- Feb 2023
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Muchrecent scholarship on card indexes and factuality falls into one of two modes: first,scholars have excavated early modern indexes, catalogues, and the pursuit of ‘facts’to demonstrate information overload prior to the contemporary ‘information age’ as wellas the premodern attempts to counteract the firehose of books and other information(Blair, 2010; Krajewski, 2011; Mu ̈ ller-Wille and Scharf, 2009; Poovey, 1998;
Zedelmaier, 1992). All the same, a range of figures have tracked and critiqued the trajectory of the ‘noble dream’ of historical and scientific ‘objectivity’ (Appleby, Hunt and Jacob, 1994: 241-70; Daston and Galison, 2007; Novick, 1988).
Lustig categorizes scholarship on card indexes into two modes: understanding of information overload tools and the "trajectory of the 'noble dream' of historical and scientific 'objectivity'".
one finds in Deutsch’s catalogue one implementation of what LorraineDaston would later term ‘mechanical objectivity’, an ideal of removing the scholar’s selffrom the process of research and especially historical and scientific representation (Das-ton and Galison, 2007: 115-90).
In contrast to the sort of mixing of personal life and professional life suggested by C. Wright Mills' On Intellectual Craftsmanship (1952), a half century earlier Gotthard Deutsch's zettelkasten method showed what Lorraine Datson would term 'mechanical objectivity'. This is an interesting shift in philosophical perspective of note taking practice. It can also be compared and contrasted with a 21st century perspective of "personal" knowledge management.