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

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

      link: Ahrens mentions this

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

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

      Check these references

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Commonplace book practitioners are also welcome.

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

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

      card file as art!

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    2. In the February, 1917, number of the English Journal there warticle on "The English Teacher's
    1. Sutherland, Lois Gilbert. “The English Teacher’s Card File.” The English Journal 6, no. 2 (1917): 111–12. https://doi.org/10.2307/801508.


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

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

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

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

    1. Breitenbach, H. P. “The Card Index for Teachers.” The School Review 20, no. 4 (1912): 271–72.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      (p3, Introduction)

    1. Portion of a hand-written card file listing manuscripts, documents, and portraits contained in the Boston Public Library's Chamberlain Collection of Autographs. Cards are organized by last name of the creator or subject. Names of persons who have signed documents are also listed.
    1. In "On Intellectual Craftsmanship" (1952), C. Wright Mills talks about his methods for note taking, thinking, and analysis in what he calls "sociological imagination". This is a sociologists' framing of their own research and analysis practice and thus bears a sociological related name. While he talks more about the thinking, outlining, and writing process rather than the mechanical portion of how he takes notes or what he uses, he's extending significantly on the ideas and methods that Sönke Ahrens describes in How to Take Smart Notes (2017), though obviously he's doing it 65 years earlier. It would seem obvious that the specific methods (using either files, note cards, notebooks, etc.) were a bit more commonplace for his time and context, so he spent more of his time on the finer and tougher portions of the note making and thinking processes which are often the more difficult parts once one is past the "easy" mechanics.

      While Mills doesn't delineate the steps or materials of his method of note taking the way Beatrice Webb, Langlois & Seignobos, Johannes Erich Heyde, Antonin Sertillanges, or many others have done before or Umberto Eco, Robert Greene/Ryan Holiday, Sönke Ahrens, or Dan Allosso since, he does focus more on the softer portions of his thinking methods and their desired outcomes and provides personal examples of how it works and what his expected outcomes are. Much like Niklas Luhmann describes in Kommunikation mit Zettelkästen (VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 1981), Mills is focusing on the thinking processes and outcomes, but in a more accessible way and with some additional depth.

      Because the paper is rather short, but specific in its ideas and methods, those who finish the broad strokes of Ahrens' book and methods and find themselves somewhat confused will more than profit from the discussion here in Mills. Those looking for a stronger "crash course" might find that the first seven chapters of Allosso along with this discussion in Mills is a straighter and shorter path.

      While Mills doesn't delineate his specific method in terms of physical tools, he does broadly refer to "files" which can be thought of as a zettelkasten (slip box) or card index traditions. Scant evidence in the piece indicates that he's talking about physical file folders and sheets of paper rather than slips or index cards, but this is generally irrelevant to the broader process of thinking or writing. Once can easily replace the instances of the English word "file" with the German concept of zettelkasten and not be confused.

      One will note that this paper was written as a manuscript in April 1952 and was later distributed for classroom use in 1955, meaning that some of these methods were being distributed from professor to students. The piece was later revised and included as an appendix to Mill's text The Sociological Imagination which was first published in 1959.

      Because there aren't specifics about Mills' note structure indicated here, we can't determine if his system was like that of Niklas Luhmann, but given the historical record one could suppose that it was closer to the commonplace tradition using slips or sheets. One thing becomes more clear however that between the popularity of Webb's work and this (which was reprinted in 2000 with a 40th anniversary edition), these methods were widespread in the mid-twentieth century and specifically in the field of sociology.

      Above and beyond most of these sorts of treatises on note taking method, Mills does spend more time on the thinking portions of the practice and delineates eleven different practices that one can focus on as they actively read/think and take notes as well as afterwards for creating content or writing.


      My full notes on the article can be found at https://jonudell.info/h/facet/?user=chrisaldrich&max=100&exactTagSearch=true&expanded=true&addQuoteContext=true&url=urn%3Ax-pdf%3A0138200b4bfcde2757a137d61cd65cb8

    2. I am trying, you see, to build aframework containing all the key elements which enterinto the work; then to put each section in separate fbldersand continually readjust the whole framework aroundchanges in them.

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

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

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


      Are there any other surfaces we're missing?

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

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

    5. Use of File

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

      What is this??

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    1. 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.


      Revisit this for some pull quotes and fine details of his method.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Screen capture from the movie

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

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

      Lots of sexism in this episode...

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

      What size index cards did Vladimir Nabokov use?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

      syndication link


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

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

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

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

      Moreover

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

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

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

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

    2. Bibliographical Index Card File

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

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

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

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

    1. Card Storage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

      https://hypothes.is/a/CqGhGvchEey6heekrEJ9WA


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      There are obviously lots of unanswered questions...

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

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

    1. Glad you liked it. That's an example of the "let's let the zettelkasten direct my writing" approach. This is different than the "I have something I'm working on. Let's see if there's anything in the zettelkasten to support/refute it" approach, which I also do. So, I might call one "directive," and the other "supportive." (Although, I'm just making that up).

      Different modes/approaches to writing when using a zettelkasten:<br /> - directive: let the zettelkasten direct the writing project - supportive: one has a particular writing project in mind and uses their zettelkasten collection to support their thinking and writing for that.

      Are there other potential methods in addition to these two?

    2. Hit me up. Happy to show my zettel-based writing, and how my notes translate into published content, both short- and long-form.

      Thanks u/taurusnoises, your spectacular recent video "Using the Zettelkasten (and Obsidian) to Write an Essay https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OUn2-h6oVc is about as close to the sort of public example of output creation I had been looking for!

      I'm sure that there are other methods and workflows out there which vary by person, method, and modality (analog/digital) and it would be interesting to see what those practices look like as examples for others to use, follow, and potentially improve upon.

      I particularly appreciate that your visual starting perspective of the graph view in Obsidian fairly closely mimics what an analog zettelkasten user might be doing and seeing within that modality.

      I'm still collecting extant examples and doing some related research, but perhaps I'll have some time later in the year to do some interviews with particular people about how they're actively doing this as you suggested.

      On a tangential note, I'm also piqued by some of the specific ideas you mention in your notes in the video as they relate to some work on orality and memory I've been exploring over the past several years. If you do finish that essay, I'd love to read the finished piece.

      Thanks again for this video!

    1. For the sake of simplicity, go to Graph Analysis Settings and disable everything but Co-Citations, Jaccard, Adamic Adar, and Label Propogation. I won't spend my time explaining each because you can find those in the net, but these are essentially algorithms that find connections for you. Co-Citations, for example, uses second order links or links of links, which could generate ideas or help you create indexes. It essentially automates looking through the backlinks and local graphs as it generates possible relations for you.
    2. <small><cite class='h-cite via'> <span class='p-author h-card'>u/taurusnoises</span> in One of the ways I use my zettelkasten (though Obsidian) to write essays : Zettelkasten (<time class='dt-published'>08/10/2022 12:28:58</time>)</cite></small>

    1. I have a notifications on the German equivalent to craigslist on Karteikasten, Karteikartenschrank, Karteischrank, Apothekenschrank and the like in a 50km radius around here. Hope one day something comes up that is reasonable priced and small enough to fit the trunk of our little electric car :-)

      https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/wjvoqq/if_youre_going_to_cast_some_zettels_you_may_as/

      A list of German words and English equivalents for index card related containers and furniture

      Karteikasten - index box<br /> Karteikartenschrank - index card cabinet<br /> Karteischrank - filing cabinet Apothekenschrank - apothecary cabinet

    2. I just frowned at my cardboard boxes.I’m aiming to build something similar out of wood soon. But I also had an idea to build a bookshelf with drawers incorporated, a row of vertical draws on both sides of the shelf and/or one down the middle. Ideally creating book cubbies between the drawers where I could organize related books next to appropriate zettles. Not sure how attached to that idea I am though, seems like something I will like for the moment and find very novel in the future (pun certainly intended).

      reply to GnauticalGnorman

      Don't frown at cardboard. Everyone starts their journey with a single card and a humble box. Filling up a first box is an accomplishment that gives you time to dream about the box you want to have.

      Of potential interest, the cost of index cards to fill these files will be almost the investment in the box itself. Is this similar to the rule of thumb in the art world that the price of the frame should reflect the investment in the artwork?

    1. https://multimediaman.blog/2016/09/30/how-the-index-card-launched-the-information-age/

      A quick overview of the index card and it's role in history from Linnaeus to Dewey to the Mundaneum.

    1. 132 A6HD FCB24 - card index cabinet (2)* 6 x 4” (A6) 159 (6.2”) 434 (17”)

      4x6" Index card cabinet

      Bisley show room in New York (212) 675-3055

    1. Protect it at all costs. As the historian Douglas Brinkley said about Ronald Reagan’s collection of notecards: “If the Reagans’ home in Palisades were burning, this would be one of the things Reagan would immediately drag out of the house. He carried them with him all over like a carpenter brings their tools. These were the tools for his trade.”

      Another example of saving one's commonplace in case of a fire!

      link to: - https://hypothes.is/a/BLL9TvZ9EeuSIrsiWKCB9w - https://hypothes.is/a/zHUghMiaEeuKKvcrc5ux5w

    2. I’ve been keeping my commonplace books in variety of forms for 6 or 7 years. But I’m just getting started.

      In August 2013 Ryan Holiday said that he'd been commonplacing for "6 or 7 years".

    3. Ronald Reagan actually kept quotes on a similar notecard system.

      By at least 2013 Ryan Holiday was aware of Ronald Reagan's note card system from a 2011 USA Today article and related book.

    4. I use 4×6 ruled index cards, which Robert Greene introduced me to. I write the information on the card, and the theme/category on the top right corner. As he figured out, being able to shuffle and move the cards into different groups is crucial to getting the most out of them.

      Ryan Holiday keeps a commonplace book on 4x6 inch ruled index cards with a theme or category written in the top right corner. He learned his system from Robert Greene.

      Of crucial importance to him was the ability to shuffle the cards and move them around.

    1. It's several thousand 4x6 notecards—based on a system taught to by my mentor Robert Greene when I was his research assistant—that have ideas, notes on books I liked, quotes that caught my attention, research for projects or phrases I am kicking around.

      Ryan Holiday learned his index card-based commonplace book system from writer Robert Greene for whom he worked as an assistant.

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    1. Alternate index card holding furniture for display?<br /> https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/wffvs4/alternate_index_card_holding_furniture_for_display/

      Separate from boxes for long term card holding storage, does anyone have any suggestions they like for organizing or temporarily displaying cards?

      I've got a couple card tray rack organizers (originally intended for playing cards, but great for zettels) which I generally like.

      Two playing card holders, one with several cards inserted as an example. The holder allows compact display of cards perpendicular to one's table with the ability to see many at one time while working.

      I've also seen Levenger's note card "bleachers" which are similar, but more expensive. - Note Card Bleachers - Portable Note Card Bleachers - Nantucket Bamboo Compact Bleachers

      Levenger index card bleacher for compactly displaying index cards in an array on a desk so that portions are visible but that they don't take up space.

      Does anyone have anything else they like for compact working/displaying aside from laying cards out on tables/desks?

      Do you have other methods for this sort of organization or layout of ideas visually? Corkboards, magnetic whiteboards/walls, other?

    1. The system of card indexing was propagated by a French Person called Abb’e Jean Rozier (1734-93). The index is prepared by allotting a separate card to each piece of information. The required information are written on the cards. All cards are of uniform size and are arranged in alphabetical, numerical or geographical order.

      https://www.preservearticles.com/business/what-is-card-indexing-and-explain-its-advantages-and-disadvantages/1740

      This source is questionable in it's sourcing and seems to mix several different methods and systems, so we'll need to treat it with a massive grain of salt.

      It does Mention Abb'e Jean Rozier (1734-93) as a historical figure related to propagating a system of card indexing which is a new name to me and thus worth looking into.

      Is Abb'e here a title? (potentially the French translation of the English abbot which is correctly abbé, so this may have had a typo.)

      The dates of life given would indicate that this is not the balloonist/scientist Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Fran%C3%A7ois_Pil%C3%A2tre_de_Rozier

  4. Jul 2022
    1. It wasnot until we had completely re-sorted all our innumerable sheets ofpaper according to subjects, thus bringing together all the facts relatingto each, whatever the trade concerned, or the place or the date—andhad shuffled and reshuffled these sheets according to various tentativehypotheses—that a clear, comprehensive and verifiable theory of theworking and results of Trade Unionism emerged in our minds; tobe embodied, after further researches by way of verification, in ourIndustrial Democracy (1897).

      Beatrice Webb was using her custom note taking system in the lead up to the research that resulted in the publication of Industrial Democracy (1897).

      Is there evidence that she was practicing this note taking/database practice earlier than this?

    2. For a highly elaborated and skilled processof “ making notes ”, besides its obvious use in recording observationswhich would otherwise be forgotten, is actually an instrument of dis¬covery.

      Beatrice Webb sees the primary uses of notes as a memory device and a discovery device.

    3. This process serves a similar purpose in sociology to that of theblow-pipe and the balance in chemistry, or the prism and the electro¬scope in physics. That is to say, it enables the scientific worker to breakup his subject-matter, so as to isolate and examine at his leisure itsvarious component parts, and to recombine them in new and experi¬mental groupings in order to discover which sequences of events have acausal significance

      Beatrice Webb analogized the card index (or note taking using slips of paper) as serving the function of a scientific tool for sociologists the way that chemists use blow pipes and balances or physicists use the prism or electroscope. These tools all help the researcher examine small constituent parts and then situate them in other orderings to provide insight into the subject areas.

    1. Over the course of his intellectual life, from about 1943 until hissudden death in 1980, Barthes built a card index consisting of morethan 12,250 note cards – the full extent of this collection was notknown until access to it was granted to the manuscript researchers ofthe Institut Mémoires de l’édition contemporaine (IMEC) inFrance (Krapp, 2006: 363).3

      Roland Barthes accumulated a card index of more than 12,250 note cards beginning in 1943 which were held after his death in 1980 at the Institut Mémoires de l’édition contemporaine (IMEC) in France.

      Barthes' dates 12 November 1915 – 26 March 1980 age 64

      He started his card index at roughly age 28 and at around the same time which he began producing written work. (Did he have any significant writing work or publications prior to this?)

      His card collection spanned about 37 years and at 12,250 cards means that was producing on average 0.907 cards per day. If we don't include weekends, then he produced 1.27 cards per day on average. Compare this with Ahrens' estimate of 6 cards a day for Niklas Luhmann.


      With this note I'm starting the use of a subject heading (in English) of "card index" as a generic collection of notes which are often kept in one or more boxes. This is to distinguish it from the more modern idea of zettelkasten in the Luhmann framing which also connotes a dense set of links between the cards themselves, though this may not have been the case historically. Card index is also specifically separate from 'index card' which is an individual instance of an item that might be found in a card index. At present, I'm unaware of a specific word in English which defines the broader note taking context or portions thereof relating to index cards in the same way that a zettelkasten implies. This may be the result of the broad use of index cards for so many varying uses in the early 20th century. For these other varying uses I'll try to differentiate them henceforth with the generic 'index card files' which might also be used to describe the containers in which cards might be found.

    1. Famously, Luswig Wittgenstein organized his thoughts this way. Also famously, he never completed his 'big book' - almost all of his books (On Certainty, Philosophical Investigations, Zettel, etc.) were compiled by his students in the years after his death.

      I've not looked directly at Wittgenstein's note collection before, but it could be an interesting historical example.


      Might be worth collecting examples of what has happened to note collections after author's lives. Some obviously have been influential in scholarship, but generally they're subsumed by the broader category of a person's "papers" which are often archived at libraries, museums, and other institutions.

      Examples: - Vincentius Placcius' collection used by his students - Niklas Luhmann's zettelkasten which is being heavily studied by Johannes F.K. Schmidt - Mortimer J. Adler - was his kept? where is it stored?

      Posthumously published note card collections - Ludwig Wittgenstein - Walter Benjamin's Arcades Project - Ronald Reagan's collection at his presidential library, though it is more of an commonplace book collection of quotes which was later published - Roland Barthes' Mourning Diary - Vladimir Nabokov's The Original of Laura - others...


      Just as note collections serve an autobiographical function, perhaps they may also serve as an intellectual autobiographical function? Wittgenstein never managed to complete his 'big book', but in some sense, doesn't his collection of note cards serve this function for those willing to explore it all?


      I'd previously suggested that Scott P. Scheper publish not only his book on note taking, but to actually publish his note cards as a stand-alone zettelkasten example to go with them. What if this sort of publishing practice were more commonplace? The modern day equivalent is more likely a person's blog or their wiki. Not enough people are publicly publishing their notes to see what this practice might look like for future generations.

    1. Beyond the cards mentioned above, you should also capture any hard-to-classify thoughts, questions, and areas for further inquiry on separate cards. Regularly go through these to make sure that you are covering everything and that you don’t forget something.I consider these insurance cards because they won’t get lost in some notebook or scrap of paper, or email to oneself.

      Julius Reizen in reviewing over Umberto Eco's index card system in How to Write a Thesis, defines his own "insurance card" as one which contains "hard-to-classify thoughts, questions, and areas for further inquiry". These he would keep together so that they don't otherwise get lost in the variety of other locations one might keep them

      These might be akin to Ahrens' "fleeting notes" but are ones which may not easily or even immediately be converted in to "permanent notes" for one's zettelkasten. However, given their mission critical importance, they may be some of the most important cards in one's repository.

      link this to - idea of centralizing one's note taking practice to a single location

      Is this idea in Eco's book and Reizen is the one that gives it a name since some of the other categories have names? (examples: bibliographic index cards, reading index cards (aka literature notes), cards for themes, author index cards, quote index cards, idea index cards, connection cards). Were these "officially" named and categorized by Eco?

      May be worthwhile to create a grid of these naming systems and uses amongst some of the broader note taking methods. Where are they similar, where do they differ?


      Multi-search tools that have full access to multiple trusted data stores (ostensibly personal ones across notebooks, hard drives, social media services, etc.) could potentially solve the problem of needing to remember where you noted something.

      Currently, in the social media space especially, this is not a realized service.

  5. Jun 2022
    1. u/sscheper in writing your book, have you thought about the following alternative publishing idea which I'm transcribing from a random though I put on a card this morning?

      I find myself thinking about people publishing books in index card/zettelkasten formats. Perhaps Scott Scheper could do this with his antinet book presented in a traditional linear format, but done in index cards with his numbers, links, etc. as well as his actual cards for his index at the end so that readers could also see the power of the system by holding it in their hands and playing with it?

      It could be done roughly like Edward Powys Mathers' Cain's Jawbone or Henry Korn's Pontoon Manifesto? Perhaps numbered consecutively to make it easier to bring back into that format, but also done with your zk numbering so that people could order it and use it that way too? This way you get the book as well as a meta artifact of what the book is about as an example of how to do such a thing for yourself. Maybe even make a contest for a better ordering for the book than the one you published it in ?

      Link to: - https://hyp.is/6IBzkPfeEeyo9Suq-ZmCKg/www.scientificamerican.com/article/reading-paper-screens/

    1. The slipbox and index cards on which Vladimir Nabokov wrote his novel Lolita.

      Vladimir Nabokov famously wrote most of his works including Lolita using index cards in a slip box. He ultimately died in 1977 leaving an unfinished manuscript in note card form for the novel The Original of Laura. Penguin later published the incomplete novel with in 2012 with the subtitle A Novel in Fragments. Unlike most manuscripts written or typewritten on larger paper, this one came in the form of 138 index cards. Penguin's published version recreated these cards in full-color reproductions including the smudges, scribbles, scrawlings, strikeouts, and annotations in English, French, and Russian. Perforated, one could tear the cards out of the book and reorganize in any way they saw fit or even potentially add their own cards to finish the novel that Nabokov couldn't.

      Index card on which Nabokov collated notes on ages, heights, and measurements for school aged girls as research for his title character Lolita.

      More details at: https://www.openculture.com/2014/02/the-notecards-on-which-vladimir-nabokov-wrote-lolita.html

    1. I also like the simplicity of a box. There’s a purpose here, and it has a lot to dowith efficiency. A writer with a good storage and retrieval system can write faster.He isn’t spending a lot of time looking things up, scouring his papers, and patrollingother rooms at home wondering where he left that perfect quote. It’s in the box.

      A card index can be a massive boon to a writer as a well-indexed one, in particular, will save massive amounts of time which might otherwise be spent searching for quotes or ideas that they know they know, but can't easily recreate.

    2. There are separate boxes for everything I’ve ever done. If you want a glimpseinto how I think and work, you could do worse than to start with my boxes.
  6. danallosso.substack.com danallosso.substack.com
    1. https://danallosso.substack.com/p/note-cards?s=r

      Outline of one of Dan's experiments writing a handbook about reading, thinking, and writing. He's taking a zettelkasten-like approach, but doing it as a stand-alone project with little indexing and crosslinking of ideas or creating card addresses.

      This sounds more akin to the processes of Vladimir Nabokov and Ryan Holiday/Robert Greene.

    1. 1980s: "I always typed a few hours a day on a heavy and noisy IBM typewriter. Before converting to the Apple faith, I wrote down every interesting idea or possibly useful datum on 5 × 8 cards that I kept in card-boxes. But I used them only sparingly to write papers of books, for they were just random collections. Once an unknown American scholar phoned me to announce that he was about to commit suicide because he had failed to craft a general theory of ideas out of thousands of cards that he had filled in the course of a decade. He had been a casualty of dataism, the idea that knowledge of anything is just a collection of bits of knowledge." (pp. 273–274)

      Anecdotal evidence of contemplation of suicide based on over-collection of notes without creating a clear thesis or use for them.

      I'm curious who the colleague was and what or how their note taking system wasn't working for them. Most likely the inability to link ideas to each other, lack of clear examples of others doing the practice to help guide them?

    2. Mario Bunge (1919–2020) was an Argentine-Canadian philosopher and physicist. Here are some excerpts from his book Between Two Worlds: Memoirs of a Philosopher-Scientist (Springer-Verlag, 2016) about his use of card-boxes

      Mario Bunge had a card index note taking practice.

    1. together with his friend Wendell Hertig Taylor, kept a running tally of every mystery book that came along. Their brief descriptions, scribbled on three-by-five-inch index cards, eventually coalesced into “A Catalogue of Crime,” one of the foremost reference works in the mystery/suspense genre.

      Jacques Barzun had a card index for cataloging mystery/suspense books which he maintained on 3x5" cards with his friend Wendell Hertig Taylor.

      Did he keep a card index for his ideas as well?

  7. May 2022
    1. Thus, the sensitive seismographer of avant-garde develop-ments, Walter Benjamin, logically conceived of this scenario in 1928, of communicationwith card indices rather than books: “And even today, as the current scientific methodteaches us, the book is an archaic intermediate between two different card indexsystems. For everything substantial is found in the slip box of the researcher who wroteit and the scholar who studies in it, assimilated into its own card index.” 47
      1. Walter Benjamin, Einbahnstra ß e, in Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 4 (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1928/1981), 98 – 140, at 103.

      Does Walter Benjamin prefigure the idea of card indexes conversing with themselves in a communicative method similar to that of Vannevar Bush's Memex?

      This definitely sounds like the sort of digital garden inter-communication afforded by the Anagora as suggested by @Flancian.

    2. According to this, the arrangement consists of “wooden boxes with drawers that pullout in the front, and cards in octavo format ” (= DIN A5).

      Luhmann's zettelkasten collection of cards was in octavo format, aka DIN A5 (148mm x 210mm or 5.8" x 8.3").

    3. commenting in an interview: “By the way, many people havecome here to see that.”13 The writing tool became an object of desire, especially foryoung academics seeking to add a carefully planned card index to their carefully plannedcareers: “After all, Fred wants to be a professor.” 1

      Luhmann indicates that aspiring academics came to visit to see his card collection in potentially planning their own.

      1. Ralf Klassen, “Bezaubernde Jeannie oder Liebe ist nur ein Zeitvertreib,” in Wir Fernsehkinder. Eine Generation ohne Programm, ed. Walter Wüllenweber (Berlin: Rowohlt Berlin Verlag, 1994), 81 – 97, at 84.
    4. Card indexes can do anything!—Das System, Zeitschrift für Organisation , Book 1, January 1928

      Dig up this reference. English version?

    1. Between 1930 to 1980,Labrousse, Daumard, and Kuznets carried out their research almostexclusively by hand, on file cards.

      Piketty indicates that Ernest Labrousse, Adeline Daumard, and Simon Kuznets carried out their economic and historical research almost exclusively by hand using file cards.

      Are their notes still extant? What did their systems look like? From whom did they learn them?

  8. Apr 2022
    1. INTERVIEWER: Could you say something of your work habits?Do you write to a preplanned chart? Do you jump from onesection to another, or do you move from the beginning throughto the end?NABOKOV: The pattern of the thing precedes the thing. I fill inthe gaps of the crossword at any spot I happen to choose. Thesebits I write on index cards until the novel is done. My schedule

      is flexible, but I am rather particular about my instruments: lined Bristol cards and well sharpened, not too hard, pencils capped with erasers.

      Nabokov on his system of writing.

    2. Nabokov arises early in the morning and works. He does hiswriting on filing cards, which are gradually copied, expanded, andrearranged until they become his novels.
    3. Mr. Nabokov’s writing method is to compose his stories and novels on index cards,shuffling them as the work progresses since he does not write in consecutive order.Every card is rewritten many times. When the work is completed,the cards in final order, Nabokov dictates from them to his wifewho types it up in triplicate.

      Vladimir Nabokov's general writing method consisted of composing his material on index cards so that he could shuffle them as he worked as he didn't write in consecutive order. He rewrote and edited cards many times and when the work was completed with the cards in their final order, Nabokov dictated them to his wife Vera who would type them up in triplicate.