- Jul 2022
But it's not a trivial problem. I have compiled, at latest reckoning, 35,669 posts - my version of a Zettelkasten. But how to use them when writing a paper? It's not straightforward - and I find myself typically looking outside my own notes to do searches on Google and elsewhere. So how is my own Zettel useful? For me, the magic happens in the creation, not in the subsequent use. They become grist for pattern recognition. I don't find value in classifying them or categorizing them (except for historical purposes, to create a chronology of some concept over time), but by linking them intuitively to form overarching themes or concepts not actually contained in the resources themselves. But this my brain does, not my software. Then I write a paper (or an outline) based on those themes (usually at the prompt of an interview, speaking or paper invitation) and then I flesh out the paper by doing a much wider search, and not just my limited collection of resources.
Stephen Downes describes some of his note taking process for creation here. He doesn't actively reuse his notes (or in this case blog posts, bookmarks, etc.) which number a sizeable 35669, directly, at least in the sort of cut and paste method suggested by Sönke Ahrens. Rather he follows a sort of broad idea, outline creation, and search plan akin to that described by Cory Doctorow in 20 years a blogger
Downes suggests that the "magic happens in the creation" of his notes. He uses them as "grist for pattern recognition". He doesn't mention words like surprise or serendipity coming from his notes by linking them, though he does use them "intuitively to form overarching themes or concepts not actually contained in the resources themselves." This is closely akin to the broader ideas ensconced in inventio, Llullan Wheels, triangle thinking, ideas have sex, combinatorial creativity, serendipity (Luhmann), insight, etc. which have been described by others.
Note that Downes indicates that his brain creates the links and he doesn't rely on his software to do this. The break is compounded by the fact that he doesn't find value in classifying or categorizing his notes.
I appreciate that Downes uses the word "grist" to describe part of his note taking practice which evokes the idea of grinding up complex ideas (the grain) to sort out the portions of the whole to find simpler ideas (the flour) which one might use later to combine to make new ideas (bread, cake, etc.) Similar analogies might be had in the grain harvesting space including winnowing or threshing.
One can compare this use of a grist mill analogy of thinking with the analogy of the crucible, which implies a chamber or space in which elements are brought together often with work or extreme conditions to create new products by their combination.
Of course these also follow the older classical analogy of imitating the bees (apes).
- Dec 2021
Sloman, S. A. (2021). How Do We Believe? Topics in Cognitive Science, 0(2021), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1111/tops.12580
- causal reasoning
- pattern recognition
- unfamiliar circumstance
- sophisticated associative model
- representational scheme
- representational language
- cognitive science
- dual system of thinking
- human thought
- information processing
- Nov 2021
We recognize letters in reading much better by reading the top of letters rather than by reading the bottom of letters.
As a result of this, closing the tops of letters properly is important in writing.
An alternate method of holding one's writing instrument between fore-finter and middle finer with the thumb near the tip can alleviate forearm, wrist, and thumb pain.