- Nov 2022
One of the big lies notetakers tell themselves is, “I will remember why I liked this quote/story/fact/etc.”
Take notes for your most imperfect, forgetful future self. You're assuredly not only not going to remember either the thing you are taking notes for in the first place, but you're highly unlikely to remember why you thought it was interesting or intriguing or that clever thing you initially thought of at the same time.
Capture all of this quickly in the moment, particularly the interesting links to other things in your repository of notes. These ideas will be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for one to remember.
- Oct 2022
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?
- integrated thinking environments
- idea links
- card index as database
- user interface
- types of notes
- cascading idea sheets
- Beatrice Webb
- building blocks
- Maggie Delano
- category theory
- Roam Research
- scientific note taking
- super tags
- integrated development environment
- programmable notes
- Boolean algebra
riclav 16y Do you implement any kind of analogue "trackback"? In other words, does 2006.7.14 18.06 know that it has been linked to? If not, would there be value in having this kind of function?
The original PoIC didn't include bi-directional links, but the idea was brought up and considered.
How to link between Cards The "date" and "time" stamp of a cards define their "absolute name". This is why the time stamp must be unique, but not necessary to be accurate. In addition, it is easy to find a specific card, according to the stamp, if all cards are kept in chronological order. This technique was first introduced on the 2-channel.
The PoIC system allows linking of cards using date/timestamps for indexing/finding. Interestingly they were all kept in chronological order rather than in idea order as in Luhmann's zettelkasten.
What are the pros/cons of this?<br /> - more searching and hunting through cards certainly is a drawback for lack of "threaded" ideas - others...
hawkexpress apparently learned this technique on the 2-channel.
- Aug 2022
Historical Hypermedia: An Alternative History of the Semantic Web and Web 2.0 and Implications for e-Research. .mp3. Berkeley School of Information Regents’ Lecture. UC Berkeley School of Information, 2010. https://archive.org/details/podcast_uc-berkeley-school-informat_historical-hypermedia-an-alte_1000088371512. archive.org.
Interface as Thing - book on Paul Otlet (not released, though he said he was working on it)
- W. Boyd Rayward 1994 expert on Otlet
- Otlet on annotation, visualization, of text
- TBL married internet and hypertext (ideas have sex)
- V. Bush As We May Think - crosslinks between microfilms, not in a computer context
- Ted Nelson 1965, hypermedia
- Michael Buckland book about machine developed by Emanuel Goldberg antecedent to memex
- Emanuel Goldberg and His Knowledge Machine: Information, Invention, and Political Forces (New Directions in Information Management) by Michael Buckland (Libraries Unlimited, (March 31, 2006)
- Otlet and Goldsmith were precursors as well
four figures in his research: - Patrick Gattis - biologist, architect, diagrams of knowledge, metaphorical use of architecture; classification - Paul Otlet, Brussels born - Wilhelm Ostwalt - nobel prize in chemistry - Otto Neurath, philosophher, designer of isotype
- wrote bibliography on law
- book: Something on Bibliography #wanttoread
- universal decimal classification system
- Le Corbusier - architect worked with Otlet for building for Mundaneum; See: https://socks-studio.com/2019/05/05/the-shape-of-knowledge-the-mundaneum-by-paul-otlet-and-henri-la-fontaine/
Otlet was interested in both the physical as well as the intangible aspects of the Mundaneum including as an idea, an institution, method, body of work, building, and as a network.<br /> (#t=1020)
Early iPhone diagram?!?
(roughly) armchair to do the things in the web of life (Nelson quote) (get full quote and source for use) (circa 19:30)
compares Otlet to TBL
Michael Buckland 1991 <s>internet of things</s> coinage - did I hear this correctly? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_of_things lists different coinages
Turns out it was "information as thing"<br /> See: https://hypothes.is/a/kXIjaBaOEe2MEi8Fav6QsA
sugane brierre and otlet<br /> "everything can be in a document"<br /> importance of evidence
The idea of evidence implies a passiveness. For evidence to be useful then, one has to actively do something with it, use it for comparison or analysis with other facts, knowledge, or evidence for it to become useful.
transformation of sound into writing<br /> movement of pieces at will to create a new combination of facts - combinatorial creativity idea here. (circa 27:30 and again at 29:00)<br /> not just efficiency but improvement and purification of humanity
put things on system cards and put them into new orders<br /> breaking things down into smaller pieces, whether books or index cards....
Otlet doesn't use the word interfaces, but makes these with language and annotations that existed at the time. (32:00)
Otlet created diagrams and images to expand his ideas
Otlet used octagonal index cards to create extra edges to connect them together by topic. This created more complex trees of knowledge beyond the four sides of standard index cards. (diagram referenced, but not contained in the lecture)
Otlet is interested in the "materialization of knowledge": how to transfer idea into an object. (How does this related to mnemonic devices for daily use? How does it relate to broader material culture?)
Otlet inspired by work of Herbert Spencer
space an time are forms of thought, I hold myself that they are forms of things. (get full quote and source) from spencer influence of Plato's forms here?
Otlet visualization of information (38:20)
S. R. Ranganathan may have had these ideas about visualization too
atomization of knowledge; atomist approach 19th century examples:S. R. Ranganathan, Wilson, Otlet, Richardson, (atomic notes are NOT new either...) (39:40)
Otlet creates interfaces to the world - time with cyclic representation - space - moving cube along time and space axes as well as levels of detail - comparison to Ted Nelson and zoomable screens even though Ted Nelson didn't have screens, but simulated them in paper - globes
Katie Berner - semantic web; claims that reporting a scholarly result won't be a paper, but a nugget of information that links to other portions of the network of knowledge.<br /> (so not just one's own system, but the global commons system)
Mention of Open Annotation (Consortium) Collaboration:<br /> - Jane Hunter, University of Australia Brisbane & Queensland<br /> - Tim Cole, University of Urbana Champaign<br /> - Herbert Van de Sompel, Los Alamos National Laboratory annotations of various media<br /> see:<br /> - https://www.researchgate.net/publication/311366469_The_Open_Annotation_Collaboration_A_Data_Model_to_Support_Sharing_and_Interoperability_of_Scholarly_Annotations - http://www.openannotation.org/spec/core/20130205/index.html - http://www.openannotation.org/PhaseIII_Team.html
trust must be put into the system for it to work
coloration of the provenance of links goes back to Otlet (~52:00)
Creativity is the friction of the attention space at the moments when the structural blocks are grinding against one another the hardest. —Randall Collins (1998) The sociology of philosophers. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press (p.76)
- Ted Nelson
- mnemonic devices
- Jane Hunter
- Paul Otlet
- Michael Buckland
- index cards
- Herbert Spencer
- Universal Decimal Classification
- Otto Neurath
- Web 2.0
- atomic notes
- Herbert Van de Sompel
- atomic ideas
- Tim Cole
- Charles van den Heuvel
- Vannevar Bush
- Wilhelm Ostwalt
- W. Boyd Rayward
- materialization of knowledge
- S. R. Ranganathan
- atomist philosophy
- idea links
- Tim Berners-Lee
- Randall Collins
- Le Corbusier
- Emanuel Goldberg
- Open Annotation Collaboration
- semantic web
- octagonal index cards
- material culture
- Jul 2022
I've been thinking about this sort of thing off and on myself.
I too almost immediately thought of Fraidyc.at and its nudge at shifting the importance of content based on time and recency. I'd love to have a social reader with additional affordances for both this time shifting and Ton's idea of reading based on social distance.
I'm struck by the seemingly related idea of @peterhagen's LindyLearn platform and annotations: https://annotations.lindylearn.io/new/ which focuses on taking some of the longer term interesting ideas as the basis for browsing and chewing on. Though even here, one needs some of the odd, the cutting edge, and the avant garde in their balanced internet diet. Would Spring '83 provide some of this?
I'm also struck by some similarities this has with the idea of Derek Siver's /now page movement. I see some updating regularly while others have let it slip by the wayside. Still the "board" of users exists, though one must click through a sea of mostly smiling and welcoming faces to get to it the individual pieces of content. (The smiling faces are more inviting and personal than the cacophony of yelling and chaos I see in models for Spring '83.) This reminds me of Stanley Meyers' frequent assertion that he attempted to design a certain "sense of quiet" into the early television show Dragnet to balance the seeming loudness of the everyday as well as the noise of other contemporaneous television programming.
The form reminds me a bit of the signature pages of one's high school year book. But here, instead of the goal being timeless scribbles, one has the opportunity to change the message over time. Does the potential commercialization of the form (you know it will happen in a VC world crazed with surveillance capitalism) follow the same trajectory of the old college paper facebook? Next up, Yearbook.com!
Beyond the thing as a standard, I wondered what the actual form of Spring '83 adds to a broader conversation? What does it add to the diversity of voices that we don't already see in other spaces. How might it be abused? Would people come back to it regularly? What might be its emergent properties?
It definitely seems quirky and fun in and old school web sort of way, but it also stresses me out looking at the zany busyness of some of the examples of magazine stands. The general form reminds me of the bargain bins at book stores which have the promise of finding valuable hidden gems and at an excellent price, but often the ideas and quality of what I find usually isn't worth the discounted price and the return on investment is rarely worth the effort. How might this get beyond these forms?
It also brings up the idea of what other online forms we may have had with this same sort of raw experimentation? How might the internet have looked if there had been a bigger rise of the wiki before that of the blog? What would the world be like if Webmention had existed before social media rose to prominence? Did we somehow miss some interesting digital animals because the web rose so quickly to prominence without more early experimentation before its "Cambrian explosion"?
I've been thinking about distilled note taking forms recently and what a network of atomic ideas on index cards look like and what emerges from them. What if the standard were digital index cards that linked and cross linked to each other, particularly in a world without adherence to time based orders and streams? What does a new story look like if I can pull out a card either at random or based on a single topic and only see it or perhaps some short linked chain of ideas (mine or others) which come along with it? Does the choice of a random "Markov monkey" change my thinking or perspective? What comes out of this jar of Pandora? Is it just a new form of cadavre exquis?
This standard has been out for a bit and presumably folks are experimenting with it. What do the early results look like? How are they using it? Do they like it? Does it need more scale? What do small changes make to the overall form?
For more on these related ideas, see: https://hypothes.is/search?q=tag%3A%22spring+%2783%22
- cadavre exquis
- Pandora's box
- Spring '83
- index cards
- Markov monkey
- atomic idea links
- atomic notes
- web standards
- combinatorial creativity
- alternate universes
- Now Now Now
- experimental fiction
- media studies
- experimental media
- Derek Sivers
- narrative forms
- Lindy library
- May 2022
The last element in his file system was an index, from which hewould refer to one or two notes that would serve as a kind of entrypoint into a line of thought or topic.
Indices are certainly an old construct. One of the oldest structured examples in the note taking space is that of John Locke who detailed it in Méthode nouvelle de dresser des recueils (1685), later translated into English as A New Method of Organizing Common Place Books (1706).
Previously commonplace books had been structured with headwords done alphabetically. This meant starting with a preconceived structure and leaving blank or empty space ahead of time without prior knowledge of what would fill it or how long that might take. By turning that system on its head, one could fill a notebook from front to back with a specific index of the headwords at the end. Then one didn't need to do the same amount of pre-planning or gymnastics over time with respect to where to put their notes.
This idea combined with that of Konrad Gessner's design for being able to re-arrange slips of paper (which later became index cards based on an idea by Carl Linnaeus), gives us an awful lot of freedom and flexibility in almost any note taking system.
Building blocks of the note taking system
- atomic ideas
- written on (re-arrangeable) slips, cards, or hypertext spaces
- cross linked with each other
- cross linked with an index
- cross linked with references
are there others? should they be broken up differently?
Godfathers of Notetaking
- Aristotle, Cicero (commonplaces)
- Seneca the Younger (collecting and reusing)
- Raymond Llull (combinatorial rearrangements)
- Konrad Gessner (storage for re-arrangeable slips)
- John Locke (indices)
- Carl Linnaeus (index cards)
The biggest mistake—and one I’ve made myself—is linking with categories. In other words, it’s adding links like we would with tags. When we link this way we’re more focused on grouping rather than connecting. As a result, we have notes that contain many connections with little to no relevance. Additionally, we add clutter to our links which makes it difficult to find useful links when adding links. That being said, there are times when we might want to group some things. In these cases, use tags or folders.
Most people born since the advent of the filing cabinet and the computer have spent a lifetime using a hierarchical folder-based mental model for their knowledge. For greater value and efficiency one needs to get away from this model and move toward linking individual ideas together in ways that they can more easily be re-used.
To accomplish this many people use an index-based method that uses topical or subject headings which can be useful. However after even a few years of utilizing a generic tag (science for example) it may become overwhelmed and generally useless in a broad search. Even switching to narrower sub-headings (physics, biology, chemistry) may show the same effect. As a result one will increasingly need to spend time and effort to maintain and work at this sort of taxonomical system.
The better option is to directly link related ideas to each other. Each atomic idea will have a much more limited set of links to other ideas which will create a much more valuable set of interlinks for later use. Limiting your links at this level will be incredibly more useful over time.
One of the biggest benefits of the physical system used by Niklas Luhmann was that each card was required to be placed next to at least one card in a branching tree of knowledge (or a whole new branch had to be created.) Though he often noted links to other atomic ideas there was at least a minimum link of one on every idea in the system.
For those who have difficulty deciding where to place a new idea within their system, it can certainly be helpful to add a few broad keywords of the type one might put into an index. This may help you in linking your individual ideas as you can do a search of one or more of your keywords to narrow down the existing ones within your collection. This may help you link your new idea to one or more of those already in your system. This method may be even more useful and helpful for those who are starting out and have fewer than 500-1000 notes in their system and have even less to link their new atomic ideas to.
For those who have graphical systems, it may be helpful to look for one or two individual "tags" in a graph structure to visually see the number of first degree notes that link to them as a means of creating links between atomic ideas.
To have a better idea of a hierarchy of value within these ideas, it may help to have some names and delineate this hierarchy of potential links. Perhaps we might borrow some well ideas from library and information science to guide us? There's a system in library science that uses a hierarchical set up using the phrases: "broader terms", "narrower terms", "related terms", and "used for" (think alias or also known as) for cataloging books and related materials.
We might try using tags or index-like links in each of these levels to become more specific, but let's append "connected atomic ideas" to the bottom of the list.
Here's an example:
- broader terms (BT): [[physics]]
- narrower terms (NT): [[mechanics]], [[dynamics]]
- related terms (RT): [[acceleration]], [[velocity]]
- used for (UF) or aliases:
- connected atomic ideas: [[force = mass * acceleration]], [[$$v^2=v_0^2+2aΔx$$]]
Chances are that within a particular text, one's notes may connect and interrelate to each other quite easily, but it's important to also link those ideas to other ideas that are already in your pre-existing body of knowledge.
See also: Thesaurus for Graphic Materials I: Subject Terms (TGM I) https://www.loc.gov/rr/print/tgm1/ic.html
- Dec 2021
Through an inner structure of recursive links and semantic pointers, a card index achieves a proper autonomy; it behaves as a ‘communication partner’ who can recommend unexpected associations among different ideas. I suggest that in this respect pre-adaptive advances took root in early modern Europe, and that this basic requisite for information pro-cessing machines was formulated largely by the keyword ‘order’.
aliases for "topical headings": headwords keywords tags categories
One more thing ought to be explained in advance: why the card index is indeed a paper machine. As we will see, card indexes not only possess all the basic logical elements of the universal discrete machine — they also fi t a strict understanding of theoretical kinematics . The possibility of rear-ranging its elements makes the card index a machine: if changing the position of a slip of paper and subsequently introducing it in another place means shifting other index cards, this process can be described as a chained mechanism. This “ starts moving when force is exerted on one of its movable parts, thus changing its position. What follows is mechanical work taking place under particular conditions. This is what we call a machine . ” 11 The force taking effect is the user ’ s hand. A book lacks this property of free motion, and owing to its rigid form it is not a paper machine.
The mechanical work of moving an index card from one position to another (and potentially changing or modifying links to it in the process) allows us to call card catalogues paper machines. This property is not shared by information stored in codices or scrolls and thus we do not call books paper machines.