- May 2023
Circling back around to this after a mention by Tim Bushell at Dan Allosso's Book Club this morning. Nicole van der Hoeven has been using it for a while now and has several videos.
Though called Napkin, which conjures the idea of (wastebook) notes scribbled on a napkin, is a card-based UI which has both manual and AI generated tags in a constellation-like UI. It allows creating "stacks" of notes which are savable and archivable in an outline-esque form (though the outline doesn't appear collapsible) as a means of composition.
It's got a lot of web clipper tooling for saving and some dovetails for bringing in material from Readwise, but doesn't have great data export (JSON, CSV) at the moment. (Not great here means that one probably needs to do some reasonably heavy lifting to do the back and forth with other tools and may require programming skills.)
At present, it looks like just another tool in the space but could be richer with better data dovetailing with other services.
- Mar 2023
A fascinating combination of office furniture types in 1906!
The Adjustable Table Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan manufactured a combination table for both telephones and index cards. It was designed as an accessory to be stood next to one's desk to accommodate a telephone at the beginning of the telephone era and also served as storage for one's card index.
Given the broad business-based use of the card index at the time and the newness of the telephone, this piece of furniture likely was not designed as an early proto-rolodex, though it certainly could have been (and very well may have likely been) used as such in practice.
I totally want one of these as a side table for my couch/reading chair for both storing index cards and as a temporary writing surface while reading!
This could also be an early precursor to Twitter!
Folks have certainly mentioned other incarnations: - annotations in books (person to self), - postcards (person to person), - the telegraph (person to person and possibly to others by personal communication or newspaper distribution)
but this is the first version of short note user interface for both creation, storage, and distribution by means of electrical transmission (via telephone) with a bigger network (still person to person, but with potential for easy/cheap distribution to more than a single person)
- user interface
- card index for business
- evolution of technology
- card index filing cabinets
- zettelkasten boxes
- Grand Rapids Michigan
- satelite stands
- Adjustable Table Company
- intellectual history
- office furniture
- Oct 2022
Natto https://natto.dev<br /> built by Paul Shen https://twitter.com/_paulshen
Synopsis: Maggie Delano looks at some of the affordances supplied by Tana (compared to Roam Research) in terms of providing better block-based user interface for note type creation, search, and filtering.
These sorts of tools and programmable note implementations remind me of Beatrice Webb's idea of scientific note taking or using her note cards like a database to sort and search for data to analyze it and create new results and insight.
It would seem that many of these note taking tools like Roam and Tana are using blocks and sub blocks as a means of defining atomic notes or database-like data in a way in which sub-blocks are linked to or "filed underneath" their parent blocks. In reality it would seem that they're still using a broadly defined index card type system as used in the late 1800s/early 1900s to implement a set up that otherwise would be a traditional database in the Microsoft Excel or MySQL sort of fashion, the major difference being that the user interface is cognitively easier to understand for most people.
These allow people to take a form of structured textual notes to which might be attached other smaller data or meta data chunks that can be easily searched, sorted, and filtered to allow for quicker or easier use.
Ostensibly from a mathematical (or set theoretic and even topological) point of view there should be a variety of one-to-one and onto relationships (some might even extend these to "links") between these sorts of notes and database representations such that one should be able to implement their note taking system in Excel or MySQL and do all of these sorts of things.
Cascading Idea Sheets or Cascading Idea Relationships
One might analogize these sorts of note taking interfaces to Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). While there is the perennial question about whether or not CSS is a programming language, if we presume that it is (and it is), then we can apply the same sorts of class, id, and inheritance structures to our notes and their meta data. Thus one could have an incredibly atomic word, phrase, or even number(s) which inherits a set of semantic relationships to those ideas which it sits below. These links and relationships then more clearly define and contextualize them with respect to other similar ideas that may be situated outside of or adjacent to them. Once one has done this then there is a variety of Boolean operations which might be applied to various similar sets and classes of ideas.
If one wanted to go an additional level of abstraction further, then one could apply the ideas of category theory to one's notes to generate new ideas and structures. This may allow using abstractions in one field of academic research to others much further afield.
The user interface then becomes the key differentiator when bringing these ideas to the masses. Developers and designers should be endeavoring to allow the power of complex searches, sorts, and filtering while minimizing the sorts of advanced search queries that an average person would be expected to execute for themselves while also allowing some reasonable flexibility in the sorts of ways that users might (most easily for them) add data and meta data to their ideas.
Jupyter programmable notebooks are of this sort, but do they have the same sort of hierarchical "card" type (or atomic note type) implementation?
- user interface
- programmable notes
- Beatrice Webb
- building blocks
- Boolean algebra
- cascading idea sheets
- idea links
- integrated development environment
- integrated thinking environments
- super tags
- Roam Research
- Maggie Delano
- card index as database
- types of notes
- scientific note taking
- category theory
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.
- Aug 2022