721 Matching Annotations
  1. Feb 2024
  2. Jan 2024
    1. With your Kokuyo Binder- do you know of a way to bind relatively large numbers of pages together? I want to use something like this as my commonplace book and archive as I go, but once I get enough archived on a given subject, I'd like to bind it as a sort of compendium. Does that seem possible with these or are they not good for larger numbers of pages?

      reply to u/modspyder at https://www.reddit.com/r/commonplacebook/comments/18fbwqx/comment/ko8bksm/

      The small plastic binder I use comfortably holds 50 pages, but has room for maybe 25 more (though not 50). You could use several of them for binding together groups of pages like that. Searching around might reveal larger ring binders here if you want larger books.

      For larger quantities:

      You can use book rings (sold in various sizes) or even binder clips to hold these sheets together in batches, but with the ability to remove them or add sheets later.

      File folders might be a useful option too for holding things together in categories.

      With some inexpensive book binder's glue and cardboard you could bind together much larger numbers of sheets into custom books for yourself. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nivNPCoAHcM is a good basic primer, but you could also do more complicated bindings and covers or have pages bound at FedEx/Kinkos or other higher end professional binders depending on your need and ultimate budget. For this the sky may be the limit, though anything over 1000 pages may be getting awfully bulky.

    1. Without seeming to realize the split between the two ideas, Cahall seems to have organically discovered the basic difference between a topically oriented commonplace book method (on index cards) and a Luhmann-artig method of numbering cards as folgezettel.

      He recommends picking one or the other, or potentially doing both and not worrying.

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

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

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

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


      link to Franklin quote: https://hypothes.is/a/HZeDKI3YEeyj9GcNWKX4iA

  3. Dec 2023
    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGGQNqBaFDA<br /> Homekeeping Schedule by FindingKellyAnn<br /> posted Jul 25, 2013

      Example of a user's Sidetracked Home Executives card index.

      Includes a section of notes she took on a book at one time. She used it for a while and reported that it was successful, but she no longer uses it and has a binder method instead.

    1. Getting over the fear of perfection .t3_188j2xt._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; } I have so many half-filled notebooks or ones that I abandoned because I disliked my penmanship or because I “ruined” pages. I am the type of person who will tear out a page if I make a mistake or if it looks bad.I really want to start a commonplace book but I feel like I must get over this fear of “messing up” in a notebook. Anyone else struggle with this?

      reply to u/FusRoDaahh at https://www.reddit.com/r/commonplacebook/comments/188j2xt/getting_over_the_fear_of_perfection/

      I had this problem too, but eventually switched to keeping my commonplace entirely on index cards, which also allows me to move them around and re-arrange them as necessary or when useful. (It also fixed some of my indexing problems.)

      The side benefit is that if I botch a single card, no sweat, just pull out a new one and start over! If you like the higher end stationery scene afforded in notebooks, then take a look at Clairfontaine's bristol cards from Exacompta which are lush and come in a variety of sizes, colors, and rulings. (They're roughly equivalent to the cost per square meter of paper you'll find in finer notebooks like Leuchtturm, Hobonichi, Moleskine, etc., though some of the less expensive index cards still do well with many writing instruments.) Most of their card sizes are just about perfect for capturing the sorts of entries that one might wish to commonplace.

      Once you've been at it a while, if you want to keep up with the luxe route that some notebook practices allow, then find yourself a classy looking box to store them all in to make your neighbors jealous. My card indexes bring me more joy than any notebook ever did.

      When penmanship becomes a problem, then you can fix it by printing your cards, or (even better in my opinion), typing them on your vintage Smith-Corona Clipper.

      And of course the first thing one could type out on their first card and file it at the front where you can see it every day:

      "Le mieux est le mortel ennemi du bien" (The better is the mortal enemy of the good).<br /> — Montesquieu, in Pensées, 1726

      aka "Don't let perfection be the enemy of the good."

    1. Best Organization/Index System? .t3_18aggj9._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; }

      reply to u/whiteo3 at https://www.reddit.com/r/commonplacebook/comments/18aggj9/best_organizationindex_system/

      One of the most common methods may be using John Locke's indexing system. https://publicdomainreview.org/collection/john-lockes-method-for-common-place-books-1685/ (And, yes, it's THAT John Locke...)

      You could have a single notebook you use as your index which indexes the rest. Not sure how you number pages (or not), but you could keep a running page number from one notebook to the next to make differentiating notebooks a bit easier.

      W. Ross Ashby was known to keep running page numbers across notebooks like this, however, instead of a notebook-based index, he actually used index cards to index them (the way libraries used to index books by subject, but instead of indexing books, he was obviously indexing quotes, ideas, and notes). So you could use a card with your index word on it with page numbers (and potentially brief notes). Then just file the category headings alphabetically to find them later. His collection has been digitized, so you can view it online to see what he was doing: http://www.rossashby.info/journal/index.html

      If you want to do hybrid paper/digital you could look at https://www.indxd.ink/, a digital, web-based index tool for your analog notebooks. Ostensibly allows one to digitally index their paper notebooks (page numbers optional). It emails you weekly text updates, so you've got a back up of your data if the site/service disappears.

      I've used Obsidian in combination with Hypothes.is and documented the way I created a subject index out of it: https://boffosocko.com/2022/05/20/creating-a-commonplace-book-or-zettelkasten-index-from-hypothes-is-tags/

      I've also used WordPress as a commonplace of sorts and documented what I did to make an index for that: https://boffosocko.com/2021/09/04/an-index-for-my-digital-commonplace-book/

      Searching the entire sub may also unearth other options to get your creative indexing juices flowing: https://www.reddit.com/r/commonplacebook/search/?q=index&restrict_sr=1

      Good luck!

  4. Nov 2023
    1. Chapter 39 of Zoonomia, “On Generation,” presents Erasmus’ ideas on competition, extinction, and how “different fibrils or molecules are detached from…the parent…to form” the child. The Temple of Nature goes even farther, declaring “all vegetables and animals now existing were originally derived from the smallest microscopic ones, formed by spontaneous vitality” in ancient oceans.

      Interesting to contemplate the evolution of the idea of evolution through the Darwin family.

      Charles would obviously have read his grandfather's book, but it also bears noting that he also had access to his grandfather's commonplace book (and likely his other papers).

      See also: https://hypothes.is/a/FmVxQuqJEey33Uu0UTcMlg

    1. GRMacGirl · 3 days agoSame. I journal them in a Commonplace Book. If I feel the need to keep a note IN the book for some reason I write it on a separate piece of paper and tuck it between the pages. Exception: cooking/recipe books where I need to have the information right there any time I’m cooking the food.

      Interesting use of the verb "journal" to indicate placing something into a commonplace book.

    1. Cannot get it either to be honest. I want to use the antinet method for 2 main topics: Management and Personal growthIn management, for sure needs to add notion of leadership for example: how to approach the coding identification? I’ve assigned 2000 to management: shall I assign 2500 to all cards related to leadership? This is just an example, it’s a bit unclear for me so far.

      reply to u/marco89lcdm at https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/17m7ggz/comment/k839k22/?utm_source=reddit&utm_medium=web2x&context=3

      The way you're currently thinking is a top down approach in which you already know everything and you're attempting to organize it to make it easier for others who know nothing about the ideas to find them. The Luhmann model supposes you know nothing about anything to begin with and you're attempting to create order from the bottom up, solely by putting related ideas you're building on close to each other and giving them numbers so that you might find them again when you need them.

      If your only use is for those two topics and closely related subtopics and nothing else, then consider not using a Luhmann-artig model? Leave off the numbers and create two tabbed cards with those headings (and possibly related subheadings) and then sort your related cards behind them. (This is closer to the commonplace book tradition maintained on index cards and used by those like Mortimer J. Adler et al., Robert Greene, Ryan Holiday and Billy Oppenheimer. Example: https://billyoppenheimer.com/notecard-system/)

      Otherwise the mistake you may be making is mentally associating the top level numbers with the topics. Break this habit! The numbers are only there so you can index ideas against them to be able to find them again! These numbers aren't like the Dewey Decimal system where 510.### will always mean something to do with math. You'll specifically want to intermingle disparate topics, so the only purpose the numbers provide is the ability to find what you're looking for by using the index which will give you a neighborhood in which you'll find the ideas you know are going to be hiding there or very near by.

      Cards that are near to each other (using the numbers as an idea of ordering and re-finding) create a neighborhood of related ideas, even if they're disparate in topics. This might allow you to intermingle two related ideas, one which is in anthropology and another from mathematics for example, but which would otherwise potentially be thousands of cards away from each other if done in a Dewey-like system.

      Or to take your example, what do you do with an idea that relates to both management AND personal growth? If it's closer to an idea on management you might place it near a related idea on that branch rather than in the personal growth section where it may be potentially less useful in the future. (You can always cross index them if need be, but place it where it creates the closest link and thus likely the greatest value for building on top of your previous ideas.)

      For more on this, try: https://boffosocko.com/2022/10/27/thoughts-on-zettelkasten-numbering-systems/

      I suspect that Scheper suggests using the Academic Outline of Disciplines as a numbering structure because it's an early choice he made for himself and it provides a perch to give people a concrete place to start. Sadly this does a disservice because it's closer to the older commonplace topical method rather than to the spirit of the ordering that Luhmann was doing. It's especially difficult for beginners who have a natural tendency to want to do this sort of top-down approach.

  5. Oct 2023
    1. Posted byu/practicalSloth2 days agoAnyone use a FiloFax or similar for a commonplace book? .t3_17drtzn._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; } I really like the idea of being able to re-sort pages and was wondering if anyone has tried something like this? I've also considered an "Everbook", but was a bit concerned with all the loose pages of paper flying around everywhere

      u/practicalSloth interested in implementing a commonplace book using a FiloFax!

    2. Anyone use a FiloFax or similar for a commonplace book? .t3_17drtzn._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; }

      reply to u/practicalSloth at https://www.reddit.com/r/commonplacebook/comments/17drtzn/anyone_use_a_filofax_or_similar_for_a_commonplace/

      For centuries, many have kept their commonplace books on index cards or slips of paper) rather than on book/notebook pages just like you're suggesting. They then indexed them against topic words and filed the ideas alphabetically rather than writing them in books and indexing them separately.

      Some popular versions of the practice which are described/viewable online include:

      Others with index card or small slip-based commonplaces include Ronald Reagan, Phyllis Diller (whose commonplaced joke file is now at the Smithsonian), and Joan Rivers.

      In German, this general practice was called zettelkasten (which translates as slip box), there are lots of people doing versions of this in r/Zettelkasten following some of Niklas Luhmann's method. Many more are using digital platforms like Obsidian, Logseq, etc. for this.

      Certainly putting it into a FiloFax is a flexible and doable option.

      I've written a bit about the mistaken identities and differences between Niklas Luhmann's practice which has become popular in English speaking countries over the last decade and index card-based commonplaces: https://boffosocko.com/2022/10/22/the-two-definitions-of-zettelkasten/.

      Perhaps some of the examples will give you some ideas for how to best do your own. Good luck!

  6. Sep 2023
    1. https://kairos.technorhetoric.net/2.1/features/brent/index.htm

      An interesting commonplace book-like old school website with an actual "index" and fascinatingly about "Rhetorics of the Web"!

      Example of a collected quote: https://kairos.technorhetoric.net/2.1/features/brent/burke.htm

      Note also the linked ideas at the bottom of this example.

      It also has a references section: https://kairos.technorhetoric.net/2.1/features/brent/referenc.htm

      The separations of the pieces and their form is very reminiscent of a zettelkasten and the building up of pieces in places almost admits to a hand-built wiki.

    1. Merchants have their waste book, Sudelbuch or Klitterbuch in German I believe, in which they list all that they have sold or bought every single day, everything as it comes and in no particular order. The waste book’s content is then transferred to the Journal in a more systematic fashion, and at last it ends up in the “Leidger [sic] at double entrance,” following the Italian way of bookkeeping. […] This is a process worthy of imitation by the learned.”(See Ulrich Joost’s analysis in this volume, 24-35.)

      I've seen this quote earlier today, but interesting seeing another source quote it.

    1. I mean, just what I said. If you adapt the zettelkasten to meet knowledge management needs, that’s great. But it does need adapting (as your examples, none of which are conversation-partner zettelkästen but, as syntopicon implies, a collection of information gathered into categories) and is not the best way to do it. (Edit: Ryan Holiday’s system is, by his own admission, not a zettelkästen despite being a bunch of cards with notes on them categorized in a box). Even the source you use about Goitein admits that he was more in the commonplace book tradition, and that other people’s use of his cards is not common to the point of being remarked on here. He doesn’t even call it a zettelkästen, and shouldn’t. There’s not even links or reference numbers, which are integral to the ZK system.It’s not an argument. But as with everything ymmv.(For what it’s worth, my ZK is extremely specific to my individual projects and readings. But I imagine that yes, with time and heavy adaptations, you can make it into little more than a record of my knowledge into broad topics. That you can use it that way does not mean that’s what it is for.)

      reply to u/glugolly at https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/16njtfx/comment/k1l8lyk/?utm_source=reddit&utm_medium=web2x&context=3

      How is it that you're defining knowledge management or knowledge management system?

      I would argue that any zettelkasten of any stripe is taking knowledge/ideas from either content or one's own brain and transferring them into some sort of media by which they are managed or structured in some way for later linking, combination, or other reuse. By base definition this is clearly knowledge management. I don't know how one defines it otherwise except by pure denial.

      Your view of zettelkasten seems remarkably narrow. As a small sample the original Maschinen der Phantasie Marbach exhibition in 2013, which broadly prefigured the popularization of zettelkasten (and in particular the launch of zettelkasten.de) which we see today featured six zettelkasten of which Luhmann's was the only one with reference numbers or what we might now consider explicit HTML-like links. Most of the others contained either explicit groupings or implied links, but that doesn't diminish the value they held for their creators for creating a conversation of ideas for them. Incidentally most of the zettelkasten featured there prefigured Luhmann's and only two were roughly contemporaneous with his.

      If you look more closely at Adler, et al. you'll notice that the entire purpose of their enterprise was to create and nurture a conversation between themselves and their readers with texts and authors spanning over 2,500 years, a point which is underlined by the introductory volume which preceded the two volumes of the Syntopicon. Not coincidentally, that first volume of the 54 book series was entitled "The Great Conversation."

      Specifically from Adler's "How to Read a Book", the first edition of which predated the Great Books of the Western World:

      Reading a book should be a conversation between you and the author.

      This is a process which is effectuated by

      Marking a book is literally an expression of your differences or your agreements with the author. It is the highest respect you can pay him.

      and later,

      That is to make notes about the shape of the discussion-the discussion that is engaged in by all of the authors, even if unbeknownst to them. For reasons that will become clear in Part Four, we prefer to call such notes dialectical.

      (As an aside, why aren't more people talking about the nature of dialectical notes, which seem far more important and useful than either fleeting notes and permanent notes?)

      In your link to Holiday, he doesn't say his system isn't a zettelkasten, a word which an English speaker was highly unlikely to have used in 2013 in any case, even when referencing Manfred Kuehn from 2007. It simply indicates that "[Luhmann's] discipline seems to exceed mine because I am a lot less ordered".

      The Goitein source (which I wrote) may use commonplace book as a descriptor but that doesn't mitigate the fact that the entirety of the zettelkasten tradition arises from it (the primary difference being things written (usually) on bound pages versus slips of paper). Before these there was the closely related idea of florilegia stemming from the earlier locus communis (Latin) and tópos koinós (Greek).

    1. According to his biographer, Michael Keene, General Patton used to use a similar system: “He read every treatise on warfare ever written. He would take copious notes on 4-by-6 index cards for every book that he ever read. It was that immense knowledge of history that he had that he could bring to battle. So he could almost anticipate what the enemy was going to do next.”

      via SAMUEL MORNINGSTAR comment on August 14, 2014 at 5:22 pm

      According to Patton: Blood, Guts, and Prayer by Michael Keene, General George Patton used a 4x6" index card system for note taking.

    2. I was searching for notecard systems after reading Will and Ariel Durant’s dual autobiography and not having much luck. The book talks a lot about his writing and the use of “classification slips” to cover the depth of material, especially for The Story of Civilization series they did.

      via SAM on January 15, 2017 at 8:54 pm

      Apparently Will Durant and Ariel Durant used a form of commonplace book set up in which they used "classification slips".

    3. -It looks like the system is also very similar to Luhmann’s Zettelkasten

      Ryan Holiday's system puts some of the work farther from the note taking origin compared with Nicholas Luhmann's system which places more of it up front.

      How, if at all, do the payoffs from doing each of these vary for the end user of the system?

    1. folgezettel pushes the note maker toward making at least one connection at the time of import.

      There is a difference between the sorts of links one might make when placing an idea into an (analog) zettelkasten. A folgezettel link is more valuable than a simple tag/category link because it places an idea into a more specific neighborhood than any handful of tags. This is one of the benefits of a Luhmann-artig ZK system over a more traditional commonplace one, particularly when the work is done up front instead of being punted to a later time.

      For those with a 1A2B3Z linking system (versus a pure decimal system), it may be more difficult to insert a card before other cards rather than after them because of the potential gymnastics of numbering and the natural tendency to put things into a continuing linear order.

      See also: - https://hypothes.is/a/ToqCPq1bEe2Q0b88j4whwQ - https://hyp.is/WtB2AqmlEe2wvCsB5ZyL5A/docdrop.org/download_annotation_doc/Introduction-to-Luhmanns-Zette---Ludecke-Daniel-h4nh8.pdf

    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iRzF_ZAdUI

      Scott Sheper demonstrates one of the lowest forms of zettelkasten: simply indexing an idea from a book into one's index. This includes skipping the step of excerpting the idea into it's own card.

      He describes it as zettelkasten knowledge building for busy people. It's definitely a hard turn from his all-in Luhmann-esque method.

      In the end it comes down to where one puts in the work. Saving the work of having done some reading for a small idea one may tangentially reference later is most of the distance, but he's still going to have to do more work later to use the idea.

    1. (1:20.00-1:40.00) What he describes is the following: Most of his notes originate from the digital using hypothes.is, where he reads material online and can annotate, highlight, and tag to help future him find the material by tag or bulk digital search. He calls his hypothes.is a commonplace book that is somewhat pre-organized.

      Aldrich continues by explaining that in his commonplace hypothes.is his notes are not interlinked in a Luhmannian Zettelkasten sense, but he "sucks the data" right into Obsidian where he plays around with the content and does some of that interlinking and massage it.

      Then, the best of the best material, or that which he is most interested in working with, writing about, etc., converted into a more Luhmannesque type Zettelkasten where it is much more densely interlinked. He emphasizes that his Luhmann zettelkasten is mostly consisting of his own thoughts and is very well-developed, to the point where he can "take a string of 20 cards and ostensibly it's its own essay and then publish it as a blog post or article."

    1. The first is a commonplace. By combining analysis with experimentation-by combining theorizing with systematic observation of natural phenomena-men like Gali­leo and Newton launched an intellectual revolution and helped to usher in our modern age of science. Not only did they dis­cover truths about the physical world that continue to be rele­vant and important, but they also developed new methods of studying nature that have proved to be of wide usefulness in many areas of study and research.

      Adler has juxtaposed the ideas of genius and commonplace together, but somehow doesn't notice the ratchet that ties them together to be one and the same tool for making them so productive?!?

  7. Aug 2023
    1. For context, I don't use a traditional Zettelkasten system. It's more of a commonplace book/notecard system similar to Ryan HolidayI recently transitioned to a digital system and have been using Logseq, which I enjoy. It's made organizing my notes and ideas much easier, but I've noticed that I spend a lot of time on organizing my notesSince most of my reading is on Kindle, my process involves reading and highlighting as I read, then exporting those highlights to Markdown and making a page in Logseq. Then I tag every individual highlightThis usually isn't too bad if a book/research article has 20-30 highlights, but, for example, I recently had a book with over 150 highlights, and I spent about half an hour tagging each oneI started wondering if it's overkill to tag each highlight since it can be so time consuming. The advantage is that if I'm looking for passages about a certain idea/topic, I can find it specifically rather than having to go through the whole bookI was also thinking I could just have a set of tags for each book/article that capture what contexts I'd want to find the information in. This would save time, but I'd spend a little more time digging through each document looking for specificsCurious to hear your thoughts, appreciate any suggestions

      reply to m_t_rv_s__n/ at https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/164n6qg/is_this_overkill/

      First, your system is historically far more traditional than Luhmann's more specific practice. See: https://boffosocko.com/2022/10/22/the-two-definitions-of-zettelkasten/

      If you're taking all the notes/highlights from a particular book and keeping them in a single file, then it may be far quicker and more productive to do some high level tagging on the entire book/file itself and then relying on and using basic text search to find particular passages you might use at a later date.

      Spending time reviewing over all of your notes and tagging/indexing them individually may be beneficial for some basic review work. But this should be balanced out with your long term needs. If your area is "sociology", for example, and you tag every single idea related to the topic of sociology with #sociology, then it will cease to have any value you to you when you search for it and find thousands of disconnected notes you will need to sift through. Compare this with Luhmann's ZK which only had a few index entries under "sociology". A better long term productive practice, and one which Luhmann used, is indexing one or two key words when he started in a new area and then "tagging" each new idea in that branch or train of though with links to other neighboring ideas. If you forget a particular note, you can search your index for a keyword and know you'll find that idea you need somewhere nearby. Scanning through the neighborhood of notes you find will provide a useful reminder of what you'd been working on and allow you to continue your work in that space or link new things as appropriate.

      If it helps to reframe the long term scaling problem of over-tagging, think of a link from one idea to another as the most specific tag you can put on an idea. To put this important idea into context, if you do a Google search for "tagging" you'll find 240,000,000 results! If you do a search for the entirety of the first sentence in this paragraph, you'll likely only find one very good and very specific result, and the things which are linked to it are going to have tremendous specific value to you by comparison.

      Perhaps the better portions of your time while reviewing notes would be taking the 150 highlights and finding the three to five most important, useful, and (importantly) reusable ones to write out in your own words and begin expanding upon and linking? These are the excerpts you'll want to spend more time on and tag/index for future use rather than the other hundreds. Over time, you may eventually realize that the hundreds are far less useful than the handful (in management spaces this philosophy is known as the Pareto principle), so spending a lot of make work time on them is less beneficial for whatever end goals you may have. (The make work portions are often the number one reason I see people abandoning these practices because they feel overwhelmed working on raw administrivia instead of building something useful and interesting to themselves.) Naturally though, you'll still have those hundreds sitting around in a file if you need to search, review, or use them. You won't have lost them by not working on them, but more importantly you'll have gained loads of extra time to work on the more important pieces. You should notice that the time you save and the value you create will compound over time.

      And as ever, play around with these to see if they work for you and your specific needs. Some may be good and others bad—it will depend on your needs and your goals. Practice, experiment, have fun.

      Meme image from Office Space featuring a crowd of office employees standing in front of a banner on the wall that reads: Is this Good for the Zettelkasten?

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

      syndication links: https://www.reddit.com/r/commonplacebook/comments/16118vy/john_dickersons_digital_commonplace/

    1. Sir RichardLivingstone said: "We are tied down, all our days and forthe greater part of our days, to the commonplace. That iswhere contact with great thinkers, great literature helps.

      What is the original context of this quote? Which meaning of "the commonplace" does he mean? The generic or the commonplace book?

    1. The American Philosopher Eric Hoffer was a great quotation collector. he has boxes and boxes of them all typed up on index cards. I began doing it after reading his biography where before they were scattered everywhere.

      Eric Hoffer apparently had a collection of quotes which he kept on index cards in boxes.

      Potentially mentioned in one of his biographies. Possibly:<br /> - American Iconoclast: The Life and Times of Eric Hoffer by Tom Shachtman https://www.amazon.com/American-Iconoclast-Life-Times-Hoffer/dp/1933435380<br /> - Eric Hoffer: The Longshoreman Philosopher by Tom Bethell https://www.amazon.com/Eric-Hoffer-Longshoreman-Philosopher-Institution/dp/0817914153

  8. Jul 2023
    1. I regularly copy favorite sentences and passages from my reading into a small notebook I’ve kept since I was in my early 20s.

      Michael Dirda keeps a version of a commonplace book.

    1. Overloaded with notes .t3_15218d5._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; } A few years ago I moved from Evernote to Obsidian. Evernote had this cool web clipper feature that helped me gather literary quotes, tweets, Wikipedia facts, interview bits, and any kinds of texts all around the web. And now I have a vault with 10k notes.I am trying to review a few every time I open Obsidian (add tags, link it, or delete) but it is still too much.Did someone have the same experience? How did you manage to fix everything and move to a bit more controllable system (zettelkasten or any other)?Cus I feel like I am standing in front of a text tsunami

      reply to u/posh-and-repressed at https://www.reddit.com/r/ObsidianMD/comments/15218d5/overloaded_with_notes/

      Overwhelm of notes always reminds me of this note taking story from 1908: https://boffosocko.com/2022/10/24/death-by-zettelkasten/ If you've not sorted them, tagged/categorized them or other, then search is really your only recourse. One of the benefits of Luhmann's particular structure is that it nudged him to read and review through older cards as he worked and filed new ones. Those with commonplace books would have occasionally picked up their notebooks and paged through them from time to time. Digital methods like Obsidian don't always do a good job of allowing or even forcing this review work on the user, so you may want to look at synthetic means like one of the random note plugins. Otherwise don't worry too much. Fix your tagging/categorizing/indexing now so that things slowly improve in the future. (I'm sitting on a pile of over 50K notes without the worry of overwhelm, primarily as I've managed to figure out how to rely on my index and search.)

    1. Converting Commonplace Books? .t3_14v2ohz._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; }

      reply to u/ihaveascone at https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/14v2ohz/converting_commonplace_books/

      Don't convert unless you absolutely need to, it will be a lot of soul-crushing make work. Since some of your practice already looks like Ross Ashby's system, why not just continue what you've been doing all along and start a physical index card-based index for your commonplaces? (As opposed to a more classical Lockian index.) As you browse your commonplaces create index cards for topics you find and write down the associated book/page numbers. Over time you'll more quickly make your commonplace books more valuable while still continuing on as you always have without skipping much a beat or attempting to convert over your entire system. Alternately you could do a paper notebook with a digital index too. I came across https://www.indxd.ink, a digital, web-based index tool for your analog notebooks. Ostensibly allows one to digitally index their paper notebooks (page numbers optional). It emails you weekly text updates, so you've got a back up of your data if the site/service disappears. This could potentially be used by those who have analog commonplace/zettelkasten practices, but want the digital search and some back up of their system.

    1. CPB vs Reading Notes .t3_14li1ri._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; } Does anyone separate their reading notes from their common place Notebook? I’ve always used a notebook to combine my Bullet Journal, reading notes, and Common Place. It’s been a mesh of words and I’ve been ok w that, but I just got the Remarkable 2 and I’m trying to figure out how to set it up. Any ideas?

      reply to u/Nil205 at https://www.reddit.com/r/commonplacebook/comments/14li1ri/cpb_vs_reading_notes/

      I have a similar and differently formed, but still simple system compared to most here. Rather than a traditional commonplace book, I keep all my notes on index cards. I keep all my reading notes for a particular book on a series of index cards that I staple together with a citation card for the book and then file them by author and title.

      When I'm done, I'll excerpt the most important parts each individual note (highlight/annotation) and expand on them on its own index card which I file away and index. In your case you might equivalently have a reading notebook where you might keep a section of notes as you read a book and then excerpt the most important or salient parts into your main commonplace. Some may prefer, especially if they own the book in question, to annotate (put their reading notes into) the book directly and then excerpt either as they go or at the end when they're done and can frame their ideas with a broader knowledge of the area in question. Sometimes at later dates you may realize you read something useful which you don't find in your commonplace book, but you can find the gist of it in your reading notes which you can reference, refresh your memory, and then excerpt into your commonplace.

      For more on my sort of card index or zettelkasten (German: slip box) practice you might take a look at one or more of the following which explain the broad generalities:

      If it's useful/inspiring as an example, Ross Ashby had a lifelong series of notebooks, much like a commonplace, and a separate card index where he cross-indexed all of his ideas to make them more easily searchable, findable, and cross referenceable. You can see digitized versions of the journals and index online which you can explore at http://www.rossashby.info/journal/index.html.

    1. reply to Bob Doto at https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/14lcb4z/using_diaries_and_journals_as_source_material_for/

      Ross Ashby kept his notes in notebooks/journals but he did cross-index them by topic using index cards. Rather than reference them by notebook (name/title/date) and page number, he kept a set of handwritten running page numbers across the entirety of his notebooks, so instead of Notebook 15 page 55, 1952 he'd simply write "3786" for page 3786. This can be seen on his index card for the indexed word "determinate" as an example.

      For other examples, see: http://www.rossashby.info/journal/index/index.html

      My own notebooks are usually titled by year and date spans along with page numbers, so I'll use those roughly as Bob describes. This has made it much easier to not need to move all my older notes into a card-based system, but still make them useable and referenceable.

      For those with more explicit journaling, diary, or other writing habits, Ralph Waldo Emmerson makes an interesting example of practice as he maintained at least two commonplace books (a poetry-specific one and a general one) as well as a large set of writing journals where he experimented with writing before later publishing his work. Since there are extant (digitized and published copies) and large bodies of scholarship around them, they make an interesting case study of how his process worked and how others might imitate it.

      On the diary front, of the historical examples I've seen floating around, only Roland Barthes had a significant practice of keeping his "diary" in index card form, a portion of which was published on October 12, 2010. Mourning Diary is a collection published for the first time from Roland Barthes' 330 index cards focusing on his mourning following the death of his mother in 1977.

      Not as extensive, Vladimir Nabokov recorded a "diary" of sixty-four dreams on 118 index cards beginning on October 14, 1964 as an experiment. He was following the instructions of John Dunne, a British philosopher, in An Experiment with Time. The results were published by Princeton University Press in Insomniac Dreams: Experiments with Time by Vladimir Nabokov which was edited by Gennady Barabtarlo.

      Presumably if one keeps a diary or journal in index card form in chronological order, they can simply reference it by date and either time or card X of Y, if there are multiple card entries for a single day. I keep a dated diary of sorts on index cards, though they rarely go past one card a day.

  9. Jun 2023
    1. According to Henderson, there are three steps to keeping a commonplace book:

      1) Read (Consume)

      "Commonplace books begin with observation."

      2) Capture (Write) Always also capture the source.

      3) Reflect Write own thoughts about the material. Synthesize, think.

      I'd personally use a digital commonplace book (hypothes.is), like Chris Aldrich explains, as my capture method and my Antinet Zettelkasten as my reflect methodology. This way the commonplace book fosters what Luhmann would call the thought rumination process.

    1. A commonplace book, according to Jared Henderson, is a way to not collect own thoughts (though sometimes it is) but rather to collect thoughts by others that you deem interesting.

    1. (1:21:20-1:39:40) Chris Aldrich describes his hypothes.is to Zettelkasten workflow. Prevents Collector's Fallacy, still allows to collect a lot. Open Bucket vs. Closed Bucket. Aldrich mentions he uses a common place book using hypothes.is which is where all his interesting highlights and annotations go to, unfiltered, but adequately tagged. This allows him to easily find his material whenever necessary in the future. These are digital. Then the best of the best material that he's interested in and works with (in a project or writing sense?) will go into his Zettelkasten and become fully fledged. This allows to maintain a high gold to mud (signal to noise) ratio for the Zettelkasten. In addition, Aldrich mentions that his ZK is more of his own thoughts and reflections whilst the commonplace book is more of other people's thoughts.

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

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

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

  10. May 2023
    1. unemployed diaries - ep. 01 - book haul, my commonplace notebook system

      found via Richard Carter

      Really nice example of someone using colour-coding and marginal notes/cross-references in a (paper) commonplace book. (My link skips the first 09:20 of the video, which comprises a book unboxing and notebook description.) #PKM<br /> cc. @chrisaldrich https://youtu.be/90gb7Eo8uMk?t=560

    1. Let us take down one of those old notebooks which we have all, at one time or another, had a passion for beginning. Most of the pages are blank, it is true; but at the beginning we shall find a certain number very beautifully covered with a strikingly legible hand-writing. Here we have written down the names of great writers in their order of merit; here we have copied out fine passages from the classics; here are lists of books to be read; and here, most interesting of all, lists of books that have actually been read, as the reader testifies with some youthful vanity by a dash of red ink. —“Hours in a Library”
  11. Apr 2023
    1. Compared to this structure that offers actualizable connection possibilities, the relevance of the actual content of the note subsides. Much of it quickly becomes useless or is unusable for a concrete occasion. That is true for both collected quotes, which are only worth collecting when they are exceptionally concise, and for your own thoughts.

      Luhmann felt that quotations aren't worth collecting unless they were "exceptionally concise, and for your own thoughts."

    2. A Zettelkasten that is constructed based on our instructions can achieve high independence. There may be other ways to achieve this goal. The described reduction to a fixed-placement (but merely formal) order, and the corresponding combination of order and disorder, is at least one of them.

      The structural components of Luhmann's zettelkasten which allow for "achieving high independence" are also the same structures found in an indexed commonplace book: namely fixed placement (formally by the order in which things are found and collected) as well as combinations of order and disorder (the methods by which they can be retrieved and read).

    3. Similarly, you must give up the assumption that there are privileged places, notes of special and knowledge-ensuring quality. Each note is just an element that gets its value from being a part of a network of references and cross-references in the system. A note that is not connected to this network will get lost in the Zettelkasten, and will be forgotten by the Zettelkasten.

      This section is almost exactly the same as Umberto Eco's description of a slip box practice:

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

      See: https://hypothes.is/a/jqug2tNlEeyg2JfEczmepw


      Interestingly, these structures map reasonably well onto Paul Baran's work from 1964: Paul Baran's graphs for Centralized, Decentralized, and Distributed systems

      The subject heading based filing system looks and functions a lot like a centralized system where the center (on a per topic basis) is the subject heading or topical category and the notes related to that section are filed within it. Luhmann's zettelkasten has the feel of a mixture of the decentralized and distributed graphs, but each sub-portion has its own topology. The index is decentralized in nature, while the bibliographical section/notes are all somewhat centralized in form.

      Cross reference:<br /> Baran, Paul. “On Distributed Communications: I. Introduction to Distributed Communications Networks.” Research Memoranda. Santa Monica, California: RAND Corporation, August 1964. https://doi.org/10.7249/RM3420.

  12. Mar 2023
    1. The ability to intentionally and strategically allocateour attention is a competitive advantage in a distracted world. Wehave to jealously guard it like a valuable treasure.

      It would seem that the word treasure here is being used to modify one's attention. Historically in books about "knowledge work" or commonplacing, the word was used with respect to one's storehouse of knowledge itself and not one's attention. Some of the effect is the result of the break in historical tradition being passed down from one generation to another. It's also an indication that the shift in value has moved not from what one knows or has, but that the attention itself is more valued now, even in a book about excerpting, thinking, and keeping knowledge!

      Oh how far we have fallen!

      It's also an indication of the extremes of information overload we're facing that the treasure is attention and not the small tidbits of knowledge and understanding we're able to glean from the massive volumes we face on a daily basis.

    1. Or, we canpicture ourselves collecting bones, breaking and roastingthem, and then boiling them for hours or days in a stockpot to release the nutritious and tasty marrow.

      We can imagine mining the information we encounter, following veins and seams underground, then smelting and refining the ore into useful metals. Occasionally we might come across gems that are nearly perfect when we discover them, perhaps needing only a bit of cutting and setting to reveal their beauty. But mostly the work involves patience and effort, as we go through the steps of finding, collecting, refining, and concentrating information from a raw material into exactly what we need for our structure

      I love these two new clever metaphors (mining and refining and cooking) for note taking for building knowledge. They're a welcome addition to the older and more classical metaphor of bees (Latin: apes) collecting pollen to make honey in the commonplace tradition.

    1. Oxford English Dictionary first attests 'commonplace' (from the Latin 'locus communis') asnoun in 1531 and a verb in 1656; 'excerpt' (from the Latin 'excerpere') as a verb in 1536 and anoun in 1656.

      The split between the ideas of commonplace book and zettelkasten may stem from the time period of the Anglicization of the first. If Gessner was just forming the tenets of a zettelkasten practice in 1548 and the name following(?) [what was the first use of zettelkasten?] while the word commonplace was entering English in 1531 using a book format, then the two traditions would likely have been splitting from that point forward in their different areas.

    1. At present I am using index cards as to index the books (and documents saved on the computer).

      u/zleonska in discussing their paper notebook commonplace practice reports that finding their material within multiple notebooks isn't difficult but that, like W. Ross Ashby, they use index cards to index their commonplaces.

    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJVHhwyx-Cg

      An overly complex method of commonplacing, though oddly with absolutely no mention of indexing of any sort.

      reply: <br /> If academia doesn't work out, then perhaps you could shill for "Big Notebook"? Seriously though, this is a pretty heavy/complex method of commonplacing. Do you index any/all of it somehow so you can find the pieces you know you've worked through in the past? A card index perhaps? John Locke's commonplacing method? I do something similar, but use slips or index cards the way Wittgenstein or Walter Benjamin did.... Perhaps one day I'll go more visual like https://www.denizcemonduygu.com/philo/browse/ ?

  13. Feb 2023
    1. Manfred Kuehn in Ronald Reagan's Notecards at 2015-01-25<br /> (accessed:: 2023-02-23 11:34:10)

      Kuehn felt that Ronald Regan's note taking "does not seem like a good system. In fact, it's hardly any system at all..."

    1. Beginner question .t3_112wup1._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; } I see that a lot of people have the main categories as natural sciences. Social sciences etcCan I switch it toReligionActivitiesFoodOrganizationMad weird thoughtsCommunication

      reply to u/Turbulent-Focus-1389 at https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/112wup1/beginner_question/

      I'd recommend you do your best to stay away from rigid category-like classifications and see what develops. For specifics see: https://boffosocko.com/2023/01/19/on-the-interdisciplinarity-of-zettelkasten-card-numbering-topical-headings-and-indices/

      If it's easier to conceptualize, think of it all like a map which may have place names, but also has numerical coordinates. Sometimes a specific name like Richard Macksey's house is useful, but other times thinking about a specific coordinate and the general neighborhoods around them will be far more useful in your community development plan. A religion-only neighborhood without religious activities, religious food, religious organization or communication will be a a sad one indeed. If you segregate your communities, they're likely not to be very happy places for co-mingling of ideas and the potential resultant creativity you'll get out of them.

      Bob Doto also suggests a similar philosophy in some of his work, particularly with respect to folgezettel: https://writing.bobdoto.computer/zettelkasten/

      I'll note that this is an incredibly hard thing to do at the start, but it's one which you may very well wish you had done from the beginning.

    1. Writers struggled with the fickle nature of the system. They often spent a great deal of time wading through Wordcraft's suggestions before finding anything interesting enough to be useful. Even when writers struck gold, it proved challenging to consistently reproduce the behavior. Not surprisingly, writers who had spent time studying the technical underpinnings of large language models or who had worked with them before were better able to get the tool to do what they wanted.

      Because one may need to spend an inordinate amount of time filtering through potentially bad suggestions of artificial intelligence, the time and energy spent keeping a commonplace book or zettelkasten may pay off magnificently in the long run.

    2. “...it can be very useful for coming up with ideas out of thin air, essentially. All you need is a little bit of seed text, maybe some notes on a story you've been thinking about or random bits of inspiration and you can hit a button that gives you nearly infinite story ideas.”- Eugenia Triantafyllou

      Eugenia Triantafyllou is talking about crutches for creativity and inspiration, but seems to miss the value of collecting interesting tidbits along the road of life that one can use later. Instead, the emphasis here becomes one of relying on an artificial intelligence doing it for you at the "hit of a button". If this is the case, then why not just let the artificial intelligence do all the work for you?

      This is the area where the cultural loss of mnemonics used in orality or even the simple commonplace book will make us easier prey for (over-)reliance on technology.


      Is serendipity really serendipity if it's programmed for you?

    1. Neben den Methoden herkömmlicher Recherche werden daher normalerweise Zettelkästen angelegt, in denen auf Karteikarten notiert ist, was ständig zitiert werden muss. Studenten erproben dies oft zum ersten mal intensiv für ihre Diplomarbeit. Nach Schlagworten und Autoren werden Notizen alphabetisch geordnet und was in den Kasten einsortiert wurde, kann man auch wieder herausholen.

      Google translate:

      In addition to the methods of conventional research, card boxes are usually created in which index cards are used to record what needs to be constantly quoted. Students often try this out intensively for their diploma thesis for the first time. Notes are sorted alphabetically according to keywords and authors, and what has been sorted into the box can also be taken out again.

      An indication from 2001 of the state of the art of zettelkasten written in German. Note that the description is focused more on the index card or slip-based version of a commonplace book sorted alphabetically by keywords and authors primarily for quoting. Most students trying the method for the first time are those working on graduate level theses.

    1. Categories mean determination of internal structure less flexibility, especially “in the long run“ of knowledgemanagement and storage

      The fact that Luhmann changed the structure of his zettelkasten with respect to the longer history of note taking and note accumulation allowed him several useful affordances.

      In older commonplacing and slip box methods, one would often store their notes by topic category or perhaps by project. This mean that after collection one had to do additional work of laying them out into some sort of outline to create arguments and then write them out for publication. This also meant that one was faced with the problem of multiple storage or copying out notes multiple times to file under various different subject headings.

      Luhmann overcame both of these problems by eliminating categories and placing ideas closest to their most relevant neighbor and numbering them in a branching fashion. Doing this front loads some of the thinking and outlining work which would often be done later, though it's likely easier to do when one has the fullest context of a note after they've made it when it is still freshest in their mind. It also means that each note is linked to at least one other note in the system. This helps notes from being lost and allows a simpler indexing structure whereby one only needs to use a few index entries to get close to the neighborhood of an idea as most other related ideas are likely to be nearby within a handful or more of index cards.

      Going from index to branches on the tree is relatively easy and also serves the function of reminding one of interesting prior reading and ideas as one either searches for specific notes or searches for placing future notes.

      When it comes to ultimately producing papers, one's notes already have a pre-arranged sort of outline which can then be more easily copied over for publication, though one can certainly still use other cross-links and further rearranging if one wishes.

      Older methods focused on broad accretion of materials into subject ordered piles while Luhmann's practice not only aggregated them, but slowly and assuredly grew them into more orderly trains of thought as he collected.

      Link to: The description in Technik des wissenschaftlichen Arbeitens (section 1.2 Die Kartei) at https://hypothes.is/a/-qiwyiNbEe2yPmPOIojH1g which heavily highlights all the downsides, though it doesn't frame them that way.

    1. With a category you can just bypass idea-connection and jump right to storage.

      Categorizing ideas (and or indexing them for search) can be useful for quick bulk storage, but the additional work of linking ideas to each other with in a Luhmann-esque zettelkasten can be more useful in the long term in developing ideas.

      Storage by category means that ideas aren't immediately developed explicitly, but it means that that work is pushed until some later time at which the connections must be made to turn them into longer works (articles, papers, essays, books, etc.)

  14. Jan 2023
    1. Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von. Maxims and Reflections. Penguin Classics. Penguin Books, 1998.

      urn:x-pdf:577d8c2ae537c748bc9ae3d1e12ecb38

    2. Goethe's Maxims and Reflections represents a commonplace book of sorts.

      Who numbered the maxims though? Was it Goethe or someone after him?

      (stray note on a slip of paper dated 2022-10-27)

    1. http://bactra.org/

      An interesting raw html-based website that also serves the functions of notebook and to some extent a digital commonplace.

      Cosma Shalizi is a professor in the statistics department at CMU.

    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPqjgN-pNDw


      When did the switch in commonplace book framing did the idea of "second brain" hit? (This may be the first time I've seen it personally. Does it appear in other places?) Sift through r/commonplace books to see if there are mentions there.


      By keeping one's commonplace in an analog form, it forces a greater level of intentionality because it's harder to excerpt material by hand. Doing this requires greater work than arbitrarily excerpting almost everything digitally. Manual provides a higher bar of value and edits out the lower value material.

    1. I accumulated altogether between 5.000 and 6.000 note cards from 1974 to 1985, most of which I still keep for sentimental reasons and sometimes actually still consult.

      Manfred Kuehn's index card commonplace from 1974 - 1985


      At 5 - 6,000 cards in 11 years from 1974 to 1985, Kuehn would have made somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.25 - 1.49 note per day.

    1. I've decided I don't care (too much) where new notes go .t3_10mjwq9._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; }

      reply to u/jackbaty at https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/10mjwq9/ive_decided_i_dont_care_too_much_where_new_notes/

      u/jackbaty, If it doesn't make sense for you (yet, or for your specific needs), you can always follow in the footsteps of the hundreds of thousands who used a topical subject heading method of the commonplace book before Luhmann's example shifted the space over the last decade. If it worked for Francis Bacon, you'll probably be alright too... (See: https://boffosocko.com/2022/06/10/reframing-and-simplifying-the-idea-of-how-to-keep-a-zettelkasten/)

      I find that sometimes, it is useful to bank up a few dozen cards before filing/linking them together. Other times I'll file them by category in a commonplace book like system to ruminate a bit only later to move them to a separate Luhmann-esque zettelkasten area where they're more tightly linked with the ideas around them. After you've been doing it a while, it will be easier to more tightly integrate the three-way conversation or argument you're having between yourself, your card index, and the sources you're thinking about (or reading, watching, listening to). You mention that "my brain needs at least some level of structure", and I totally get it, as most of us (myself included) are programmed to work that way. I've written some thoughts on this recently which may help provide some motivation to get you around it: https://boffosocko.com/2023/01/19/on-the-interdisciplinarity-of-zettelkasten-card-numbering-topical-headings-and-indices/

      It helps to have a pointed reason for why you're doing all this in the first place and that reason will dramatically help to shape your practice and its ultimate structure.

    1. Browsing through Walten’s notes also helped Jagersma to get to know the pamphleteer better, even though he is been dead for three hundred years. “The Memoriaelen say a lot about him. I could read how Walten did his research, follow his fascinations, and see the ideas for pieces he was not able to work out anymore. In a way, these two notebooks are a kind of self-portrait.”
    2. And the third category is for things that inspire me but that I don’t yet know exactly how to use. This category is actually the most interesting.”

      Many people collect notes that they're not sure what to do with or even where to put them. Neuroscience student and researcher Charlotte Fraza keeps her version of these notes in a category of "things that inspire me, but I don't yet know exactly how to use. She feels that compared to the other categories of actionable specific use and sources, this inspiration category is the most interesting to her.

    3. He also collected facts about all kinds of people, including his enemies. For example, he took note of any gossip about conservative ministers who disagreed with him. He recorded their visits to prostitutes in his Memoriaelen.
    4. In Walten’s two notebooks, referred to as Memoriaelen, Jagersma discovered a lot of details about the pamphleteer’s life. “These notebooks look a bit like the Moleskine notebooks that we know today,” says Jagersma, “but thicker, and bound in parchment.” In the more than five hundred pages, Walten collected all kinds of information. Jagersma lists the categories: “Personal anecdotes, philosophical and theological reflections, ideas, incursions, medical recipes, accounts of alchemical experiments, but also departure and arrival dates of the trekschuit (sail- or horse-drawn boat). The notebooks also contain lists of books he still wanted to read.”
    5. Delicate and precise, neatly arranged in alphabetical lemmas. I stumbled across the manuscripts in the Special Collections of the Leiden University Library, where they were listed in the inventory as ‘Adversaria of mixed content’. Without further explanation, except that their author was Jan Wagenaar. This eighteenth-century author was a household name in his time, writing about history, theology, and politics. Now here I was, looking at the notes he had used to write all those books, sermons, and pamphlets.The four leather-bound volumes contained pages and pages of lemmas on a variety of topics, from ‘concubines’ to ‘thatched roofs in the cities of Holland’. The lemmas included excerpts from a variety of texts, including snippets in French, English and Hebrew. This was how Wagenaar tried to organise his information flows, subsequently using this information to produce new texts.

      Jan Wagenaar's four leather-bound commonplace books are housed in the Special Collections of the Leiden University Library inventoried as "Adversaria of mixed content."

      They contain excerpts in French, English, and Hebrew and are arranged by topical heading.

    1. https://press.princeton.edu/series/ancient-wisdom-for-modern-readers

      This appears like Princeton University Press is publishing sections of someone's commonplace books as stand alone issues per heading where each chapter has a one or more selections (in the original language with new translations).

      This almost feels like a version of The Great Books of the Western World watered down for a modern audience?

    1. How do you maintain the interdisciplinarity of your zettlekasten? .t3_10f9tnk._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; }

      As humans we're good at separating things based on categories. The Dewey Decimal System systematically separates mathematics and history into disparate locations, but your zettelkasten shouldn't force this by overthinking categories. Perhaps the overlap of math and history is exactly the interdisciplinary topic you're working toward? If this is the case, just put cards into the slip box closest to their nearest related intellectual neighbor—and by this I mean nearest related to you, not to Melvil Dewey or anyone else. Over time, through growth and branching, ideas will fill in the interstitial spaces and neighboring ideas will slowly percolate and intermix. Your interests will slowly emerge into various bunches of cards in your box. Things you may have thought were important can separate away and end up on sparse branches while other areas flourish.

      If you make the (false) choice to separate math and history into different "sections" it will be much harder for them to grow and intertwine in an organic and truly disciplinary way. Universities have done this sort of separation for hundreds of years and as a result, their engineering faculty can be buildings or even entire campuses away from their medical faculty who now want to work together in new interdisciplinary ways. This creates a physical barrier to more efficient and productive innovation and creativity. It's your zettelkasten, so put those ideas right next to each other from the start so they can do the work of serendipity and surprise for you. Do not artificially separate your favorite ideas. Let them mix and mingle and see what comes out of them.

      If you feel the need to categorize and separate them in such a surgical fashion, then let your index be the place where this happens. This is what indices are for! Put the locations into the index to create the semantic separation. Math related material gets indexed under "M" and history under "H". Now those ideas can be mixed up in your box, but they're still findable. DO NOT USE OR CONSIDER YOUR NUMBERS AS TOPICAL HEADINGS!!! Don't make the fatal mistake of thinking this. The numbers are just that, numbers. They are there solely for you to be able to easily find the geographic location of individual cards quickly or perhaps recreate an order if you remove and mix a bunch for fun or (heaven forfend) accidentally tip your box out onto the floor. Each part has of the system has its job: the numbers allow you to find things where you expect them to be and the index does the work of tracking and separating topics if you need that.

      The broader zettelkasten, tools for thought, and creativity community does a terrible job of explaining the "why" portion of what is going on here with respect to Luhmann's set up. Your zettelkasten is a crucible of ideas placed in juxtaposition with each other. Traversing through them and allowing them to collide in interesting and random ways is part of what will create a pre-programmed serendipity, surprise, and combinatorial creativity for your ideas. They help you to become more fruitful, inventive, and creative.

      Broadly the same thing is happening with respect to the structure of commonplace books. There one needs to do more work of randomly reading through and revisiting portions to cause the work or serendipity and admixture, but the end results are roughly the same. With the zettelkasten, it's a bit easier for your favorite ideas to accumulate into one place (or neighborhood) for easier growth because you can move them around and juxtapose them as you add them rather than traversing from page 57 in one notebook to page 532 in another.

      If you use your numbers as topical or category headings you'll artificially create dreadful neighborhoods for your ideas to live in. You want a diversity of ideas mixing together to create new ideas. To get a sense of this visually, play the game Parable of the Polygons in which one categorizes and separates (or doesn't) triangles and squares. The game created by Vi Hart and Nicky Case based on the research of Thomas Schelling provides a solid example of the sort of statistical mechanics going on with ideas in your zettelkasten when they're categorized rigidly. If you rigidly categorize ideas and separate them, you'll drastically minimize the chance of creating the sort of useful serendipity of intermixed and innovative ideas.

      It's much harder to know what happens when you mix anthropology with complexity theory if they're in separate parts of your mental library, but if those are the things that get you going, then definitely put them right next to each other in your slip box. See what happens. If they're interesting and useful, they've got explicit numerical locators and are cross referenced in your index, so they're unlikely to get lost. Be experimental occasionally. Don't put that card on Henry David Thoreau in the section on writers, nature, or Concord, Massachusetts if those aren't interesting to you. Besides everyone has already done that. Instead put him next to your work on innovation and pencils because it's much easier to become a writer, philosopher, and intellectual when your family's successful pencil manufacturing business can pay for you to attend Harvard and your house is always full of writing instruments from a young age. Now you've got something interesting and creative. (And if you must, you can always link the card numerically to the other transcendentalists across the way.)

      In case they didn't hear it in the back, I'll shout it again: ACTIVELY WORK AGAINST YOUR NATURAL URGE TO USE YOUR ZETTELKASTEN NUMBERS AS TOPICAL HEADINGS!!!

    1. PeterSmith.Org is my commonplace book, covering teaching, research, technology, and whatever else takes my fancy. This site is in a constant state of development and 'becoming'.

      Peter Smith calls his website his commonplace book.

    1. to heaven. I see that if my facts were sufficiently vital and significant,—perhaps transmuted more into the substance of the human mind,—Ishould need but one book of poetry to contain them all.

      I have a commonplace-book for facts and another for poetry, but I find it difficult always to preserve the vague distinction which I had in my mind, for the most interesting and beautiful facts are so much the more poetry and that is their success. They are translated from earth

      —Henry David Thoreau February 18, 1852

      Rather than have two commonplaces, one for facts and one for poetry, if one can more carefully and successfully translate one's words and thoughts, they they might all be kept in the commonplace book of poetry.

    2. Finally, I should say that this abridgment does not claim to beobjective. I chose passages for inclusion not necessarily because oftheir importance to Thoreau’s biography, or to cultural or naturalhistory, but because I liked them: the book is shaped by my personalproclivities as much as by anything else—a preference for berryingover fishing, owls over muskrats, ice over sunsets, to name a few atrandom.

      Fascinating to think that Damion Searls edited this edition of Thoreau's journals almost as if they were his (Searls') own commonplace book of Thoreau's journals themselves.

      Very meta!

    3. Like any journal, Thoreau’s is repetitive, which suggests naturalplaces to shorten the text but these are precisely what need to be keptin order to preserve the feel of a journal, Thoreau’s in particular. Itrimmed many of Thoreau’s repetitions but kept them wheneverpossible, because they are important to Thoreau and because theyare beautiful. Sometimes he repeats himself because he is drafting,revising, constructing sentences solid enough to outlast the centuries.

      Henry David Thoreau repeated himself frequently in his journals. Damion Searls who edited an edition of his journals suggested that some of this repetition was for the beauty and pleasure of the act, but that in many examples his repetition was an act of drafting, revising, and constructing.


      Scott Scheper has recommended finding the place in one's zettelkasten where one wants to install a card before writing it out. I believe (check this) that he does this in part to prevent one from repeating themselves, but one could use the opportunity and the new context that brings them to an idea again to rewrite or rework and expand on their ideas while they're so inspired.


      Thoreau's repetition may have also served the idea of spaced repetition: reminding him of his thoughts as he also revised them. We'll need examples of this through his writing to support such a claim. As the editor of this volume indicates that he removed some of the repetition, it may be better to go back to original sources than to look for these examples here.

      (This last paragraph on repetition was inspired by attempting to type a tag for repetition and seeing "spaced repetition" pop up. This is an example in my own writing practice where the serendipity of a previously tagged word auto-populating/auto-completing in my interface helps to trigger new thoughts and ideas from a combinatorial creativity perspective.)

    4. Sometimes, Isuspect, he copied his own words because he liked to copy: no one’scommonplace books could run to a million words—those are just theones that survive, in addition to a two-million-word Journal, andenormous quantities of other writing—without a sheer love of sittingwith pen in hand, a printed book and a blank page both open before

      him.

    5. Jan. 22. To set down such choice experiences that my own writingsmay inspire me and at last I may make wholes of parts. Certainly it isa distinct profession to rescue from oblivion and to fix the sentimentsand thoughts which visit all men more or less generally, that thecontemplation of the unfinished picture may suggest its harmoniouscompletion. Associate reverently and as much as you can with yourloftiest thoughts. Each thought that is welcomed and recorded is anest egg, by the side of which more will be laid. Thoughts accidentallythrown together become a frame in which more may be developedand exhibited. Perhaps this is the main value of a habit of writing, ofkeeping a journal,—that so we remember our best hours and stimulateourselves. My thoughts are my company. They have a certainindividuality and separate existence, aye, personality. Having bychance recorded a few disconnected thoughts and then brought theminto juxtaposition, they suggest a whole new field in which it waspossible to labor and to think. Thought begat thought.

      !!!!

      Henry David Thoreau from 1852

    1. May 19, 2004 #1 Hello everyone here at the forum. I want to thank everyone here for all of the helpful and informative advice on GTD. I am a beginner in the field of GTD and wish to give back some of what I have received. What is posted below is not much of tips-and-tricks I found it very helpful in understanding GTD. The paragraphs posted below are from the book Lila, by Robert Pirsig. Some of you may have read the book and some may have not. It’s an outstanding read on philosophy. Robert Pirsig wrote his philosophy using what David Allen does, basically getting everything out of his head. I found Robert Pirsigs writing on it fascinating and it gave me a wider perspective in using GTD. I hope you all enjoy it, and by all means check out the book, Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals. Thanks everyone. arthur

      Arthur introduces the topic of Robert Pirsig and slips into the GTD conversation on 2004-05-19.

      Was this a precursor link to the Pile of Index Cards in 2006?

      Note that there doesn't seem to be any discussion of any of the methods with respect to direct knowledge management until the very end in which arthur returns almost four months later to describe a 4 x 6" card index with various topics he's using for filing away his knowledge on cards. He's essentially recreated the index card based commonplace book suggested by Robert Pirsig in Lila.

    1. Ryan Randall @ryanrandall@hcommons.socialEarnest but still solidifying #pkm take:The ever-rising popularity of personal knowledge management tools indexes the need for liberal arts approaches. Particularly, but not exclusively, in STEM education.When people widely reinvent the concept/practice of commonplace books without building on centuries of prior knowledge (currently institutionalized in fields like library & information studies, English, rhetoric & composition, or media & communication studies), that's not "innovation."Instead, we're seeing some unfortunate combination of lost knowledge, missed opportunities, and capitalism selectively forgetting in order to manufacture a market.

      https://hcommons.social/@ryanrandall/109677171177320098

    1. Many of the topic cards served as the skeleton for Mediterranean Society and can be usedto study how Goitein constructed his magnum opus. To give just one example, in roll 26 wehave the index cards for Mediterranean Society, chap. 3, B, 1, “Friendship” and “InformalCooperation” (slides 375–99, drawer 24 [7D], 431–51), B, 2, “Partnership and Commenda”(slides 400–451, cards 452–83), and so forth.

      Cards from the topically arranged index cards in Goitein's sub-collection of 20,000 served as the skeleton of his magnum opus Mediterranean Society.

    2. Goitein’s index cards can be divided into two general types: those thatfocus on a specific topic (children, clothing, family, food, weather, etc.) andthose that serve as research tools for the study of the Geniza. 48
    3. It is, however, important to keep in mind that, reflecting the trajectory ofGoitein’s study of the Geniza, there are often two sets of cards for a givensubject, one general and one related to the India Book.44

      Goitein, “Involvement in Geniza Research,” 144.

      Goitein's cards are segmented into two sets: one for subjects and one related to the India Book.

  15. Dec 2022
    1. I’m a screenwriter. One of the reasons I use Obsidian is the ability to hashtag. It sounds so simple, but being able to tag notes with #theme or #sceneideas helps create linkages between notes that would not otherwise be linked. My ZK literally tells me what the movie is really about.

      via u/The_Bee_Sneeze

      Example of someone using Obsidian with a zettelkasten focus to write screenplays.

      Thought the example appears in r/Zettelkasten, one must wonder at how Luhmann-esque such a practice really appears?

    1. I'm a multi-media artist, so I have many ideas about fashion pieces, artworks, music, etc. that i'd want to make. Would I plug in these ideas as 'fleeting notes' until they're more cemented? would you recommend I keep separate my 'original' ideas and the ZK note-taking system?

      I gave some examples of uses in arts/media a while back that you might find interesting for your use case: https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/xdrb0k/comment/iofo5vv/?utm_source=reddit&utm_medium=web2x&context=3

      In particular, a more commonplace book approach or something along the lines of Chapter 6 of Twyla Tharpe's book may be more useful or productive for your use case.

    1. “The florilegium was a type of ‘double memory’ towhich scholars could resort anytime their personal memory failed, the filingcabinet behaves as a true communication partner with its own idiosyncrasiesand its own opinions.”31

      I'll have to look into this argument as it feels dramatically false to me.

      The only way I can see this is if one only uses their commonplace for excerpts and no other notes, a pattern which may have been the case for some, but certainly not all.

    2. Yet, there are shortcomings of commonplace books. They embody that of a“subsidiary memory,” whereas the Antinet is more than this. The Antinet isa second mind, an equal.

      Why though? The slight difference in form doesn't account for any differences claimed here.

    3. The limitations of commonplacebooks centers around the following: they only enable short-term knowledgedevelopment. They do not cater to allowing thoughts to evolve over time,infinitely. They do not allow for the infinite internal branching and expansionof ideas.

      sigh

      This is untrue in practice. They can evolve, they just do so in different ways. Prior to Luhmann's example, they have done so for centuries.

    1. Presumed to have been written in the fifth century Stobaeus compiled an extensive two volume manuscript commonly known as The Anthologies of excerpts containing 1,430 poetry and prose quotations of works of which only 315 are still extant in the 21st century.[10]

      footnote: Moller, Violet (2019). The Map of Knowledge (1st ed.). Doubleday. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-385-54176-3.

      I wrote this snippet yesterday.

    1. Goitein accumulated more than 27,000 index cards in his research work over the span of 35 years. (Approximately 2.1 cards per day.)

      His collection can broadly be broken up into two broad categories: 1. Approximately 20,000 cards are notes covering individual topics generally making of the form of a commonplace book using index cards rather than books or notebooks. 2. Over 7,000 cards which contain descriptions of a single fragment from the Cairo Geniza.

      A large number of cards in the commonplace book section were used in the production of his magnum opus, a six volume series about aspects of Jewish life in the Middle Ages, which were published as A Mediterranean Society: The Jewish communities of the Arab World as Portrayed in the Documents of the Cairo Geniza (1967–1993).

    1. In the latefifth century, a man called Stobaeus compiled a huge anthology of1,430 poetry and prose quotations. Just 315 of them are from worksthat still exist—the rest are lost.
    1. Three editions were published by Conrad Gessner (Zurich, 1543; Basle, 1549; Zurich; 1559),

      Konrad Gessner published three editions of Stobaeus' Anthology (Zurich, 1543; Basel, 1549; and Zurich, 1559).

      He would thus have had this as an example of a compilation of excerpts at his disposal and as an example for his own excerpting work.

    1. On my own website(s) I'm looking to write more content and share more of my experiences. I'm at a time in my life that documenting what is going on so I can recall things easier would be helpful, a place to publicly share my notes in hopes that it will help someone else.

      Hints of personal website as commonplace book.

  16. Nov 2022
    1. I believe Victor Margolin when he says that he developed his own system. That's what I did in the years before people started widely discussing personal knowledge systems online. Nobody taught me how to do it when I was in college. @chrisaldrich repeatedly tries to connect everyone's knowledge practices to an ongoing tradition that stretches back to commonplace books, but he overstates it. There is such a thing as independent development of a personal knowledge system. I know it because I've lived it. It's not so difficult that it requires extraordinary genius.

      Reply to Andy https://forum.zettelkasten.de/discussion/comment/16865#Comment_16865

      Andy, I'll take you at your word. You're right that none of it requires extraordinary genius--though many who seem to exhibit extraordinary genius do have variations of these practices in their lives, and the largest proportion of them either read about them or were explicitly taught them.

      With these patterns and practices being so deeply rooted in our educational systems for so long (not to mention the heavy influences of our orality and evolved thinking apparatus even prior to literacy), it's a bit difficult for many to truly guarantee that they've done these things independently without heavy cultural and societal influence. As a result, it's not a far stretch for people to evolve their own practices to what works for them and then think that they've invented something new. The common person may not be aware of the old ideas of scala naturae or scholasticism, but they certainly feel them in their daily lives. Commonplacing is not much different.

      By analogy, Elon Musk might say he created the Tesla, but it's a far bigger stretch for him to say that he invented a new means of transportation, or a car, or the wheel when we know he's swimming in a culture rife with these items. Humans are historically far better at imitation than innovation. If people truly independently developed systems like these so many times, then in the evolutionary record of these practices we should expect to see more diversity than we do in practice. We might expect to see more innovation than just the plain vanilla adjacent possible. Given Margolin's age, time period, educational background, and areas of expertise, there is statistically very little chance that he hadn't seen or talked about versions of this practice with several dozens of his peers through his lifetime after which he took that tacit knowledge and created his own explicit version which worked for him.

      Historian Keith Thomas talks about some of these traditions which he absorbed himself without having read some of the common advice (see London Review of Books https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v32/n11/keith-thomas/diary). He also indicates that he slowly evolved to some of the often advised practices like writing only on one side of a slip, though, like many, he completely omits to state the reason why this is good advice. We can all ignore these rich histories, but we'll probably do so at our own peril and at the expense of wasting some of our time to re-evolve the benefits.

      Why are so many here (and in other fora on these topics) showing up regularly to read and talk about their experiences? They're trying to glean some wisdom from the crowds of experimenters to make improvements. In addition to the slow wait for realtime results, I've "cheated" a lot and looked at a much richer historical record of wins and losses to gain more context of our shared intellectual history. I'm reminded of one of Goethe's aphorisms from Maxims and Reflections "Inexperienced people raise questions which were answered by the wise thousands of years ago."

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

    1. Inevitably, I read and highlight more articles than I have time to fully process in Obsidian. There are currently 483 files in the Readwise/Articles folder and 527 files marked as needing to be processed. I have, depending on how you count, between 3 and 5 jobs right now. I am not going to neatly format all of those files. I am going to focus on the important ones, when I have time.

      I suspect that this example of Eleanor Konik's is incredibly common among note takers. They may have vast repositories of collected material which they can reference or use, but typically don't.

      In digital contexts it's probably much more common that one will have a larger commonplace book-style collection of notes (either in folders or with tags), and a smaller subsection of more highly processed notes (a la Luhmann's practice perhaps) which are more tightly worked and interlinked.

      To a great extent this mirrors much of my own practice as well.

    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.