- Jul 2022
It’s so much easier to see what worked than to predictwhat might work. Sönke Ahrens
This is similar to the IndieWeb and web standards ideas of looking back at history to see the actual patterns of work that were beneficial.
Link to: - https://hypothes.is/a/HhAj3r1bEeyw9h_Pa4QNrA
- Jun 2022
Local file Local file
If we overlay the four steps of CODE onto the model ofdivergence and convergence, we arrive at a powerful template forthe creative process in our time.
The way that Tiago Forte overlaps the idea of C.O.D.E. (capture/collect, organize, distill, express) with the divergence/convergence model points out some primary differences of his system and that of some of the more refined methods of maintaining a zettelkasten.
Forte's focus on organizing is dedicated solely on to putting things into folders, which is a light touch way of indexing them. However it only indexes them on one axis—that of the folder into which they're being placed. This precludes them from being indexed on a variety of other axes from the start to other places where they might also be used in the future. His method requires more additional work and effort to revisit and re-arrange (move them into other folders) or index them later.
Most historical commonplacing and zettelkasten techniques place a heavier emphasis on indexing pieces as they're collected.
Commonplacing creates more work on the user between organizing and distilling because they're more dependent on their memory of the user or depending on the regular re-reading and revisiting of pieces one may have a memory of existence. Most commonplacing methods (particularly the older historic forms of collecting and excerpting sententiae) also doesn't focus or rely on one writing out their own ideas in larger form as one goes along, so generally here there is a larger amount of work at the expression stage.
Zettelkasten techniques as imagined by Luhmann and Ahrens smooth the process between organization and distillation by creating tacit links between ideas. This additional piece of the process makes distillation far easier because the linking work has been done along the way, so one only need edit out ideas that don't add to the overall argument or piece. All that remains is light editing.
Ahrens' instantiation of the method also focuses on writing out and summarizing other's ideas in one's own words for later convenient reuse. This idea is also seen in Bruce Ballenger's The Curious Researcher as a means of both sensemaking and reuse, though none of the organizational indexing or idea linking seem to be found there.
This also fits into the diamond shape that Forte provides as the height along the vertical can stand in as a proxy for the equivalent amount of work that is required during the overall process.
This shape could be reframed for a refined zettelkasten method as an indication of work
Forte's diamond shape provided gives a visual representation of the overall process of the divergence and convergence.
But what if we change that shape to indicate the amount of work that is required along the steps of the process?!
Here, we might expect the diamond to relatively accurately reflect the amounts of work along the path.
If this is the case, then what might the relative workload look like for a refined zettelkasten? First we'll need to move the express portion between capture and organize where it more naturally sits, at least in Ahren's instantiation of the method. While this does take a discrete small amount of work and time for the note taker, it pays off in the long run as one intends from the start to reuse this work. It also pays further dividends as it dramatically increases one's understanding of the material that is being collected, particularly when conjoined to the organization portion which actively links this knowledge into one's broader world view based on their notes. For the moment, we'll neglect the benefits of comparison of conjoined ideas which may reveal flaws in our thinking and reasoning or the benefits of new questions and ideas which may arise from this juxtaposition.
This sketch could be refined a bit, but overall it shows that frontloading the work has the effect of dramatically increasing the efficiency and productivity for a particular piece of work.
Note that when compounded over a lifetime's work, this diagram also neglects the productivity increase over being able to revisit old work and re-using it for multiple different types of work or projects where there is potential overlap, not to mention the combinatorial possibilities.
It could be useful to better and more carefully plot out the amounts of time, work/effort for these methods (based on practical experience) and then regraph the resulting power inputs against each other to come up with a better picture of the efficiency gains.
Is some of the reason that people are against zettelkasten methods that they don't see the immediate gains in return for the upfront work, and thus abandon the process? Is this a form of misinterpreted-effort hypothesis at work? It can also be compounded at not being able to see the compounding effects of the upfront work.
What does research indicate about how people are able to predict compounding effects over time in areas like money/finance? What might this indicate here? Humans definitely have issues seeing and reacting to probabilities in this same manner, so one might expect the same intellectual blindness based on system 1 vs. system 2.
Given that indexing things, especially digitally, requires so little work and effort upfront, it should be done at the time of collection.
I'll admit that it only took a moment to read this highlighted sentence and look at the related diagram, but the amount of material I was able to draw out of it by reframing it, thinking about it, having my own thoughts and ideas against it, and then innovating based upon it was incredibly fruitful in terms of better differentiating amongst a variety of note taking and sense making frameworks.
For me, this is a great example of what reading with a pen in hand, rephrasing, extending, and linking to other ideas can accomplish.
As powerful and necessary as divergence is, if all we ever do isdiverge, then we never arrive anywhere.
Tiago Forte frames the creative process in the framing of divergence (brainstorming) and convergence (connecting ideas, editing, refining) which emerged out of the Stanford Design School and popularized by IDEO in the 1980s and 1990s.
But this is just what the more refined practices of maintaining a zettelkasten entail. It's the creation of profligate divergence forced by promiscuously following one's interests and collecting ideas along the way interspersed with active and pointed connection of ideas slowly creating convergence of these ideas over time. The ultimate act of creation finally becomes simple as pulling one's favorite idea of many out of the box (along with all the things connected to it) and editing out any unnecessary pieces and then smoothing the whole into something cohesive.
This is far less taxing than sculpting marble where one needs to start with an idea of where one is going and then needs the actual skill to get there. Doing this well requires thousands of hours of practice at the skill, working with smaller models, and eventually (hopefully) arriving at art. It's much easier if one has the broad shapes of the entirety of Rodin, Michelangelo, and Donatello's works in their repository and they can simply pull out one that feels interesting and polish it up a bit. Some of the time necessary for work and practice are still there, but the ultimate results are closer to guaranteed art in one domain than the other.
Commonplacing or slipboxing allows us to take the ability to imitate, which humans are exceptionally good at (Annie Murphy Paul, link tk), and combine those imitations in a way to actively explore and then create new innovative ideas.
Commonplacing can be thought of as lifelong and consistent practice of brainstorming where one captures all the ideas for later use.
Link to - practice makes perfect
This standardized routine is known as the creative process, and itoperates according to timeless principles that can be foundthroughout history.
If the creative process has timeless principles found throughout history, why aren't they written down and practiced religiously withing our culture that is so enamored of creativity and innovation?
As an example of how this isn't true, we've managed to lose our commonplace tradition and haven't really replaced it with anything useful. Even the evolved practice of the zettelkasten has been created and generally discarded (pun intended) without replacement.
How much of our creative process is reliant on simple imitation, which is a basic human trait? It's typically more often that imitation juxtaposed with other experiences which is the crucible of innovation. How often, if ever, is true innovation in an entirely different domain created? By this I mean innovation outside of the adjacent possible domains from which it stems? Are there any examples of this?
Even my own note taking practice is a mélange of broad imitation of what I read combined with the combinatorial juxtaposition of other ideas in an attempt to create new ideas.
Tags can overcomethis limitation by infusing your Second Brain with connections,making it easier to see cross-disciplinary themes and patterns thatdefy simple categorization.
Forte frames things primarily from a digital perspective so he talks about folders and tags, but seems to wholly forget the grand power of having an subject index. While they're broadly the same, it's as if he's forgoing two thousand years of rhetorical tradition to have something that seems new and innovative, but which are paths that are incredibly well travelled.
Our creativity thrives on examples
This pulls into question our zeal for innovation. Most thought is created and honed against other pre-existing thought.
Some of the fun of note taking is not only rewriting an idea in one's own words for potential understanding, but expanding upon it to extend the ideas, sometimes based on our pre-existing world view and knowledge. The rest is linking this idea into place with our other knowledge and then combining an permuting it with that knowledge to create new knowledge.
This seems to be a building block of the broader idea of "combinatorial creativity".
link to: - Annie Murphy Paul's contention that imitation > innovation - Lee Vinsel's The Innovation Delusion: How Our Obsession with the New Has Disrupted the Work That Matters Most
can imitation lead to innovation?
innovation is the use of combinatorial creativity to make new things... rarely, if ever?, is true innovation made from whole cloth, there is always(?) something used as a base which is extended.
- imitation > innovation
- topical headings
- commonplace books vs. zettelkasten
- misinterpreted-effort hypothesis
- cognitive bias
- putting in the work
- Tiago Forte
- writing for understanding
- compounding value
- combinatorial creativity
- Auguste Rodin
- behavioral economics
- imitation for innovation
- art of imitation
- subject headings
- adjacent possible
- commonplace books
- knowledge work
Tiago is a true pioneer and innovator of our time!
What here is exactly innovative? He's talking about a centuries old idea.
He's just giving you something slightly updated to imitate.
The Innovation Delusion: How Our Obsession with the New Has Disrupted the Work That Matters Most
How does this fit into the broad idea of imitation >> innovation from Annie Murphy Paul?
- Apr 2022
It is always about the new The frontpage of any content-driven media is often geared towards the latest happenings. But what if there are old gems hidden beyond? A new user wouldn’t be able to discover them.
Older content may broadly be considered more valuable than newer content. The fact that it has been "tried and true" gives it enormously more value than newer and untested content.
Newer content is primarily valuable solely because it is new. How much of it will live on to become old content without falling off of the long tail of the value distribution?
Link this to the idea of imitation > innovation in Annie Murphy Paul's book The Extended Mind.
Link this to the fact that NASA uses 30+ year old software and systems in their outer-space program because all the glitches and bugs have been found and it's far more reliable.
Finding the older gems has generally been the sort of driving idea behind @peterhagen and his https://lindylearn.io/ site -- particularly his Hacker News tool.
Humans’ tendency to“overimitate”—to reproduce even the gratuitous elements of another’s behavior—may operate on a copy now, understand later basis. After all, there might begood reasons for such steps that the novice does not yet grasp, especially sinceso many human tools and practices are “cognitively opaque”: not self-explanatory on their face. Even if there doesn’t turn out to be a functionalrationale for the actions taken, imitating the customs of one’s culture is a smartmove for a highly social species like our own.
Is this responsible for some of the "group think" seen in the Republican party and the political right? Imitation of bad or counter-intuitive actions outweights scientifically proven better actions? Examples: anti-vaxxers and coronavirus no-masker behaviors? (Some of this may also be about or even entangled with George Lakoff's (?) tribal identity theories relating to "people like me".
Explore this area more deeply.
Another contributing factor for this effect may be the small-town effect as most Republican party members are in the countryside (as opposed to the larger cities which tend to be more Democratic). City dwellers are more likely to be more insular in their interpersonal relations whereas country dwellers may have more social ties to other people and groups and therefor make them more tribal in their social interrelationships. Can I find data to back up this claim?
How does link to the thesis put forward by Joseph Henrich in The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous? Does Henrich have data about city dwellers to back up my claim above?
What does this tension have to do with the increasing (and potentially evolutionary) propensity of humans to live in ever-increasingly larger and more dense cities versus maintaining their smaller historic numbers prior to the pre-agricultural timeperiod?
What are the biological effects on human evolution as a result of these cultural pressures? Certainly our cultural evolution is effecting our biological evolution?
What about the effects of communication media on our cultural and biological evolution? Memes, orality versus literacy, film, radio, television, etc.? Can we tease out these effects within the socio-politico-cultural sphere on the greater span of humanity? Can we find breaks, signs, or symptoms at the border of mass agriculture?
total aside, though related to evolution: link hypercycles to evolution spirals?
Gerard Tellis and Peter Golder, both professors of marketing, conducted ahistorical analysis of fifty consumer product categories (including diapers, fromwhich the Pampers versus Chux example was taken). Their results showed thatthe failure rate of “market pioneers” is an alarming 47 percent, while the meanmarket share they capture is only 10 percent. Far better than being first, Tellisand Golder concluded, is being what some have called a “fast second”: an agileimitator. Companies that capitalize on others’ innovations have “a minimalfailure rate” and “an average market share almost three times that of marketpioneers,” they found. In this category they include Timex, Gillette, and Ford,firms that are often recalled—wrongly—as being first in their field.
Under the Romantics’ influence, imitation did not merely become less favoredthan previously. It came to be actively disdained and disparaged—an attitudethat was carried forward into succeeding decades. The naturalists of the latenineteenth century described imitation as the habit of children, women, and“savages,” and held up original expression as the preserve of European men.Innovation climbed to the top of the cultural value system, while imitation sankto an unaccustomed low.
The third advantage of imitation: copiers can evade mistakes by steering clearof the errors made by others who went before them, while innovators have nosuch guide to potential pitfalls.
by copying others, imitators allow other individuals to act asfilters, efficiently sorting through available options.
As for which strategy worked best, there was really no contest: copying wasfar and away the most successful approach. The winning entry exclusivelycopied others—it never innovated. By comparison, a player-bot whose strategyrelied almost entirely on innovation finished ninety-fifth out of the one hundredcontestants.
Kevin N. Laland, Darwin’s Unfinished Symphony: How Culture Made the Human Mind (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017), 50.
- city vs. town
- urban vs. rural
- imitation > innovation
- want to read
- spatial relationships
- comparative anthropology
- market pioneers
- fast second
- group think
- follow the herd
- Joseph Henrich
- human evolution
- evolution spirals
- Big History