10 Matching Annotations
  1. Nov 2023
    1. Taking notes for historical writing .t3_185xmuh._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; } questionI'm trying to understand how to adopt parts of the Zettelkasten method for thinking about historical information. I wrote a PhD in history. My note-taking methodology was a complete mess the whole time. I used note-taking to digest a book, but it would take me two or three times longer than just reading. I would go back over each section and write down the pieces that seemed crucial. Sometimes, when I didn't know a subject well, that could take time. In the end, I would sometimes have many pages of notes in sequential order sectioned the way the book was sectioned, essentially an overlay of the book's structure. It was time-consuming, very hard, not useless at all, but inefficient.Now consider the Zettelkasten idea. I haven't read much of Luhmann. I recall he was a sociologist, a theorist in the grand style. So, in other words, they operate at a very abstract level. When I read about the Zettelkasten method, that's the way it reads to me. A system for combining thoughts and ideas. Now, you'll say that's an artificial distinction, perhaps...a fact is still rendered in thought, has atomicity to it etc. And I agree. However, the thing about facts is there are just A LOT of them. Before you write your narrative, you are drowning in facts. The writing of history is the thing that allows you to bring some order and selectivity to them, but you must drown first; otherwise, you have not considered all the possibilities and potentialities in the past that the facts reveal. To bring it back to Zettelkasten, the idea of Zettel is so appealing, but how does it work when dealing with an overwhelming number of facts? It's much easier to imagine creating a Zettelkasten from more rarefied thoughts provoked by reading.So, what can I learn from the Zettelkasten method? How can I apply some or all of its methodologies, practically speaking? What would change about my initial note-taking of a book if I were to apply Zettelkasten ideas and practice? Here is a discussion about using the method for "facts". The most concrete suggestions here suggest building Zettels around facts in some ways -- either a single fact, or groups of facts, etc. But in my experience, engaging with a historical text is a lot messier than that. There are facts, but also the author's rendering of the facts, and there are quotes (all the historical "gossip"), and it's all in there together as the author builds their narrative. You are trying to identify the key facts, the author's particular angle and interpretation, preserve your thoughts and reactions, and save these quotes, the richest part of history, the real evidence. In short, it is hard to imagine being able to isolate clear Zettel topics amid this reading experience.In Soenke Ahrens' book "How to Take Smart Notes," he describes three types of notes: fleeting notes (these are fleeting ideas), literature notes, and permanent notes. In that classification, I'm talking about "literature notes." Ahrens says these should be "extremely selective". But with the material I'm talking about it becomes a question. How can you be selective when you still don't know which facts you care about or want to maintain enough detail in your notes so you don't foreclose the possibilities in the historical narrative too early?Perhaps this is just an unsolvable problem. Perhaps there is no choice but to maintain a discipline of taking "selective" literature notes. But there's something about the Zettelkasten method that gives me the feeling that my literature notes could be more detailed and chaotic and open to refinement later.Does my dilemma explained here resonate with anyone who has tried this method for intense historical writing? If so, I'd like to hear you thoughts, or better yet, see some concrete examples of how you've worked.

      reply to u/ethanzanemiller at https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/185xmuh/taking_notes_for_historical_writing/

      Rather than spending time theorizing on the subject, particularly since you sound like you're neck-deep already, I would heartily recommend spending some time practicing it heavily within the area you're looking at. Through a bit of time and experience, more of your questions will become imminently clear, especially if you're a practicing historian.

      A frequently missing piece to some of this puzzle for practicing academics is upping the level of how you read and having the ability to consult short pieces of books and articles rather than reading them "cover-to-cover" which is often unnecessary for one's work. Of particular help here, try Adler and Van Doren, and specifically their sections on analytical and syntopical reading.

      • Adler, Mortimer J., and Charles Van Doren. How to Read a Book: The Classical Guide to Intelligent Reading. Revised and Updated ed. edition. 1940. Reprint, Touchstone, 2011.

      In addition to the list of practicing historians I'd provided elsewhere on the topic, you might also appreciate sociologist Beatrice Webb's short appendix C in My Apprenticeship or her longer related text. She spends some time talking about handling dates and the database nature of querying collected facts and ideas to do research and to tell a story.

      Also helpful might be Mill's article which became a chapter in one of his later books:

      Perhaps u/danallosso may have something illuminating to add, or you can skim through his responses on the subject on Reddit or via his previous related writing: https://danallosso.substack.com/.

      Enough historians and various other humanists have been practicing these broad methods for centuries to bear out their usefulness in researching and organizing their work. Read a bit, but truly: practice, practice, and more practice is going to be your best friend here.

    1. Can you provide any more information about how this method works in detail?

      reply to u/ethanzanemiller at https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/1843k2w/comment/kb4d882/?utm_source=reddit&utm_medium=web2x&context=3

      Presuming you came into this from a search on "history" or a related topic rather than long time experience in this sub?

      A card index, fichier boîte (French), or zettelkasten (German) is broadly the use of index cards (or digital versions) for research and writing. (I generally frame it as an extension of keeping a commonplace book.)

      But some of it is best described within the area of "historical method" by practicing historians themselves, so also try these texts written by historians on the subject:

      Allosso, Dan, and S. F. Allosso. How to Make Notes and Write. Minnesota State Pressbooks, 2022. https://minnstate.pressbooks.pub/write/.

      Barzun, Jacques. The Modern Researcher. Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., 1992. http://archive.org/details/modernresearcher00barz_1.

      Dow, Earle Wilbur. Principles of a Note-System for Historical Studies. New York: Century Company, 1924.

      Eco, Umberto. How to Write a Thesis. Translated by Caterina Mongiat Farina and Geoff Farina. 1977. Reprint, Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press, 2015. https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/how-write-thesis.

      Gottschalk, Louis Reichenthal. Understanding History: A Primer of Historical Method. 1st ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1950. https://www.amazon.com/Understanding-History-Louis-Gottschalk/dp/B001OY27L6.

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

      Langlois, Charles Victor, and Charles Seignobos. Introduction to the Study of History. Translated by George Godfrey Berry. First. New York: Henry Holt and company, 1898. http://archive.org/details/cu31924027810286.

      Margolin, Victor. The Process of Writing World History of Design, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kxyy0THLfuI.

      Thomas, Keith. “Diary: Working Methods.” London Review of Books, June 10, 2010. https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v32/n11/keith-thomas/diary.

      Maybe start with Keith Thomas and Margolin which are short and then jump to either Goutor or Allosso (first half of that text) which are slightly longer but still quick reads. Umberto Eco may be the dean of studies here, though Barzun has been fairly influential. If you prefer, you can practice Luhmann's method, which is very similar though with a twist, and laid out at https://zettelkasten.de/posts/overview/.

  2. Sep 2023
  3. Aug 2023
    1. other jokes did not land because I did not know the movie star or celebrity referenced.
    2. The main thing I learned while reading through Phyllis Diller's jokes is that comedy has changed a lot since she started her career in the mid-1950s. Her comedy is focused on short one-liners that get laughs in quick succession, while today's comedy is more story-driven. Although a lot of her jokes are very time-bound due to their content, it was interesting to get a glimpse of what was happening at the time a joke was written. Each joke card has a date on it, and the cards span the 1960s to the 1990s. The topic of the jokes told a lot about what people were worried about or focused on at the time the joke was written, whether it was the inflation or student protests of the 1970s, a celebrity's many marriages, or gossip about the president at the time. While, like any comedian, some of her jokes fall flat, I appreciated Diller's hard work in meticulously recording, testing, and filing each joke in the gag file, along with her ability to make a joke about almost any topic.

      evidence of comedy shift from 50s/60s of one liners to more story-based comedy of the 2000s onward. Some of this may come about through idea links or story links as seen in some of Diller's paperclipped cards (see https://hypothes.is/a/W9Wz-EXsEe6nZxew_8BUCg).

    1. BookmarkZettelkasten for historical research?

      @pgrhowarth @MartinBB @tevka and other historians (and sociologists, anthropologists, humanists, etc.) who want to delve into some of the ideas of historical method, zettelkasten, note taking, intellectual craftsmanship outside of Luhmann's version, I've compiled a list of various primary sources who have written on a variety of related methods throughout the past few hundred years: https://www.zotero.org/chrisaldrich/tags/note%20taking%20methods/items/KTZXN3EV/item-list

      Historians in particular have used indexing their notes as a means of creating analog databases for individual facts outside of their other writing/compiling practices. Thus a mixture of methods may suit your working needs.

      To help frame it one might also consult the following: * Thomas, Keith. “Diary: Working Methods.” London Review of Books, June 10, 2010. https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v32/n11/keith-thomas/diary. * Blair, Ann M. Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age. Yale University Press, 2010. https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300165395/too-much-know.

      I've got a relatively short overview of some of these methods and examples of users at https://boffosocko.com/2022/10/22/the-two-definitions-of-zettelkasten/.

  4. Apr 2023
  5. Mar 2023
    1. TheSateliteCombinationCard IndexCabinetandTelephoneStand

      A fascinating combination of office furniture types in 1906!

      The Adjustable Table Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan manufactured a combination table for both telephones and index cards. It was designed as an accessory to be stood next to one's desk to accommodate a telephone at the beginning of the telephone era and also served as storage for one's card index.

      Given the broad business-based use of the card index at the time and the newness of the telephone, this piece of furniture likely was not designed as an early proto-rolodex, though it certainly could have been (and very well may have likely been) used as such in practice.

      I totally want one of these as a side table for my couch/reading chair for both storing index cards and as a temporary writing surface while reading!

      This could also be an early precursor to Twitter!

      Folks have certainly mentioned other incarnations: - annotations in books (person to self), - postcards (person to person), - the telegraph (person to person and possibly to others by personal communication or newspaper distribution)

      but this is the first version of short note user interface for both creation, storage, and distribution by means of electrical transmission (via telephone) with a bigger network (still person to person, but with potential for easy/cheap distribution to more than a single person)

  6. Feb 2023
    1. Fred Morrow Flingwrote effusively of the ‘manifest advantages’ of the ‘card system of note taking’

      from<br /> Fling, F. M. (1920) The Writing of History: An Introduction to Historical Method. New Haven: Yale University Press.

  7. Jan 2023
    1. My plan is to make some sort of physical timeline eventually, but while analog does feel a little "fixed" for this purpose, I want the shear size and the speed of cards.Do you happen to know what historians used to do before computers?

      reply to u/stjeromeslibido at https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/10nlu4l/comment/j6bdgma/?utm_source=reddit&utm_medium=web2x&context=3

      I've used data from my own cards to create timelines before using the Knightlab's TimelineJS tool: https://cdn.knightlab.com/libs/timeline3/latest/embed/index.html?source=18QD2-Kx0WdFBzqDv1sTkQWOJLGHGXsvr4NBLYNiX9FA&font=Default&lang=en&initial_zoom=2&height=650%27%20width=%27100%%27%20height=%27650%27%20webkitallowfullscreen%20mozallowfullscreen%20allowfullscreen%20frameborder=%270%27

      You'll note that it's got a fun card-like flavor to its design. 🤩

      Historically, while they had certainly done so much earlier, historians began doubling down on slip-based research work flows in the late 1800's. Many in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were heavily influenced by the idea of "historical method" or the German "Wissenschaftlichen Arbeitens". Primary sources going back over a century have included:

      • Bernheim, Ernst. Lehrbuch der historischen Methode und der Geschichtsphilosophie : mit Nachweis der wichtigsten Quellen und Hilfsmittelzum Studium der Geschichte ... völlig neu bearbeitete und vermehrte Auflage. 1889. Reprint, Leipzig : Duncker, 1903. http://archive.org/details/lehrbuchderhisto00bernuoft.
      • Langlois, Charles Victor, and Charles Seignobos. Introduction to the Study of History. Translated by George Godfrey Berry. First. New York: Henry Holt and company, 1898. http://archive.org/details/cu31924027810286.
      • Dow, Earle Wilbur. Principles of a Note-System for Historical Studies. New York: Century Company, 1924.
      • Barzun, Jacques, and Henry F. Graff. The Modern Researcher. New York, Harcourt, Brace, 1957. http://archive.org/details/modernreseracher0000unse.
      • Eco, Umberto. How to Write a Thesis. Translated by Caterina Mongiat Farina and Geoff Farina. 1977. Reprint, Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press, 2015. https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/how-write-thesis.

      A few prime examples of historians practicing this sort of card index method (though not necessarily in the same form as Niklas Luhmann) include:

      Margolin's short video is particularly lovely for its incredible depth despite its brevity.

      Beyond this there is also a very rich history of sociologists, anthropologists, philosophers, linguists, and others in the humanities using similar methods.

      Beatrice Webb has a fairly good description of how she created her "scientific notes" in the late 1880/1890s in a database-like fashion in the appendix to her memoir My Apprenticeship and expanded on some of the ideas in a more specific text a few years later.

      • Webb, Beatrice. My Apprenticeship. First Edition. New York: Longmans, Green & Co., 1926.
      • Webb, Sidney, and Beatrice Webb. Methods of Social Study. London; New York: Longmans, Green & Co., 1932. http://archive.org/details/b31357891.