209 Matching Annotations
  1. Last 7 days
    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. On this point, for instance, thebook on John Dewey's technique of thought by Bogos-lovsky, The Logic of Controversy, and C.E. Ayers' essayon the gospel of technology in Philosophy Today andTomorrow, edited by Hook and Kallen.

      The Technique of Controversy: Principles of Dynamic Logic by Boris B. Bogoslovsky https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Technique_of_Controversy/P-rgAwAAQBAJ?hl=en

      What was Dewey's contribution here?


      The Gospel of Technology by C. E. Ayers https://archive.org/details/americanphilosop00kall/page/24/mode/2up

    3. I found in the files three relevant types of "existingmaterials": several theories having to do with the topic;materials already worked up by others as evidence forthose theories; and data already gathered and in variousstages of accessible centralization, but not yet madetheoretically relevant.
    4. Method and theory are like thelanguage of the country you live in: it is nothing to bragabout that you can speak it, but it is a disgrace, as well asan inconvenience, if you cannot.
    5. In this essay I am going to try candidly to report how Ibecame interested in a topic I happen now to be studying,and how I am going about studying it. I know that in doingthis I run the risk of failing in modesty and perhaps even ofclaiming some peculiar virtue for my own personal habits.1 intend no such claims. 1 know also that it may be said:"WelL, that's the way you work; but it's not of much use tom e . " To this the reply seems quite clear; it is: " W o n d e r -ful. Tell me how you w o r k . "

      We could use more of this in the current tools for thought space. Given neurodiversity, having a smorgasbord of options from which to choose from and then to be able to pick and choose or experiment on what works for you in particular seems to be the best route forward.

    6. Perhaps there are al-ready too many formal discourses on method, and cer-tainly there are too many inspirational pieces on how tothink. Neither seem to be of much use to those for whomthey are apparently intended. The first does not usuallytouch the realities of the problem as the beginning studentencounters them: the second is usually vulgar and oftennonsense.

      A description of the problem.

      Also missing are concrete examples and modeling of behavior for students to see and follow.

  2. Sep 2022
    1. Critical reading methods, such asCERIC, make hidden expectations of doctoral programs explicit.

      Are some of the critical reading methods they're framing here similar to or some of the type found at Project Zero (https://pz.harvard.edu/thinking-routines)?

    2. Not related to this text, but just thinking...

      Writing against a blank page is dreadful and we all wish we would be visited by the muses. But writing against another piece of text can be incredibly fruitful for generating ideas, even if they don't necessarily relate to the text at hand. The text gives us something to latch onto for creating work.

      Try the following exercise:<br /> Write down 20 things that are white.<br /> (Not easy is it?)

      Now write down 20 things in your refrigerator that are white?<br /> (The ideas come a lot easier don't they, even if you couldn't come up with 20.)

      The more specific area helped you anchor your thoughts and give them a positive direction. Annotating against texts in which you're interested does this same sort of anchoring for your brain when you're writing.

      Is there research on this area of concentration with respect to creativity?

    1. https://twitter.com/Extended_Brain/status/1563703042125340680

      Replying to @DannyHatcher. 1. Competition among apps makes them add unnecessary bells and whistles. 2. Trying to be all: GTD, ZK, Sticky Notes, proj mgmt, collaboration, workflow 3. Plugins are good for developers, bad for users https://t.co/4fbQ2nwdYd

      — Extended Brain (@Extended_Brain) August 28, 2022
      <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

      Part two sounds a lot like zettelkasten overreach https://boffosocko.com/2022/02/05/zettelkasten-overreach/

      Part one is similar to the issue competing software companies have in attempting to check all the boxes on a supposed list of features without thinking about what their tool is used for in practice. (Isn't there a name for this specific phenomenon besides "mission creep"?)

  3. Aug 2022
    1. good tools for thought arise mostly as a byproduct of doing original work on serious problems

      In the context of use

    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.
  4. Jul 2022
    1. 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. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRIZ

      TRIZ (/ˈtriːz/; Russian: теория решения изобретательских задач, teoriya resheniya izobretatelskikh zadatch), literally: "theory of inventive problem solving " is “the next evolutionary step in creating an organized and systematic approach to problem solving. The development and improvement of products and technologies according to TRIZ are guided by the objective Laws of Engineering System Evolution. TRIZ Problem Solving Tools and Methods are based on them.” In another description, TRIZ is "a problem-solving, analysis and forecasting tool derived from the study of patterns of invention in the global patent literature".

      It was developed by the Soviet inventor and science-fiction author Genrich Altshuller (1926-1998) and his colleagues, beginning in 1946. In English the name is typically rendered as the theory of inventive problem solving, and occasionally goes by the English acronym TIPS.

    1. Here are some glimpses into my tool collection. Many things are still experimental. At present, I use sticky notes of 7.5cm x 7.5cm size. Many of the notes are divided into 4x4 or 4x8 very small boxes with a tool name of one or two words in it. Other notes are small diagrams or mind maps, or they show sheet layouts I found useful. The frequencies of tool use vary wildly - some rarely used tool items went into the tool collection as part of a bundle of similar tools. Next, here are some tool bundles - for this posting, I choose those tools that I have found most useful. Basics: The tools I use most often are simple things like the following: Describe the situation / describe the problems / describe goals / make a list of questions. The Feynman technique: I imagine the A4 sheet and its boxes as a deck of slides, where I try to explain things to a skeptical audience. Focus on difficulties: What are the problems? / Where are conflicts? / Where are gaps? / Where could this fail? Concatenation tools: These tools help me to develop thoughts from one box to the next to the next. Examples: What is crucial here? / Probe deeper. / What are the problems here? / What are my options now? - These tools can have a compound effect when used in iterations - in one single step, their benefit is small, but used over ten or twenty steps, they can actually make a dent. Focus on progress: MIMX = make it more X = make it more powerful / larger / faster / simpler / more complex / ... / What would the founders of Microsoft do? / Make a model with many building blocks and parameters and play around. Representations: Describe your topic and your ideas as a concept map / a mind map / a diagram / in ordinary text / in a proto-math notation. Diagram types: timelines / transitions between states / input-output diagrams / graphs / trees / boxes / tables. TRIZ principles: It's a selection from the 40 canonical items - I found the more physics-based principles less useful, so I left them out. SCAMPER: Substitute / combine / adapt / maximize or minimize / put to other uses / eliminate / rearrange. Creativity tools: Brainstorming / formulate negations and opposites to the ideas you've tried so far / po! = provocative operation, by Edward de Bono / transfer key concepts from a similar domain. Stimuli for ideas from inventions: This is largely a personal list of inventions I find impressive. Stimuli for ideas from geometrical concepts: I find concepts useful like points / lines / curves / circles / spirals / ... Lists of prefixes for concepts and ideas: anti- / proto- / pseudo- / a- / counter- / co- / cluster- / super- / trans- / ... Provocations and challenges: You are wrong. / You have the wrong focus. / What would the opposite look like? / What would John von Neumann say? / ... I use most of the tools for idea generation in the 4 column or the 4x4 sheet layout, with one stimulus in each box, where I can jump between boxes with ease. Typically, many stimuli do not yield remarkable germinal ideas, but on a good evening, some do.
    1. Unfortunately, many corporate software programsaim to level or standardise the differences betweenindividual workers. In supporting knowledgeworkers, we should be careful to provide tools whichenable diversification of individuals’ outputs.Word-processors satisfi this criterion; tools whichembed a model of a knowledge worker’s task in thesoftware do not.

      Tools which allow for flexibility and creativity are better for knowledge workers than those which attempt to crystalize their tasks into ruts. This may tend to force the outputs in a programmatic way and thereby dramatically decrease the potential for innovative outputs. If the tools force the automation of thought without a concurrent increase in creativity then one may as well rely on manual labor for their thinking.


      This may be one of the major flaws of tools for thought in the educational technology space. They often attempt to facilitate the delivery of education in an automated way which dramatically decreases the creativity of the students and the value of the overall outputs. While attempting to automate education may suit the needs of institutions which are delivering the education, particularly with respect to the overall cost of delivery, the automation itself is dramatically at odds with the desire to expand upon ideas and continue innovation for all participants involved. Students also require diverse modes of input (seen/heard) as well as internal processing followed by subsequent outputs (written/drawn/sculpted/painted, spoken/sung, movement/dance). Many teachers don't excel at providing all of these neurodiverse modes and most educational technology tools are even less flexible, thus requiring an even larger panoply of them (often not interoperable because of corporate siloing for competitive reasons) to provide reasonable replacements. Given their ultimate costs, providing a variety of these tools may only serve to increase the overall costs of delivering education or risk diminishing the overall quality. Educators and institutions not watching out for these traps will tend to serve only a small portion of their intended audiences, and even those may be served poorly as they only receive a limited variety of modalities of inputs and outputs. As an example Western cultures' overreliance on primary literacy modes is their Achilles' heel.


      Tools for thought should actively attempt to increase the potential solution spaces available to their users, while later still allowing for focusing of attention. How can we better allow for the divergence of ideas and later convergence? Better, how might we allow for regular and repeated cycles of divergence and convergence? Advanced zettelkasten note taking techniques (which also allow for drawing, visual, auditory and other modalities beyond just basic literacy) seem to allow for this sort of practice over long periods of time, particularly when coupled with outputs which are then published for public consumption and divergence/convergence cycles by others.

      This may also point out some of the stagnation allowed by social media whose primary modes is neither convergence nor divergence. While they allow for the transmission/communication portion, they primarily don't actively encourage their users to closely evaluate the transmitted ideas, internalize them, or ultimately expand upon them. Their primary mode is for maximizing on time of attention (including base emotions including excitement and fear) and the lowest levels of interaction and engagement (likes, retweets, short gut reaction commentary).

    2. Kidd, Alison. “The Marks Are on the Knowledge Worker.” In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 186–91. CHI ’94. New York, NY, USA: Association for Computing Machinery, 1994. https://doi.org/10.1145/191666.191740.

    1. Thanks for all the fantastic literature tips! Added to the list 😊

      If these are the types of things that are interesting, you might also try a shared bibliography that a handful of readers/researchers share and contribute to: https://www.zotero.org/groups/4676190/tools_for_thought

    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. The trending topics on Twitter can be used as a form of juxtaposition of random ideas which could be brought together to make new and interesting things.

      Here's but one example of someone practicing just this:

      Y’all, imagine Spielberg’s Sailor Moon pic.twitter.com/xZ1DEsbLTy

      — Matty Illustration (@MN_illustration) June 30, 2022
      <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

      cc: https://twitter.com/marshallk

    1. Explore more Thinking Routines at pz.harvard.edu/thinking-routines
    2. Compass Points, a routine for examining propositions.

      via https://pz.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/Compass%20Points_0.pdf

      • E- excited
      • W- worrisome
      • N - need to know
      • S - stance or suggestion for moving forward

      These could be used as a simple set of rules for thumb for evaluating and expanding on ideas in note taking or social annotation settings.

      Compare these with the suggestions of Tiago Forte in his book Building a Second Brain. Which is better? More comprehensive? Are there any ideas missing in a broader conceptualization? Is there a better acronymization or analogy for such a technique?

    1. surveys indicate that screens and e-readers interfere with two other important aspects of navigating texts: serendipity and a sense of control.

      Based on surveys, readers indicate that two important parts of textual navigation are sense of control and serendipity.

      http://books.google.com/books/about/Electronic_journal_literature.html?id=YSFlAAAAMAAJ


      How does the control over a book frame how we read? What does "power over" a book look like compared to "power with"?

      What are the tools for thought affordances that paper books provide over digital books and vice versa?


      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 linear format, but done in index cards with his numbers, links, etc. as well as his actual cards for his index so that readers could also see the power of the system by holding it in their hands and playing with it.

    1. Giving Your First Brain a New Job

      This entire chapter thus far (to the end of this section at minimum) sounds like it would have been better motivating material.

      It also has a more touchy-feely and less concrete nature which puts in the self-help category and not so much in the tools for thought space.

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    1. Tiago's book follows the general method of the commonplace book, but relies more heavily on a folder-based method and places far less emphasis and value on having a solid index. There isn't any real focus on linking ideas other than putting some things together in the same folder. His experience with the history of the space in feels like it only goes back to some early Ryan Holiday blog posts. He erroneously credits Luhmann with inventing the zettelkasten and Anne-Laure Le Cunff created digital gardens. He's already retracted these in sketch errata here: https://www.buildingasecondbrain.com/endnotes.

      I'll give him at least some credit that there is some reasonable evidence that he actually used his system to write his own book, but the number and depth of his references and experience is exceptionally shallow given the number of years he's been in the space, particularly professionally. He also has some interesting anecdotes and examples of various people including and array of artists and writers which aren't frequently mentioned in the note taking space, so I'll give him points for some diversity of players as well. I'm mostly left with the feeling that he wrote the book because of the general adage that "thought leaders in their space should have a published book in their area to have credibility". Whether or not one can call him a thought leader for "re-inventing" something that Rudolphus Agricola and Desiderius Erasmus firmly ensconced into Western culture about 500 years ago is debatable.

      Stylistically, I'd call his prose a bit florid and too often self-help-y. The four letter acronyms become a bit much after a while. It wavers dangerously close to those who are prone to the sirens' call of the #ProductivityPorn space.

      If you've read a handful of the big articles in the note taking, tools for thought, digital gardens, zettelkasten space, Ahren's book, or regularly keep up with r/antinet or r/Zettelkasten, chances are that you'll be sorely disappointed and not find much insight. If you have friends that don't need the horsepower of Ahrens or zettelkasten, then it might be a reasonable substitute, but then it could have been half the length for the reader.

    1. Harness collective intelligence augmented by digital technology, and unlock exponential innovation. Beyond old hierarchical structures and archaic tools.

      https://twitter.com/augmented_CI

      The words "beyond", "hierarchical", and "archaic" are all designed to marginalize prior thought and tools which all work, and are likely upon which this broader idea is built. This is a potentially toxic means of creating "power over" this prior art rather than a more open spirit of "power with".

    1. https://kumu.io/

      Make sense of your messy world. Kumu makes it easy to organize complex data into relationship maps that are beautiful to look at and a pleasure to use.

      tagline:

      The art of mapping is to create a context in which others can think.


      Tool mentioned on [[2022-06-02]] by Jerry Michalski during [[Friends of the Link]] meeting.

  6. May 2022
    1. However, what if we replace “ human face ” in this decisive quotewith “interface,” that is, the interface between man and apparatus?

      This wording seems quite profound.

      It means that by creating a personification of our tools, we can more easily communicate with them.

      Do people personify their computers? I remember in the late 80s and early 90s computer workstations, especially in university settings, having personified names.

      Link this to the personification of rocks w.r.t. talking rocks and oral traditions.

      link to: https://hypothes.is/a/KosdVt1qEeykU2dTuVZT3Q

    2. In a word thatKleist borrows from Kant: a “midwifery of thought.”45
      1. Immanuel Kant, Metaphysik der Sitten, Zweiter Teil, II. Ethische Methodenlehre, 1st Section, §50: “He is the midwife of his thoughts,” on the teacher-student relationship.
    3. a constellation already described in 1805 by Heinrich von Kleist in his fascinat-ing analysis of the “Midwifery of Thought”: “If you want to know something and cannotfind it through meditation, I advise you, my dear, clever friend, to speak about it withthe next acquaintance who bumps into you.” 43 The positive tension that such a conversa-tion immediately elicits through the expectations of the Other obliges one to producenew thought in the conversation. The idea develops during speech. There, the sheeravailability of such a counterpart, who must do nothing further (i.e., offer additionalstimulus through keen contradiction of the speaker) is already enough; “There is a specialsource of excitement, for him who speaks, in the human face across from him; and agaze which already announces a half-expressed thought to be understood often givesexpression to the entire other half.”44
      1. Heinrich von Kleist, “Ü ber die allm ä hliche Verfertigung der Gedanken beim Reden,” in Sämtliche Werke und Briefe. Zweiter Band, ed. Helmut Sembdner (M ü nchen: dtv, 1805/2001), 319 – 324, at 319.
      2. Ibid., 320.

      in 1805 Heinrich von Kleist noted that one can use conversation with another person, even when that person is silent, to come up with solutions or ideas they may not have done on their own.

      This phenomena is borne out in modern practices like the so-called "rubber duck debugging", where a programmer can talk to any imagined listener, often framed as a rubber duck sitting on their desk, and talk through the problem in their code. Invariably, talking through all the steps of the problem will often result in the person realizing what the problem is and allow them to fix it.

      This method of verbal "conversation" obviously was a tool which indigenous oral cultures frequently used despite the fact that they didn't have literacy as a tool to fall back on.

    1. This art of method was understood by Ramus and Ramists as its own efficacious art of memory. InScholae in liberales artes, Ramus is explicit about his disdain for the visual mnemonic rules suggested byclassical sources.“The art of memory,”he counters,“consists entirely in division and composition. If weseek then an art which will divide and compose things, we shall find the art of memory”(qtd. in Yates 233).Ramus thus enfolds the fourth canon into his methodical framework, linking memorization of content withits“division and composition,”that is, with its organization.

      Arrangement and organization definitely have their place and can be helpful. However they may also tend to become too rigid to the point that one's thinking begins to lack creativity and invention. Where is the space for the Llullist arts of combinatorial thought here?

    1. In §§ 4–5, I examine the socio-evolutionary circumstances under which a closed combinatory, such as the one triggered by the Llullian art, was replaced by an open-ended combinatory, such as the one triggered by a card index based on removable entries. In early modernity, improvement in abstraction compelled scholars to abandon the idea that the order of knowledge should mirror the order of nature. This development also implied giving up the use of space as a type of externalization and as the main rule for checking consis-tency.

      F*ck! I've been scooped!

      Apparently I'm not the only one who has noticed this, though I notice that he doesn't cite Frances A. Yates, which would have certainly been the place for having come up with this historical background (at least that's where I found it.)


      The Llullian arts can be more easily practiced with ideas placed on moveable index cards than they might be with ideas stored in one's own memory. Thus the index card as a tool significantly decreases the overhead and provides an easier user interface for permuting one's ideas and combining them. This decrease in mental work appearing at a time of information overload also puts specific pressure on the older use of the art of memory to put it out of fashion.

    1. Active reading to the extreme!

      What a clever innovation building on the ideas of the art of memory and Raymond Llull's combinatoric arts!

      Does this hit all of the areas of Bloom's Taxonomy? I suspect that it does.

      How could it be tied more directly into an active reading, annotating, and note taking practice?

    1. Sometime in 1882, Friedrich Nietzsche bought a typewriter—a Malling-Hansen Writing Ball, to be precise. His vision was failing, and keeping his eyes focused on a page had become exhausting and painful, often bringing on crushing headaches. He had been forced to curtail his writing, and he feared that he would soon have to give it up. The typewriter rescued him, at least for a time. Once he had mastered touch-typing, he was able to write with his eyes closed, using only the tips of his fingers. Words could once again flow from his mind to the page. But the machine had a subtler effect on his work. One of Nietzsche’s friends, a composer, noticed a change in the style of his writing. His already terse prose had become even tighter, more telegraphic. “Perhaps you will through this instrument even take to a new idiom,” the friend wrote in a letter, noting that, in his own work, his “‘thoughts’ in music and language often depend on the quality of pen and paper.”“You are right,” Nietzsche replied, “our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts.” Under the sway of the machine, writes the German media scholar Friedrich A. Kittler , Nietzsche’s prose “changed from arguments to aphorisms, from thoughts to puns, from rhetoric to telegram style.”

      Saving the entire story for context, but primarily for this Marshall McLuhan-esque quote:

      “You are right,” Nietzsche replied, “our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts.”

      I want to know the source of the quote.

    1. There are four essential capabilities that we can rely on a SecondBrain to perform for us:1. Making our ideas concrete.2. Revealing new associations between ideas.3. Incubating our ideas over time.4. Sharpening our unique perspectives.

      Does the system really do each of these? Writing things down for our future selves is the thing that makes ideas concrete, not the system itself. Most notebooks don't reveal new associations, we actively have to do that ourselves via memory or through active search and linking within the system itself. The system may help, but it doesn't automatically create associations nor reveal them. By keeping our ideas in one place they do incubate to some extent, but isn't the real incubation taking place in a diffuse way in our minds to come out later?

    1. Who can integrate bidi links into a larger system, expand in concentric circles, and take them to their logical conclusion — ubiquity across all information surfaces. ... Across Closed Worlds (Chat, Notes, Projects) to Open Worlds (Twitter, Blogs, Feeds) & everything in between The [[wiki link]] is just like #'s and @'s — public-domain innovations in hypertext. But just cause your social app has @'s and #'s doesn't mean people will use it.

      This is a fine sentiment, but a networked version of wikilinks is bound to cause conflicts in folksonomies and issues with sourcing and verifiability. The potential for context collapse is potentially too great to have these scale for this type of knowledge production. One would need to have trusted groups to create usefulness. Search at scale for these is likely to be at issue as well.

      Are the affordances beyond the local scale really any better than current web technologies? What about the potential effects on the commons?

    1. $L(#&$'&$+-41,[*$4'2'+18$081**)--C*Y$*+=4#&+*$=*#$+"#*#$+--8*$+-$8#1)&$"-H$+-$H)'+#Y$4)1HY$1&4$0180=81+#$-&$*"##+*$-.$919#)$+"1+Y$H"#&$08'99#4Y$*+198#4Y$-)$28=#4$+-2#+"#)Y$7#0-C#$1$&-+#7--@V

      What are the differences in the affordances of handwritten notes versus digital notes? Worth making a complete list.

  7. Apr 2022
    1. using rome as a almost a tool to convey information to your future self

      One's note taking is not only a conversation with the text or even the original author, it is also a conversation you're having with your future self. This feature is accelerated when one cross links ideas within their note box with each other and revisits them at regular intervals.


      Example of someone who uses Roam Research and talks about the prevalence of using it as a "conversation with your future self."


      This is very similar to the same patterns that can be seen in the commonplace book tradition, and even in the blogosphere (Cory Doctorow comes to mind), or IndieWeb which often recommends writing on your own website to document how you did things for your future self.

    1. Another visual-mapping tool is Open Knowledge Maps, a service offered by a Vienna-based not-for-profit organization of the same name. It was founded in 2015 by Peter Kraker, a former scholarly-communication researcher at Graz University of Technology in Austria.

      https://openknowledgemaps.org/

      Open Knowledge maps is a visual literature search tool that is based on keywords rather than on a paper's title, author, or DOI. The service was founded in 2015 by Peter Kraker, a former scholarly communication researcher at Graz University of Technology.

    2. In 2019, Smolyansky co-founded Connected Papers, one of a new generation of visual literature-mapping and recommendation tools.

      https://www.connectedpapers.com/

      https://twitter.com/ConnectedPapers


      Something about the name Connected Papers reminds me of the same sort of linking name that Manfred Kuehn gave to his note taking software ConnectedText.

    1. A filing system is indefinitely expandable, rhizomatic (at any point of timeor space, one can always insert a new card); in contradistinction with the sequen-tial irreversibility of the pages of the notebook and of the book, its interiormobility allows for permanent reordering (for, even if there is no narrative conclu-sion of a diary, there is a last page of the notebook on which it is written: its pagesare numbered, like days on a calendar).

      Most writing systems and forms force a beginning and an end, they force a particular structure that is both finite and limiting. The card index (zettelkasten) may have a beginning—there's always a first note or card, but it never has to have an end unless one's ownership is so absolute it ends with the life of its author. There are an ever-increasing number of ways to order a card index, though some try to get around this to create some artificial stability by numbering or specifically ordering their cards. New ideas can be accepted into the index at a multitude of places and are always internally mobile and re-orderable.

      link to Luhmann's works on describing this sort of rhizomatic behavior of his zettelkasten


      Within a network model framing for a zettelkasten, one might define thinking as traversing a graph of idea nodes in a particular order. Alternately it might also include randomly juxtaposing cards and creating links between ones which have similarities. Which of these modes of thinking has a higher order? Which creates more value? Which requires more work?

    2. Not unlike Duchamp’s door that is both open and closed at thesame time, the card file resists the syntagmatic closure of the sentence by sustain-ing the openness of the paradigm.

      Resisting syntagmatic closure

      Ideas placed into a card file or zettelkasten resist syntagmatic closure. Even well-formed structures in a card file can accept, expand, and integrate new ideas.

      Is a zettelkasten ever done?

    1. As Derrida writes ofthe computer, ‘I don’t feel the interposition of the machine as a sortof progress in transparency, univocity, or easiness. Rather, we areparticipating in a partly new plot’ (2005: 21). H
    2. Furthermore,combinatorial logic dictates that the card index is also the wellspringof creativity insofar as it permits expansive possibilities for futureintellectual endeavours (see Hollier, 2005: 40; cf. Krapp, 2006:367).
    3. the card indexis the quintessential structuralist tool in that it simultaneouslycombines the paradigmatic (selection) with the syntagmatic(combination) in one mechanism.
    1. Many famous antique texts are misunderstood and many others have been completely dismissed, all because the literary style in which they were written is unfamiliar today. So argues Mary Douglas in this controversial study of ring composition, a technique which places the meaning of a text in the middle, framed by a beginning and ending in parallel. To read a ring composition in the modern linear fashion is to misinterpret it, Douglas contends, and today’s scholars must reevaluate important antique texts from around the world.Found in the Bible and in writings from as far afield as Egypt, China, Indonesia, Greece, and Russia, ring composition is too widespread to have come from a single source. Does it perhaps derive from the way the brain works? What is its function in social contexts? The author examines ring composition, its principles and functions, in a cross-cultural way. She focuses on ring composition in Homer’s Iliad, the Bible’s book of Numbers, and, for a challenging modern example, Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, developing a persuasive argument for reconstruing famous books and rereading neglected ones.

      Mary Douglas has a fascinating looking text on ring composition, a literary style which puts the meaning of the text in the middle and frames it with the beginning and end which are in parallel.

      Texts like the Bible, Homer, and even Tristram Shandy might be looked at from a different perspective with this lens.


      Suggested to me by Ann Bergin within the context of The Extended Mind

  8. Mar 2022
    1. Orality is a technology or as a tool for thinking.

    2. but i i think the first couple of hundred notes are more like a collection and you look 00:34:29 for um connections and there are some but you remember them because yes the amount where it's where it doesn't surprise you 00:34:43 uh it's more you know where they are and i think the from 500 on um there's a shift um and then you need to uh figure out how to um 00:34:58 find them again so the index or some kind of system becomes more important and i think a couple of thousand notes and uh you're 00:35:12 automatically turning to your set of custom [Music] as the place where you will likely find some kind of connection

      Q: How many permanent notes did it take before you felt you had a communication partner?


      Sönke Ahrens has indicated that the first couple hundred notes are more of a static collection. Then from five hundred notes onward there is a shift and having an index becomes more important. It's only at about one thousand notes that one begins automatically turning to the zettelkasten to find connections. Perhaps it's at this point that the tool begins to look like a communication partner.


      link this to the few other examples from others.

    3. it is a tool for productivity um but i think it's a technology that forces you to [Music] engage more deeply with 00:29:06 the text you're reading

      The zettelkasten is a tool for thought that forces you to engage more deeply with what you're reading.

    1. Powerful tools can support creativity: Innovation can be facilitated by powerful tools that supply templates and support exploratory processes such as brainstorming (offering links to related concepts), state-space expl oration (trying out all permutations), idea combining (systematic pairings), rapid prototyping, and simulation modeling.

      State-space exploration and idea combining (systematic pairings) are just modern reimaginings of ideas going back to Raymond Llull and possibly earlier.

    1. Hands can be a prompt, a window, a way station—butwhat they ought never have to be is still.

      Missing reference in this chapter on encouraging gestures as a tool for thought: "idle hands are the devil's workshop".

      Could the Bible have been encouraging the use of one's hands for communication??

    2. “It is from the attempt of expressing themselves thatunderstanding evolves, rather than the other way around,” he maintains.

      —Woff-Michael Roth

      Actively attempting to express oneself is one of the best methods of evolving one's understanding.

      Link this to the ideas related to being forced to actively manufacture the answer to a question is one of the best ways to learn.

    3. Research shows that people who are asked to write on complex topics,instead of being allowed to talk and gesture about them, end up reasoning lessastutely and drawing fewer inferences.

      Should active reading, thinking, and annotating also include making gestures as a means of providing more clear reasoning, and drawing better inferences from one's material?

      Would gestural movements with a hand or physical writing be helpful in annotation over digital annotation using typing as an input? Is this related to the anecdotal evidence/research of handwriting being a better method of note taking over typing?

      Could products like Hypothes.is or Diigo benefit from the use of digital pens on screens as a means of improving learning over using a mouse and a keyboard to highlight and annotate?

  9. Feb 2022
    1. 9/8g Hinter der Zettelkastentechnik steht dieErfahrung: Ohne zu schreiben kann mannicht denken – jedenfalls nicht in anspruchsvollen,selektiven Zugriff aufs Gedächtnis voraussehendenZusammenhängen. Das heißt auch: ohne Differenzen einzukerben,kann man nicht denken.

      Google translation:

      9/8g The Zettelkasten technique is based on experience: You can't think without writing—at least not in contexts that require selective access to memory.

      That also means: you can't think without notching differences.

      There's something interesting about the translation here of "notching" occurring on an index card about ideas which can be linked to the early computer science version of edge-notched cards. Could this have been a subtle and tangential reference to just this sort of computing?

      The idea isn't new to me, but in the last phrase Luhmann tangentially highlights the value of the zettelkasten for more easily and directly comparing and contrasting the ideas on two different cards which might be either linked or juxtaposed.


      Link to:

      • Graeber and Wengrow ideas of storytelling
      • Shield of Achilles and ekphrasis thesis

      • https://hypothes.is/a/I-VY-HyfEeyjIC_pm7NF7Q With the further context of the full quote including "with selective access to memory" Luhmann seemed to at least to make space (if not give a tacit nod?) to oral traditions which had methods for access to memories in ways that modern literates don't typically give any credit at all. Johannes F.K .Schmidt certainly didn't and actively erased it in Niklas Luhmann’s Card Index: The Fabrication of Serendipity.

    1. Something about Scrivener elicits a lot of strong feelings from people who have used it, both positive and negative. It has a growing community of writers who swear by it, and a parallel community that is tired of hearing all the Scrivener-heads raving about their magic tool.

      Scrivener and its community are an example of a tool for thought being thought of as a magical tool potentially without people thinking about what the tool is doing that makes things so dramatically different.

      This article is written in 2017 just before the expansion of the zettelkasten craze in various social media spaces.

    2. Two things are worth noting here: the nests and the non-linearity. The different layers are nested in structure. Hunches come together to form ideas which come together to form stories. But sequence only becomes critical in the top layers: stories, arguments, chapters. The different between the two stages is like the difference between the pushpin evidence board from The Wire — a scattered network of clues and potential connections—and a prosecutor’s closing statement in a criminal trial.
    1. https://every.to/superorganizers/the-fall-of-roam

      A user talks about why they've stopped using Roam Research.

      I suspect that a lot of people have many of the same issues and to a great extent, it's a result of them not understanding the underlying use cases of the problems they're trying to solve.

      This user is focusing on it solving the problem of where one is placing their data in hopes that it will fix all their problems, but without defining the reason why they're using the tool and what problems they hope for it to solve.

      Note taking is a much broader idea space than many suppose.

    1. Working with the slip-box, therefore, doesn’t mean storinginformation in there instead of in your head, i.e. not learning. On thecontrary, it facilitates real, long-term learning

      The forms of thinking, writing, and elaboration that go into creating permanent notes for a slip box are natural means of facilitating actual, long-term learning.

    2. he best-researched and mostsuccessful learning method is elaboration. It is very similar to whatwe do when we take smart notes and combine them with others,which is the opposite of mere re-viewing (Stein et al. 1984)Elaboration means nothing other than really thinking about themeaning of what we read, how it could inform different questions andtopics and how it could be combined with other knowledge

      Elaboration is thinking deeply about the meaning of what we've read, how it could inform or answer different questions, and how it can be linked or combined with other knowledge. It is one of the best-researched and most successful learning methods. While it seems to have some subtle differences, it sounds broadly similar to the Feynman technique and is related to the idea of writing questions based on one's notes in the Cornell note taking method.

    3. Bjork, Robert A. 2011. “On the Symbiosis of Remembering,Forgetting and Learning.” In Successful Remembering andSuccessful Forgetting: a Festschrift in Honor of Robert A. Bjork,edited by Aaron S. Benjamin, 1–22. New York, NY: PsychologyPress.
    4. This is why choosing an external system that forces us todeliberate practice and confronts us as much as possible with ourlack of understanding or not-yet-learned information is such a smartmove.

      Choosing an external system for knowledge keeping and production forces the learner into a deliberate practice and confronts them with their lack of understanding. This is a large part of the underlying value not only of the zettelkasten, but of the use of a commonplace book which Benjamin Franklin was getting at when recommending that one "read with a pen in your hand". The external system also creates a modality shift from reading to writing by way of thinking which further underlines the value.

      What other building blocks are present in addition to: - modality shift - deliberate practice - confrontation of lack of understanding

      Are there other systems that do all of these as well as others simultaneously?


      link to Franklin quote

    5. While it is obvious that familiarity is not understanding, we have nochance of knowing whether we understand something or just believewe understand something until we test ourselves in some form.

      The Cornell notes practice of writing questions in the empty left column as a means of testing knowledge can be an effective tool after taking notes to ensure that one has actually learned and understood the broad concepts. They can also be used for spaced repetition purposes as well.

      Valuable though they may be as teaching and learning tools, they don't figure directly into the idea of permanent notes from a zettelkasten perspective.

    6. Also, we shouldn’t underestimate the advantages of writing. In oralpresentations, we easily get away with unfounded claims. We candistract from argumentative gaps with confident gestures or drop acasual “you know what I mean” irrespective of whether we knowwhat we meant. In writing, these manoeuvres are a little too obvious.It is easy to check a statement like: “But that is what I said!” Themost important advantage of writing is that it helps us to confrontourselves when we do not understand something as well as wewould like to believe.

      In modern literate contexts, it is easier to establish doubletalk in oral contexts than it is in written contexts as the written is more easily reviewed for clarity and concreteness. Verbal ticks like "you know what I mean", "it's easy to see/show", and other versions of similar hand-waving arguments that indicate gaps in thinking and arguments are far easier to identify in writing than they are in speech where social pressure may cause the audience to agree without actually following the thread of the argument. Writing certainly allows for timeshiting, but it explicitly also expands time frames for grasping and understanding a full argument in a way not commonly seen in oral settings.

      Note that this may not be the case in primarily oral cultures which may take specific steps to mitigate these patterns.

      Link this to the anthropology example from Scott M. Lacy of the (Malian?) tribe that made group decisions by repeating a statement from the lowest to the highest and back again to ensure understanding and agreement.


      This difference in communication between oral and literate is one which leaders can take advantage of in leading their followers astray. An example is Donald Trump who actively eschewed written communication or even reading in general in favor of oral and highly emotional speech. This generally freed him from the need to make coherent and useful arguments.

    7. Separate and Interlocking Tasks

      Chapter 9 of How to Take Smart Notes looks at some of the psychology research involving attention, multitasking, decision making, willpower, concentration, expertise, planning, to highlight the value of the design and structure of the zettelkasten as a positive tool for helping one to be more productive in their thinking and writing work.

    8. The slip-box provides not only a clear structure to work in, but also forces usto shift our attention consciously as we can complete tasks inreasonable time before moving on to the next one.

      Ahrens provides a quick overview of some research on distraction, attention, and multi-tasking to make the point that:

      The simple structure and design of the zettelkasten forces one's focus and attention on small individual tasks that cumulatively build into better thinking and writing.

      (Summary of Section 9.2)

    9. Theseemingly pragmatic and down-to-earth-sounding advice – to decidewhat to write about before you start writing – is therefore eithermisleading or banal.

      Properly framed note taking methods are themselves a hermeneutic circle for thinking and creating.

    10. Every intellectual endeavour starts from an already existingpreconception, which then can be transformed during further inquiresand can serve as a starting point for following endeavours. Basically,that is what Hans-Georg Gadamer called the hermeneutic circle

      (Gadamer 2004).

      All intellectual endeavors start from a preexisting set of ideas. These can then be built upon to create new concepts which then influence the original starting point and may continue ever expanding with further thought.


      Ahrens argues that most writing advice goes against the idea of the hermeneutic circle and pretends as if the writer is starting with a blank page. This can prefigure some of the stress and difficulty Ernest Hemingway spoke of when he compared writing to "facing the white bull which is paper with no words on it."

      While it can be convenient to think of the idea of tabula rasa, in practice it really doesn't exist. As a result the zettelkasten more readily shows its value in the writing process.

    11. Even ifyou decide never to write a single line of a manuscript, you willimprove your reading, thinking and other intellectual skills just bydoing everything as if nothing counts other than writing.

      Is there evidence that this is true?

    12. We need a reliable and simple external structure tothink in that compensates for the limitations of our brains

      Let's be honest that there are certainly methods for doing all of this within our brains and not needing to rely on external structures. This being said, using writing, literacy, and external structures does allow us to process things faster than before.


      Can we calculate what the level of greater efficiency allows for doing this? What is the overall throughput difference in being able to forget and write? Not rely on communication with others? What does a back of the envelope calculation for this look like?

    13. By adding these links between notes, Luhmann was able to addthe same note to different contexts.

      By crosslinking one's notes in a hypertext-like manner one is able to give them many different contexts. This linking and context shifting is a solid method for helping one's ideas to have sex with each other as a means of generating new ideas.


      Is there a relationship between this idea of context shifting and modality shifting? Are these just examples of building blocks for tools of thought? Are they sifts on different axes? When might they be though of as the same? Compare and contrast this further.

    14. a system is neededto keep track of the ever-increasing pool of information, which allowsone to combine different ideas in an intelligent way with the aim ofgenerating new ideas.

      The point of good tools of thought is to allow one to keep track of the ever increasing flood of information that also allows them to juxtapose or combine ideas in novel and interesting ways. Further, this should provide them with a means of generating and then improving upon their new ideas.

    15. A good structure is something you can trust. It relieves you fromthe burden of remembering and keeping track of everything. If youcan trust the system, you can let go of the attempt to hold everythingtogether in your head and you can start focusing on what isimportant:

      Whether it's for writing, to do lists, or other productivity spaces, a well designed system is something that one can put their absolute trust into. This allows one to free themselves from the burden of tracking and dealing with minutiae so they can get serious work done.

    1. https://reallifemag.com/rank-and-file/

      An interesting example of someone who fell into the trap of thinking that a particular tool or tools would magically make them smarter or help them do a particular line of work without showing any deep evidence of knowing what they were doing. The discussion here flows over a number of mixed note taking domains with no clear thrust for what they were using it pointedly for. The multiple directions and lack of experience likely doomed them to failure here.

    2. This is a widespread mistake among those who think that a sexy note-taking app like Roam will suddenly free their minds, or that they can train themselves into geniuses with enough spaced repetition, or that they can build a zettelkasten capable of thinking original thoughts for them.

      Thinking that the tool will solve a particular problem without knowing what the tool does or how to use it properly will surely set one up for failure. You can use a screwdriver like a hammer, but your results won't be as good as using a hammer and using it properly.

    1. As much as I automate things, though,none of my thinking is done by a tool.Even with plugins like Graph Analysis, I never feel like I'm being presented with emergent connections — tho this is what the plugin is intended for, and I believe it works for other people.

      At what point could digital tools be said to be thinking? Do they need to be generative? It certainly needs to be on the other side of serendipitously juxtaposing two interesting ideas. One can juxtapose millions of ideas, it's the selection of a tiny subset of these as "better" or more interesting than the others and then building off of that that constitutes this sort of generative thought.

  10. Jan 2022
    1. https://vimeo.com/232545219

      from: Eyeo Conference 2017

      Description

      Robin Sloan at Eyeo 2017 | Writing with the Machine | Language models built with recurrent neural networks are advancing the state of the art on what feels like a weekly basis; off-the-shelf code is capable of astonishing mimicry and composition. What happens, though, when we take those models off the command line and put them into an interactive writing environment? In this talk Robin presents demos of several tools, including one presented here for the first time. He discusses motivations and process, shares some technical tips, proposes a course for the future — and along the way, write at least one short story together with the audience: all of us, and the machine.

      Notes

      Robin created a corpus using If Magazine and Galaxy Magazine from the Internet Archive and used it as a writing tool. He talks about using a few other models for generating text.

      Some of the idea here is reminiscent of the way John McPhee used the 1913 Webster Dictionary for finding words (or le mot juste) for his work, as tangentially suggested in Draft #4 in The New Yorker (2013-04-22)

      Cross reference: https://hypothes.is/a/t2a9_pTQEeuNSDf16lq3qw and https://hypothes.is/a/vUG82pTOEeu6Z99lBsrRrg from https://jsomers.net/blog/dictionary


      Croatian acapella singing: klapa https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sciwtWcfdH4


      Writing using the adjacent possible.


      Corpus building as an art [~37:00]

      Forgetting what one trained their model on and then seeing the unexpected come out of it. This is similar to Luhmann's use of the zettelkasten as a serendipitous writing partner.

      Open questions

      How might we use information theory to do this more easily?

      What does a person or machine's "hand" look like in the long term with these tools?

      Can we use corpus linguistics in reverse for this?

      What sources would you use to train your model?

      References:

      • Andrej Karpathy. 2015. "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Recurrent Neural Networks"
      • Samuel R. Bowman, Luke Vilnis, Oriol Vinyals, et al. "Generating sentences from a continuous space." 2015. arXiv: 1511.06349
      • Stanislau Semeniuta, Aliaksei Severyn, and Erhardt Barth. 2017. "A Hybrid Convolutional Variational Autoencoder for Text generation." arXiv:1702.02390
      • Soroush Mehri, et al. 2017. "SampleRNN: An Unconditional End-to-End Neural Audio Generation Model." arXiv:1612.07837 applies neural networks to sound and sound production
    1. “One cannot think without writing.” (Luhmann 1992, 53)

      Similar statements have been made by others:

      I could quote Luhmann on this as well, who thought that "without writing one cannot think," But there is nothing peculiarly "Luhmannian" about this idea. Isaac Asimov is said to have said "Writing to me is simply thinking through my fingers." And, to give one other example, E. B. White (of "Strunk and White" fame) claimed that "writing is one way to go about thinking." In other words, writing is thinking. And since I do almost all my significant writing in ConnectedText these days, it might be called my "writing environment."—Manfred Kuehn

      I think this was Luhmann's full quote:

      Ohne zu schreiben, kann man nicht denken; jedenfalls nicht in anspruchsvoller, anschlussfähiger Weise.

      (Translation) You cannot think without writing; at least not in a sophisticated, connectable way.

      Luhmann’s “you” or "one" in his quote is obviously only a Western cultural referent which erases the existence of oral based cultures which have other ways to do their sophisticated thinking. His ignorant framing on the topic shouldn’t be a shared one. Oral cultures managed to do their thinking through speech and memory.

    1. in Luhmann’s mind theprocess of writing things down enables disciplined thinking in the first place: “Underlying the filing tech-nique is the experience that without writing, there is no thinking.”22
      1. Luhmann, Zettelkasten II, index card no. 9/8g (my translation).

      The act of taking notes helps to focus the mind and one's concentration. This facilitates better and deeper thinking. While he erases oral cultures and those who used mnemonic techniques, Niklas Luhmann said, "without writing, there is no thinking."

    1. If we follow the caper star clockwise, starting with “checklist” and signifying just the facts as they are presented, we have ready at hand a way to begin rethinking the types of inquiry proper to certain areas of thought [FIGURE 7]. On the first of the five points then, “checklist,” let us hang journalism, objective accounts, and the raw data of scientific research. On the second, concerning “characters” and their relations, let us place psychology, sociology, anthropology, and politics. The third, at the bottom left, concerning “words,” let us imagine linguistics, philology, rhetoric, and dialectic. The fourth point, “questions,” accommodates philosophy broadly speaking, and the generating of topics and concepts, as well as modes of inquiry, whether inductive or deductive, proper to law and medical research. And finally, the top point, concerning “U” (a tag which stands for “you” as well as the first letter of “universal”), let us place ethics, religion, theology, and practices conducive to reflection and self realization—any means of understanding your place in the world and your stake in the matter under consideration. As the crossing lines of the five-pointed star indicate, all points are interrelated. As for the center, whatever one wants to place there can be illuminated by the five categories broadly conceived as just outlined.
    2. This five-fold approach covers the most fundamental and time-honored categories of thought. Corresponding to the five points on the caper star, they are: (1) the rational process of cause and effect (“x” happened which led to “y” and then “z”); (2) the often irrational nature of human interactions (as Socrates put it: “knowing the better, but doing the worse”); (3) taking stock of the extent to which language is a medium for conveying both sense and transmitting the values of a given culture, (4) the various faces of interrogation (the truism that every news-story must consider and seek to answer: “who? what? where? when? how? and, if possible, why”); and (5) the self-conscious reflection on one’s own point of view (“what we believe to be true is what keeps us from discovering the truth”).
    3. Since spirited leaps of imagination are required for these interactive projects conducing to the gathering of information that can help students make connections they might not otherwise consider, they have been dubbed “capers.”

      Engel calls his system the Caper Star because the "spirited leaps of imagination" are required to help the student on their quest.

    1. One of these tools was the so-called Indice Categorico designed by Emanu-ele Tesauro. Tesauro displayed it as a ‘secret truly secret’ (‘secreto veramente secreto’), that is, as a truly valuable invention. According to Tesauro,72 the matter was to discover topics that were hidden behind several different cat-egories and to compare them to each other (‘penetrar gli obietti altamente ap-piattati sotto diverse Categorie, e di riscontrarli tra loro’) to discover analogies and similarities that would have otherwise been overlooked if everything had been preserved under its own category (‘scovare analogie e somiglianze che sarebbero passate inosservate se ogni cosa fosse rimasta classificata sotto la propria Categoria’). The cognitive device used to achieve this purpose was the metaphor. By listing topics in a jumbled manner under a certain category ac-cording to some similarity in meaning among them, it was possible to produce unexpected results. In short, it was possible to discover something new.

      72 Emanuele Tesauro, Il Cannocchiale aristotelico, 5th ed. (Venice, 1669), 83. On this inven-tion, see also Umberto Eco, Dall’albero al labirinto. Studi storici sul segno e l’interpretazione (Milan, 2007), 45–7.

      Emanuele Tesaurio's Indice Categorico was a tool for thought which aimed to discover new information by using metaphors and analogies with respect to the categories or taxonomies so as to draw links between them.

    2. Here, the card index func-tions as a ‘thinking machine’,67 and becomes the best communication partner for learned men.68

      From a computer science perspective, isn't the index card functioning like an external memory, albeit one with somewhat pre-arranged linked paths? It's the movement through the machine's various paths that is doing the "thinking". Or the user's (active) choices that create the paths creates the impression of thinking.

      Perhaps it's the pre-arranged links where the thinking has already happened (based on "work" put into the system) and then traversing the paths gives the appearance of "new" thinking?

      How does this relate to other systems which can be thought of as thinking from a complexity perspective? Bacteria perhaps? Groups of cells acting in concert? Groups of people acting in concert? Cells seeing out food using random walks? etc?

      From this perspective, how can we break out the constituent parts of thought and thinking? Consciousness? With enough nodes and edges and choices of paths between them (or a "correct" subset of paths) could anything look like thinking or computing?

    1. https://www.goedel.io/p/tools-for-thought-but-not-for-search

      Searching for two ingredients in an effort to find a recipe that will allow their use should be de rigueur in a personal knowledge manager, sadly it doesn't appear to be the case.


      This sort of simple search not working in these tools is just silly.

      They should be able to search across blocks, pages, and even provide graph views to help in this process. Where are all the overlaps of these words within one's database?

    1. Because there’s no need for context/app switching.

      Rebuilding one's earlier context and switching between apps are tremendous sinks of time and energy when writing, thinking, and creating.

      It's better to get as much done as possible in the present so as not to need to do all the work over again later.