Perhaps it was Luhmann's familiarity with Aktenzeichen (German administrative "file numbers") prior to his academic work which inspired the dramatically different form his index card-based commonplace took? See: https://hyp.is/CqGhGvchEey6heekrEJ9WA/www.wikiwand.com/de/Aktenzeichen_(Deutschland)

      Is it possible that he was influenced by Beatrice Webb's ideas on note taking from Appendix C of My Apprenticeship (1924) which was widely influential in the humanities and particularly sociology and anthropology? Would he have been aware of the work of historians Ernst Bernheim followed by Charles Victor Langlois and Charles Seignobos? (see: https://hypothes.is/a/DLP52hqFEe2nrIMdrd4U7g) Did Luhmann's law studies expose him to the work of jurist Johann Jacob Moser (1701-1785) who wrote about his practice in his autobiography and subsequently influenced generations of practitioners including Jean Paul and potentially Hegel?

      There are obviously lots of unanswered questions...

    1. https://scottscheper.com/letter/36/

      Clemens Luhmann, Niklas' son, has a copy of a book written in German in 1932 and given to his father by Friedrich Rudolf Hohl which ostensibly is where Luhmann learned his zettelkasten technique. It contains a 34 page chapter titled Die Kartei (the Card Index) which has the details.