526 Matching Annotations
  1. Last 7 days
    1. https://edward-slingerland.medium.com/there-is-only-one-way-to-write-a-book-637535ef5bde

      Example of someone's research, note taking, and writing process using index cards.

      Broadly, this is very similar to the process used by Ryan Holiday, Robert Green, and Victor Margolin.

      While he can't recall the name of the teacher, he credits his 7th grade English teacher (1980-1981) for teaching him the method.


      Edward Slingerland is represented by Brockman Inc.

    2. That sounds challenging, of course, but I find that the writing, at this stage, is actually relatively easy: the card organization has already done most of the work. The cards tell the story, you now just need to (skillfully!) weave them together.

      Anecdotal evidence that the final "writing" portion of a card index process is "relatively easy" as the majority of the work has already been done.

    3. This is the absolute hardest part of the writing process, in my mind. The most exciting, too, because you’re never quite sure where it’s going to end up.

      Anecdotal evidence that categorizing and arranging index cards/ideas for a writing project for subsequent writing is one of the most difficult portions of the process.

      Niklas Luhmann subverted portions of this by pre-linking his ideas together either in threads or an outline form as he went.

    4. I’ve also got a vague sense in my head of how they should be organized — that is, what the structure of the book is going to be. This is generally when I write the formal book proposal. I know enough about the topic, now, that I have a good idea of what my central arguments are going to be and how I am going to organize the chapters.

      At what point in the process does one have a conceptualization for the overall outline of what they're writing?

      In cases where it's earlier than others, then heavy linking and organization may not be as necessary.

    5. I continued to use this analog method right up through my Ph.D. dissertation and first monograph. After a scare in the early stages of researching my second monograph, when I thought all of my index cards had been lost in a flood, I switched to an electronic version: a Word doc containing a table with four cells that I can type or paste information into (and easily back up).
    6. I have a very specific method for organizing my research and thoughts whenever I’m writing anything longer than a short article. I learned this method from a teacher in middle school, and I cannot imagine how a human being could write a book any other way.

      Example of someone who learned an index card based commonplace book method for note taking and writing.

    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-Wp0sLpnMY

      PVA Glue used in bookbinding, but isn't inexpensive.

      • Tacky glue - okay
      • rubber cement - not great
      • elmer's glue - not great, tears esp. for 2 layers
      • Mod podge - pulls nicely and strong
      • mod podge hard shell - cracks, not great
      • PVA Glue - the best of the group

      Recommendations in order: PVA, Tacky Glue, Mod Podge (regular)

      Brush on top edge and do two coats. Don't get it down between sheets.

  2. Nov 2022
    1. Victor Margolin's note taking and writing process

      • Collecting materials and bibliographies in files based on categories (for chapters)
      • Reads material, excerpts/note making on 5 x 7" note cards
        • Generally with a title (based on visual in video)
        • excerpts have page number references (much like literature notes, the refinement linking and outlining happens separately later in his mapping and writing processes)
        • filed in a box with tabbed index cards by chapter number with name
        • video indicates that he does write on both sides of cards breaking the usual rule to write only on one side
      • Uses large pad of newsprint (roughly 18" x 24" based on visualization) to map out each chapter in visual form using his cards in a non-linear way. Out of the diagrams and clusters he creates a linear narrative form.
      • Tapes diagrams to wall
      • Writes in text editor on computer as he references the index cards and the visual map.

      "I've developed a way of working to make this huge project of a world history of design manageable."<br /> —Victor Margolin

      Notice here that Victor Margolin doesn't indicate that it was a process that he was taught, but rather "I've developed". Of course he was likely taught or influenced on the method, particularly as a historian, and that what he really means to communicate is that this is how he's evolved that process.

      "I begin with a large amount of information." <br /> —Victor Margolin

      "As I begin to write a story begins to emerge because, in fact, I've already rehearsed this story in several different ways by getting the information for the cards, mapping it out and of course the writing is then the third way of telling the story the one that will ultimately result in the finished chapters."<br /> —Victor Margolin

    1. A quick and dirty guide to choosing "slow carbs" (low GLI) and "fast carbs" (high GLI). Purportedly, insulin spikes (from high GLI foods) and prevent amino acids from entering the blood brain barrier. Need to fact-check this

    1. Fifty years ago, coinciding with the centennial of the release of Darwin’s manuscript, author Morse Peckham collected all six editions into a single “variorum” text. Peckham painstakingly created a reference system that denotes the modifications and changes between editions. The text was created by Peckham’s careful enumeration of every sentence from every edition, copied onto index cards; from these cards, he carefully assembled them into a final text.
    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ueMHkGljK0

      Robert Greene's method goes back to junior high school when he was practicing something similar. He doesn't say he invented it, and it may be likely that teachers modeled some of the system for him. He revised the system over time to make it work for himself.


      • [x] Revisit this for some pull quotes and fine details of his method. (Done on 2022-11-08)
    2. Origin of Robert Greene's (May 14, 1959 - ) note taking system using index cards:<br /> Greene didn't recall a specific origin of his practices, but did mention that his mom found some index cards at his house from a junior high school class. (Presuming a 12 year old 7th grader, this would be roughly from 1971.) Ultimately when he wrote 48 Laws of Power, he was worried about being overwhelmed with his notes and ideas in notebooks. He naturally navigated to note cards as a solution.

      Uses about 50 cards per chapter.

      His method starts by annotating his books as he reads them. A few weeks later, he revisits these books and notes to transfer his ideas to index cards. He places a theme on the top of each card along with a page number of the original reference.

      He has kept much the same system as he started with though it has changed a bit over time.

      You're either a prisoner of your material or a master of your material.

      This might not be the best system ever created, but it works for me.

      When looking through a corpus of cards for a project, Robert Greene is able to make note of the need to potentially reuse a card within a particular work if necessary. The fact that index cards are inherently mobile within his projects make them easy to move and reuse.

      I haven't heard in either Robert Greene or Ryan Holiday's practices evidence that they reuse notes or note cards from one specific project to the next. Based on all the evidence I've seen, they maintain individual collections for each book project for which they're developing.

      [...] like a chameleon [the index card system is] constantly changing colors or [like] something that's able to change its shape at will. This whole system can change its shape as I direct it.

    3. Robert Greene: (pruriently) "You want to see my index cards?"<br /> Brian Rose: (curiously) Yeah. Can we?? ... This is epic! timestamp

    1. You should also be able to placethe book even more accurately than before in your mental cardcatalogue, for further reference if the occasion should everarise.

      use of "mental card catalogue" as memory

    1. A commonplace book is what a provident poet cannot subsist without, for this proverbial, reason, that "great wits have short memories;" and whereas, on the other hand, poets, being liars by profession, ought to have good memories; to reconcile these, a book of this sort, is in the nature of a supplemental memory, or a record of what occurs remarkable in every day's reading or conversation. There you enter not only your own original thoughts, (which, a hundred to one, are few and insignificant) but such of other men, as you think fit to make your own, by entering them there. For, take this for a rule, when an author is in your books, you have the same demand upon him for his wit, as a merchant has for your money, when you are in his. By these few and easy prescriptions, (with the help of a good genius) it is possible you may, in a short time, arrive at the accomplishments of a poet, and shine in that character[3].

      "Nullum numen abest si sit prudentia, is unquestionably true, with regard to every thing except poetry; and I am very sure that any man of common understanding may, by proper culture, care, attention, and labour, make himself whatever he pleases, except a good poet." Chesterfield, Letter lxxxi.

      See also: https://en.m.wikisource.org/wiki/Page:The_Works_of_the_Rev._Jonathan_Swift,_Volume_5.djvu/261 as a source


      Swift, Jonathan. The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift. Edited by Thomas Sheridan and John Nichols. Vol. 5. 19 vols. London: H. Baldwin and Son, 1801.

    1. From the beginning I found myself deeply challenged and stuck — freaked out by the blank page. So I started to use my skills as a filmmaker. I note-carded it. I had the notes above my computer, and I got to do a little “X” when I finished the draft of a chapter; it was this really satisfying moment.

      Erin Lee Carr talks about using index cards to write a book about her father, but her practice sounds more like index cards with headings as a means of structuring a story and not actually writing the entire work out on cards.

    2. <small><cite class='h-cite via'> <span class='p-author h-card'>Billy Oppenheimer</span> in The Notecard System: Capture, Organize, and Use Everything You Read, Watch, and Listen To (<time class='dt-published'>11/03/2022 16:53:44</time>)</cite></small>

    1. Ronald Reagan notecard

    2. 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.

    3. He has a warehouse of notecards with ideas and stories and quotes and facts and bits of research, which get pulled and pieced together then proofread and revised and trimmed and inspected and packaged and then shipped.

      While the ancients thought of the commonplace as a storehouse of value or a treasury, modern knowledge workers and content creators might analogize it to a factory where one stores up ideas in a warehouse space where they can be easily accessed, put into a production line where those ideas can be assembled, revised, proofread, and then package and distributed to consumers (readers).

      (summary)

    4. If you are like Lebron James or Paul Simon, if you were born with a gift for recall, you might not need a note-taking system.

      I would suggest that this is wholly wrong as both of the memories described are honed for specific situations and not broadly applicable.

      Even those with good natural memories as well as those with significant mnemonic practices can benefit from a structured note taking practice.

    5. In this article, I am going to explain my adapted version of the notecard system.

      Note that he explicitly calls out that his is an adapted version of a preexisting thing--namely a system that was taught to Ryan Holiday who was taught by Robert Greene.

      Presumably there is both some economic and street cred value for the author/influencer in claiming his precedents.

      It's worth noting that he mentions other famous users, though only the smallest fraction of them with emphasis up front on his teachers whose audience he shares financially.

    6. The Notecard System

      This is almost pitched as a product with the brand name "The Notecard System".

    1. "If the Reagans' home in Palisades (Calif.) were burning," Brinkley says, "this would be one of the things Reagan would immediately drag out of the house. He carried them with him all over like a carpenter brings their tools. These were the tools for his trade."

      Another example of someone saying that if their house were to catch fire, they'd save their commonplace book (first or foremost).

    1. It's not an exaggeration: Nearly every dollar I've made in my adult life was earned first on the back or front (or both) of an index card.Everything I do, I do on index cards.
    1. https://www.instagram.com/p/CeWV6xBuZUN/?hl=en

      Ryan Holiday in the past has made custom 4 x 6" index cards for taking notes for his individual projects.

      Pictured: A custom slip with 11 light gray lines, small margins all around, and at the top the printed words: "Courage. Temperance. Justice. Wisdom."

      <small><cite class='h-cite via'> <span class='p-author h-card'>Billy Oppenheimer, research assistant to Ryan Holiday</span> in The Notecard System: Capture, Organize, and Use Everything You Read, Watch, and Listen To - Billy Oppenheimer (<time class='dt-published'>11/03/2022 16:53:44</time>)</cite></small>

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      I used to do this sort of practice before, but I used buckslips instead.

    1. raphy. Surely the fault of that savant was not neglecbut over-confidence in the virtue of the fiche, and the true morthat there is no necessary salvation in the fiche and the card-indTh

      Surely the fault of that savant was not neglect, but over-confidence in the virtue of the fiche [index card], and the true moral is that there is no necessary salvation in the fiche and the card-index [aka zettelkasten].

      Here the author is referencing part of the preface of Anatole France's book Penguin Island (1908) where a scholar drowns in a whirlpool of index cards.

      see: https://hypothes.is/a/rYHu0FQZEe2mm4_z4pvWLw

  3. Oct 2022
    1. On the whole, his efficiency probablyreduced the time required for taking and filing notes to the amountother historians spent in note-taking alone. What he wrote in hisnotes was brief, and yet specific enough so that he saved himself thejob of searching at length for what he had read. His mind was freeto reflect and appraise.

      Earl Pomeroy suggests that Paxson's note taking method freed his mind to better reflect and appraise his work. This allows a greater efficiency of work, particularly when it comes to easier search and recall as well as the overall process which becomes easier through practice.

    2. he also put the scraps to-gether into patterns that fascinated his students.
    3. None of these notes wasever used in his writing; probably they were taken with no thoughtof specific use, but out of absorption in the American scene.

      It's quite likely that one will take a large number of notes with no immediate goal or plan for use and this is completely acceptable. Often these notes go towards the more immediate goal of forming one's own understanding and setting of a broader tableau for material one will write in the future.

    4. he three-by-five inch slipsof thin paper eventually filled about eighty wooden file drawers.And he classified the notes day by day, under topical-chronologicalheadings that eventually extended from 4639 B.C. to 1949, theyear after his death.

      Frederic L. Paxson kept a collection of 3 x 5 " slips of thin paper that filled eighty wooden file drawers which he organized using topical-chronologic headings spanning 4639 BCE to 1949.

    1. I feel sympathy for Robert Southey, whose excerpts from his voracious reading were posthumously published in four volumes as Southey’s Common-Place Book. He confessed in 1822 that,Like those persons who frequent sales, and fill their houses with useless purchases, because they may want them some time or other; so am I for ever making collections, and storing up materials which may not come into use till the Greek Calends. And this I have been doing for five-and-twenty years! It is true that I draw daily upon my hoards, and should be poor without them; but in prudence I ought now to be working up these materials rather than adding to so much dead stock.
    2. Since Anatole France’s description in Penguin Island of the scholar drowned by an avalanche of his own index cards, it has been hard to take them seriously.

      In Penguin Island, Anatole France describes a scholar drowned by an avalanche of their own index cards!

    3. Before the Xerox machine, this was a labour-intensive counsel of perfection; and it is no wonder that many of the great 19th-century historians employed professional copyists.

      According to Keith Thomas, "many of the great 19th-century historians employed professional copyists" as a means of keeping up with filing copies of their note slips under multiple subject headings.

    1. Les murs du cabinet de travail, le plancher, le plafond même portaient des liasses débordantes, des cartons démesurément gonflés, des boîtes où se pressait une multitude innombrable de fiches, et je contemplai avec une admiration mêlée de terreur les cataractes de l'érudition prêtes à se rompre. —Maître, fis-je d'une voix émue, j'ai recours à votre bonté et à votre savoir, tous deux inépuisables. Ne consentiriez-vous pas à me guider dans mes recherches ardues sur les origines de l'art pingouin? —Monsieur, me répondit le maître, je possède tout l'art, vous m'entendez, tout l'art sur fiches classées alphabétiquement et par ordre de matières. Je me fais un devoir de mettre à votre disposition ce qui s'y rapporte aux Pingouins. Montez à cette échelle et tirez cette boîte que vous voyez là-haut. Vous y trouverez tout ce dont vous avez besoin. J'obéis en tremblant. Mais à peine avais-je ouvert la fatale boîte que des fiches bleues s'en échappèrent et, glissant entre mes doigts, commencèrent à pleuvoir. Presque aussitôt, par sympathie, les boîtes voisines s'ouvrirent et il en coula des ruisseaux de fiches roses, vertes et blanches, et de proche en proche, de toutes les boîtes les fiches diversement colorées se répandirent en murmurant comme, en avril, les cascades sur le flanc des montagnes. En une minute elles couvrirent le plancher d'une couche épaisse de papier. Jaillissant de leurs inépuisables réservoirs avec un mugissement sans cesse grossi, elles précipitaient de seconde en seconde leur chute torrentielle. Baigné jusqu'aux genoux, Fulgence Tapir, d'un nez attentif, observait le cataclysme; il en reconnut la cause et pâlit d'épouvante. —Que d'art! s'écria-t-il. Je l'appelai, je me penchai pour l'aider à gravir l'échelle qui pliait sous l'averse. Il était trop tard. Maintenant, accablé, désespéré, lamentable, ayant perdu sa calotte de velours et ses lunettes d'or, il opposait en vain ses bras courts au flot qui lui montait jusqu'aux aisselles. Soudain une trombe effroyable de fiches s'éleva, l'enveloppant d'un tourbillon gigantesque. Je vis durant l'espace d'une seconde dans le gouffre le crâne poli du savant et ses petites mains grasses, puis l'abîme se referma, et le déluge se répandit sur le silence et l'immobilité. Menacé moi-même d'être englouti avec mon échelle, je m'enfuis à travers le plus haut carreau de la croisée.

      France, Anatole. L’Île Des Pingouins. Project Gutenberg 8524. 1908. Reprint, Project Gutenberg, 2005. https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/8524/pg8524.html

      Death by Zettelkasten!!

      (Coming soon to a theater near you...)

      In the preface to the novel Penguin Island (L'Île des Pingouins. Calmann-Lévy, 1908) by Nobel prize laureate Anatole France, a scholar is drowned by an avalanche of index cards which formed a gigantic whirlpool streaming out of his card index (Zettelkasten).

      Link to: Historian Keith Thomas has indicated that he finds it hard to take using index cards for excerpting and research seriously as a result of reading this passage in the satire Penguin Island.<br /> https://hypothes.is/a/rKAvtlQCEe2jtzP3LmPlsA


      Translation via: France, Anatole. Penguin Island. Translated by Arthur William Evans. 8th ed. 1908. Reprint, New York, NY, USA: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1922. https://www.google.com/books/edition/Penguin_Island/6UpWAvkPQaEC?hl=en&gbpv=0

      Small changes in the translation by me, comprising only adding the word "index" in front of the occurrences of card to better represent the historical idea of fiches used by scholars in the late 1800s and early 1900s, are indicated in brackets.

      The walls of the study, the floor, and even the ceiling were loaded with overflowing bundles, paste board boxes swollen beyond measure, boxes in which were compressed an innumerable multitude of small [index] cards covered with writing. I beheld in admiration mingled with terror the cataracts of erudition that threatened to burst forth.

      “Master,” said I in feeling tones, “I throw myself upon your kindness and your knowledge, both of which are inexhaustible. Would you consent to guide me in my arduous researches into the origins of Penguin art?"

      “Sir," answered the Master, “I possess all art, you understand me, all art, on [index] cards classed alphabetically and in order of subjects. I consider it my duty to place at your disposal all that relates to the Penguins. Get on that ladder and take out that box you see above. You will find in it everything you require.”

      I tremblingly obeyed. But scarcely had I opened the fatal box than some blue [index] cards escaped from it, and slipping through my fingers, began to rain down.

      Almost immediately, acting in sympathy, the neighbouring boxes opened, and there flowed streams of pink, green, and white [index] cards, and by degrees, from all the boxes, differently coloured [index] cards were poured out murmuring like a waterfall on a mountain-side in April. In a minute they covered the floor with a thick layer of paper. Issuing from their in exhaustible reservoirs with a roar that continually grew in force, each second increased the vehemence of their torrential fall. Swamped up to the knees in cards, Fulgence Tapir observed the cataclysm with attentive nose. He recognised its cause and grew pale with fright.

      “ What a mass of art! ” he exclaimed.

      I called to him and leaned forward to help him mount the ladder which bent under the shower. It was too late. Overwhelmed, desperate, pitiable, his velvet smoking-cap and his gold-mounted spectacles having fallen from him, he vainly opposed his short arms to the flood which had now mounted to his arm-pits . Suddenly a terrible spurt of [index] cards arose and enveloped him in a gigantic whirlpool. During the space of a second I could see in the gulf the shining skull and little fat hands of the scholar; then it closed up and the deluge kept on pouring over what was silence and immobility. In dread lest I in my turn should be swallowed up ladder and all I made my escape through the topmost pane of the window.

    1. As an example, in The Crown season 1 episode 4 “Act of God” (Netflix, 2016) there is a scene portraying former British Prime Minister Clement Atlee in his office in which he is prominently bookended in the background by two four drawer card indexes: one 3 x 5″ and the other 4 x 6″.

      This example comes directly from my notes: https://hypothes.is/a/Cz7e_lHKEe2Qv79IbEgmNw

    1. I can't quite grasp this concept, although it seems interesting for my specific case. Isn't the index box supposed to be organized by alphabetical order? How can personal notes be placed right in such an order?

      los2pollos reply to: https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/y5un81/comment/it667sq/?utm_source=reddit&utm_medium=web2x&context=3

      There are a wide variety of methods of organizing and sorting one's note cards including by topic (usually alphabetical), by date, by idea, by author, by title, etc.

      If you're using it as a diary, you'd probably keep that subsection in order by date written, and then potentially have it cross indexed by subject if those things were important to you.

      If you kept other information like mood, health, activities, exercise, glasses of water per day (for example) on them, you could resort and re-order them by those data as well if you liked. And naturally, this ability to resort/reorder one's notes has been one of the greatest features and affordances to these systems historically.

    2. Memorization is not about a language, rather about a feeling you have about information. In other words, how deep it resonates with your life. In this sense, I was also exploring the idea that having an Antinet Zettelkasten is almost like having a "diary", not for your personal feelings or emotions, rather for exploring the way in which your entire mind and heart work together over the years in which we discover the world. For me, exploring subjects and studying is an internal discovery.

      in reply to los2pollos<br /> https://www.reddit.com/r/antinet/comments/y5un81/comment/it4jy3c/?utm_source=reddit&utm_medium=web2x&context=3

      You're not the only one to think of a card index as diary. Roland Barthes practiced this as well. His biographer Tiphaine Samoyault came to call it his fichierjournal.

    1. Andere Sammlungen sind ihrem Verwendungszweck nie zugeführt worden. Der Germanist Friedrich Kittler etwa legte Karteikarten zu allen Farben an, die dem Mond in der Lyrik zugeschrieben worden sind. Das Buch dazu könnte jemand mit Hilfe dieser Zettel schreiben.

      machine translation (Google):

      Other collections have never been used for their intended purpose. The Germanist Friedrich Kittler, for example, created index cards for all the colors that were ascribed to the moon in poetry. Someone could write the book about it with the help of these slips of paper.

      Germanist Friedrich Kittler collected index cards with all the colors that were ascribed to the moon in poetry. He never did anything with his collection, but it has been suggested that one could write a book with his research collection.

    1. There is a box stored in the German Literature Archive in Marbach, thewooden box Hans Blumenberg kept in a fireproof steel cabinet, for it con-tained his collection of about thirty thousand typed and handwritten notecards.1

      Hans Blumenberg's zettelkasten of about thirty thousand typed and handwritten note cards is now kept at the German Literature Archive in Marbach. Blumenberg kept it in a wooden box which he kept in a fireproof steel cabinet.

    1. https://www.loom.com/share/a05f636661cb41628b9cb7061bd749ae

      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?

    1. Sein Nachlass umfasst u. a. Notizen zu allen wichtigen naturphilosophischen Fragen seiner Zeit und Briefwechsel mit seinen Schülern, die sich an den verschiedenen Universitäten des protestantischen Deutschlands und der Niederlande aufhielten. Er schrieb Literaturauszüge, Beobachtungsmitschriften, Vorlesungsvorbereitungen und anderes mehr auf kleine Zettel, von denen heute noch knapp 42.000 in der Stabi erhalten sind.

      machine translation (Google):

      His estate includes i.a. Notes on all important natural-philosophical questions of his time and correspondence with his students who stayed at the various universities in Protestant Germany and the Netherlands. He wrote excerpts from literature, observation notes, lecture preparations and other things on small pieces of paper, of which almost 42,000 are still preserved in the Stabi today.

      Die Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg Carl von Ossietzky (Stabi) houses the almost 42,000 slips of paper from Joachim Jungius' lifetime collection of notes which include excerpts from his reading, observational notes, his lecture preparations, and other miscellaneous notes.

    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dU7efgGEOgk

      I wish he'd gotten into more of the detail of the research and index card making here as that's where most of the work lies. He does show some of his process of laying out and organizing the cards into some sort of sections using 1/3 cut tabbed cards. This is where his system diverges wildly from Luhmann's. He's now got to go through all the cards and do some additional re-reading and organizational work to put them into some sort of order. Luhmann did this as he went linking ideas and organizing them up front. This upfront work makes the back side of laying things out and writing/editing so much easier. It likely also makes one more creative as one is regularly revisiting ideas, juxtaposing them, and potentially generating new ones along the way rather than waiting until the organization stage to have some of this new material "fall out".

    1. Does anyone else work in project-based systems instead? .t3_y2pzuu._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; }

      reply to u/m_t_rv_s__n https://www.reddit.com/r/Zettelkasten/comments/y2pzuu/does_anyone_else_work_in_projectbased_systems/

      Historically, many had zettelkasten which were commonplace books kept on note cards, usually categorized by subject (read: "folders" or "tags"), so you're not far from that original tradition.

      Similar to your work pattern, you may find the idea of a "Pile of Index Cards" (PoIC) interesting. See https://lifehacker.com/the-pile-of-index-cards-system-efficiently-organizes-ta-1599093089 and https://www.flickr.com/photos/hawkexpress/albums/72157594200490122 (read the descriptions of the photos for more details; there was also a related, but now defunct wiki, which you can find copies of on Archive.org with more detail). This pattern was often seen implemented in the TiddlyWiki space, but can now be implemented in many note taking apps that have to do functionality along with search and tags. Similarly you may find those under Tiago Forte's banner "Building a Second Brain" to be closer to your project-based/productivity framing if you need additional examples or like-minded community. You may find that some of Nick Milo's Linking Your Thinking (LYT) is in this productivity spectrum as well. (Caveat emptor: these last two are selling products/services, but there's a lot of their material freely available online.)

      Luhmann changed the internal structure of his particular zettelkasten that created a new variation on the older traditions. It is this Luhmann-based tradition that many in r/Zettelkasten follow. Since many who used the prior (commonplace-based) tradition were also highly productive, attributing output to a particular practice is wrongly placed. Each user approaches these traditions idiosyncratically to get them to work for themselves, so ignore naysayers and those with purist tendencies, particularly when they're new to these practices or aren't aware of their richer history. As the sub-reddit rules indicate: "There is no [universal or orthodox] 'right' way", but you'll find a way that is right for you.

    1. 4. Cite Card Icon : Hat (something above you)Tag : 5th block Quotation, cooking recipe from book, web, tv, anything about someone else’s idea is classified into this class. Important here is distinguishing “your idea (Discovery Card)” and “someone else’s idea (Cite Card)”. Source of the information must be included in the Cite Card. A book, for example, author, year, page(s) are recorded for later use.

      Despite being used primarily as a productivity tool the PoIC system also included some features of personal knowledge management with "discovery cards" and "citation cards". Discovery cards were things which contained one's own ideas while the citation cards were the ideas of others and included bibliographic information. Citation cards were tagged on the 5th block as an indicator within the system.

      Question: How was the information material managed? Was it separate from the date-based system? On first blush it would appear not, nor was there a subject index which would have made it more difficult for one to find data within the system.

    1. Record Card Icon : CircleTag : 2nd block Diary, note, account, health, weather, cook, any kind of records about us belong to this class. An individual record is so tiny and less informative. However, from view point of long time span, these records provide us a useful information because we will find a certain "pattern" between them. A feedback from the pattern improves our daily life.
    1. Discovery Card Icon : Electric Bulb (lightning)Tag : 3rd block Things from my brain, mind, spirit, anything emerge from inside me, are classified into this class. This is the most important and enjoyable cards among the Four Cards. You will see your discoveries emerges in your mind like a water from spring. In fact, the 80% of index cards in my dock is dominated by this Discovery Card.

      These are more similar to zettelkasten and commonplacing traditions. They comprise the majority of the system.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    1. Google "Hawk Sugano" and "PoIC" for the reinvention and updating of a system much in use by the Japanese (Umedao author) and Germans (Buhmann author) in the Sixties and Seventies. Neither of these works has been translated into English...apparently Japan and Germany are jealously holding on to their State Secrets ;)

      This post was via Den https://www.blogger.com/profile/15319877273178044093

      What are these references to Umedao and Buhmann? Quck searches don't yield much. Need to look deeper.

    1. GTD Card Icon : Square (check box)Tag : 4th block. Squared as open-loop first, and filled later as accomplished. The GTD is advanced To-Do system proposed by David Allen. Next action of your project is described and processed through a certain flow. The GTD cards are classified into this class. 4th block is squared as open-loop first, and filled later as accomplished. The percentage of GTD Cards in my dock is less than 5 %.
    1. https://web.archive.org/web/20140708133632/http://unclutterer.com/2014/06/17/the-pile-of-index-cards-poic-system/

      Brief explanation of the Pile of Index Cards system, but without significant depth.

    2. I’m with Iris (and Jane) about the PoIC system — I don’t understand how the system works once it is set up. It’s a shame as it might be very useful. Ideally, I’d like to set it up with notebooks in Evernote instead of actual index cards and boxes (the last thing I need in my life is more paper clutter). That way it would be easily searchable, too).

      As is apparently often in describing new organizing systems (commonplace books, zettelkasten, PoIC, etc.), not everyone is going to understand it the first time, or even understand what is going on or why one would want to use it.

      This post by Susan is such an example.

      Susan does almost immediately grasp that this might be something one could transfer into a digital system however, particularly for the search functionality.

    1. <small><cite class='h-cite via'> <span class='p-author h-card'>Manfred Kuehn</span> in Taking note: Luhmann's Zettelkasten (<time class='dt-published'>08/06/2021 00:16:23</time>)</cite></small>

      Note the use of the edge highlighted taxonomy system used on these cards:

      Similar to the so called high five indexing system I ran across recently.

    1. https://lifehacker.com/the-pile-of-index-cards-system-efficiently-organizes-ta-1599093089

      LifeHacker covers the Hawk Sugano's Pile of Index Cards method, which assuredly helped promote it to the GTD and productivity crowd.

      One commenter notices the similarities to Ryan Holiday's system and ostensibly links to https://thoughtcatalog.com/ryan-holiday/2013/08/how-and-why-to-keep-a-commonplace-book/

      Two others snarkily reference using such a system to "keep track of books in the library [,,,] Sort them out using decimal numbers on index cards in drawers or something..." and "I need to tell my friend Dewey about this! He would run with it." Obviously they see the intellectual precursors and cousins of the method, though they haven't looked at the specifics very carefully.

      One should note that this may have been one of the first systems to mix information management/personal knowledge management with an explicit Getting Things Done set up. Surely there are hints of this in the commonplace book tradition, but are there any examples that go this far?

    1. Posted byu/raphaelmustermann9 hours agoSeparate private information from the outline of academic disciplines? .t3_xi63kb._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; } How does Luhmann deal with private Zettels? Does he store them in a separate category like, 2000 private. Or does he work them out under is topics in the main box.I can´ find informations about that. Anyway, you´re not Luhmann. But any suggestions on how to deal with informations that are private, like Health, Finances ... does not feel right to store them under acadmic disziplines. But maybe it´s right and just a feeling which come´ out how we "normaly" store information.

      I would echo Bob's sentiment here and would recommend you keep that material like this in a separate section or box all together.

      If it helps to have an example, in 2006, Hawk Sugano showed off a version of a method you may be considering which broadly went under the title of Pile of Index Cards (or PoIC) which combined zettelkasten and productivity systems (in his case getting things done or GTD). I don't think he got much (any?!) useful affordances out of mixing the two. In fact, from what I can see looking at later iterations of his work and how he used it, it almost seems like he spent more time and energy later attempting to separate and rearrange them to get use out of the knowledge portions as distinct from the productivity portions.

      I've generally seen people mixing these ideas in the digital space usually to their detriment as well—a practice I call zettelkasten overreach.

    1. there might be a miscellaneous division, which wouldserve as a "tickler" and which might even be equipped with a set ofcalendar guides so that the "follow-up" system may be used.

      An example of a ticker file in the vein of getting things done (GTD) documented using index cards and a card file from 1917. Sounds very familiar to the Pile of Index Cards (PoIC) from the early 2000s.

    2. Sutherland, Lois Gilbert. “The English Teacher’s Card File.” The English Journal 6, no. 2 (1917): 111–12. https://doi.org/10.2307/801508.


      Lois Gilbert Sutherland suggests using a card index system for multiple uses in the classroom including notes, administration, and general productivity.

      There are so many parallels from this to how people are using platforms like Obsidian, Roam Research, and Notion in 2022.

    1. image courtesy hawkexpress on flickr

      Interesting to see the first post on zettelkasten.de in 2013 has a photo of hawkexpress' Pile of Index Cards (PoIC) in it.

      This obviously means that Christian Tietze had at least a passing familiarity with that system, though it differed structurally from Luhmann's version of zettelkasten.

    1. Underlining Keyterms and Index Bloat .t3_y1akec._2FCtq-QzlfuN-SwVMUZMM3 { --postTitle-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postTitleLink-VisitedLinkColor: #9b9b9b; --postBodyLink-VisitedLinkColor: #989898; }

      Hello u/sscheper,

      Let me start by thanking you for introducing me to Zettelkasten. I have been writing notes for a week now and it's great that I'm able to retain more info and relate pieces of knowledge better through this method.

      I recently came to notice that there is redundancy in my index entries.

      I have two entries for Number Line. I have two branches in my Math category that deals with arithmetic, and so far I have "Addition" and "Subtraction". In those two branches I talk about visualizing ways of doing that, and both of those make use of and underline the term Number Line. So now the two entries in my index are "Number Line (Under Addition)" and "Number Line (Under Subtraction)". In those notes I elaborate how exactly each operation is done on a number line and the insights that can be derived from it. If this continues, I will have Number Line entries for "Multiplication" and "Division". I will also have to point to these entries if I want to link a main note for "Number Line".

      Is this alright? Am I underlining appropriately? When do I not underline keyterms? I know that I do these to increase my chances of relating to those notes when I get to reach the concept of Number Lines as I go through the index but I feel like I'm overdoing it, and it's probably bloating it.

      I get "Communication (under Info. Theory): '4212/1'" in the beginning because that is one aspect of Communication itself. But for something like the number line, it's very closely associated with arithmetic operations, and maybe I need to rethink how I populate my index.

      Presuming, since you're here, that you're creating a more Luhmann-esque inspired zettelkasten as opposed to the commonplace book (and usually more heavily indexed) inspired version, here are some things to think about:<br /> - Aren't your various versions of number line card behind each other or at least very near each other within your system to begin with? (And if not, why not?) If they are, then you can get away with indexing only one and know that the others will automatically be nearby in the tree. <br /> - Rather than indexing each, why not cross-index the cards themselves (if they happen to be far away from each other) so that the link to Number Line (Subtraction) appears on Number Line (Addition) and vice-versa? As long as you can find one, you'll be able to find them all, if necessary.

      If you look at Luhmann's online example index, you'll see that each index term only has one or two cross references, in part because future/new ideas close to the first one will naturally be installed close to the first instance. You won't find thousands of index entries in his system for things like "sociology" or "systems theory" because there would be so many that the index term would be useless. Instead, over time, he built huge blocks of cards on these topics and was thus able to focus more on the narrow/niche topics, which is usually where you're going to be doing most of your direct (and interesting) work.

      Your case sounds, and I see it with many, is that your thinking process is going from the bottom up, but that you're attempting to wedge it into a top down process and create an artificial hierarchy based on it. Resist this urge. Approaching things after-the-fact, we might place information theory as a sub-category of mathematics with overlaps in physics, engineering, computer science, and even the humanities in areas like sociology, psychology, and anthropology, but where you put your work on it may depend on your approach. If you're a physicist, you'll center it within your physics work and then branch out from there. You'd then have some of the psychology related parts of information theory and communications branching off of your physics work, but who cares if it's there and not in a dramatically separate section with the top level labeled humanities? It's all interdisciplinary anyway, so don't worry and place things closest in your system to where you think they fit for you and your work. If you had five different people studying information theory who were respectively a physicist, a mathematician, a computer scientist, an engineer, and an anthropologist, they could ostensibly have all the same material on their cards, but the branching structures and locations of them all would be dramatically different and unique, if nothing else based on the time ordered way in which they came across all the distinct pieces. This is fine. You're building this for yourself, not for a mass public that will be using the Dewey Decimal System to track it all down—researchers and librarians can do that on behalf of your estate. (Of course, if you're a musician, it bears noting that you'd be totally fine building your information theory section within the area of "bands" as a subsection on "The Bandwagon". 😁)

      If you overthink things and attempt to keep them too separate in their own prefigured categorical bins, you might, for example, have "chocolate" filed historically under the Olmec and might have "peanut butter" filed with Marcellus Gilmore Edson under chemistry or pharmacy. If you're a professional pastry chef this could be devastating as it will be much harder for the true "foodie" in your zettelkasten to creatively and more serendipitously link the two together to make peanut butter cups, something which may have otherwise fallen out much more quickly and easily if you'd taken a multi-disciplinary (bottom up) and certainly more natural approach to begin with. (Apologies for the length and potential overreach on your context here, but my two line response expanded because of other lines of thought I've been working on, and it was just easier for me to continue on writing while I had the "muse". Rather than edit it back down, I'll leave it as it may be of potential use to others coming with no context at all. In other words, consider most of this response a selfish one for me and my own slip box than as responsive to the OP.)

    1. http://www.greyroom.org/issues/60/20/the-dialectic-of-the-university-his-masters-voice/

      “The Indexers pose with the file of Great Ideas. At sides stand editors [Mortimer] Adler (left) and [William] Gorman (right). Each file drawer contains index references to a Great Idea. In center are the works of the 71 authors which constitute the Great Books.” From “The 102 Great Ideas: Scholars Complete a Monumental Catalog,” Life 24, no. 4 (26 January 1948). Photo: George Skadding.

    1. Index cards for commonplacing?

      I know that Robert Greene and Ryan Holiday have talked about their commonplace methods using index cards before, and Mortimer J. Adler et al. used index cards with commonplacing methods in their Great Books/Syntopicon project, but is anyone else using this method? Where or from whom did you learn/hear about using index cards? What benefits do you feel you're getting over a journal or notebook-based method? Mortimer J. Adler smoking a pipe amidst a sea of index cards in boxes with 102 topic labels (examples: Law, World, Love, Life, Being, Sin, Art, Citizen, Change, etc.)

    1. Here again we seethe emphasis on writing as a movement that resists reification andall the intimidations of language. It is not surprising that Barthesshould have sought a form that would foster this infinite process. Theform lay, not in the fragment as such, but in the organization orarrangement that could be made from the fragments. He underlinedthis on an unpublished index card from 16 July 1979: ‘I can clearlysee this much (I think): my “notes” (Diary) as such, are not enough (Iincline towards them but in fact they’re a failure). What’s needed isanother turn of the screw, a “key”, which will turn these Notes-Diaryinto the mere notes of work that will be constructed and writtencontinuously: basically, to write notes, the index cards: to classifythem, turn them into bundles, and as I usually do, compose by takingone bundle after another.’11
    2. These index cards,which Barthes began as a student, using them as a bibliographicaland then lexicographical resource, gradually became the place wherehe recorded a great deal of his life. In them, he assembled things hehad seen and heard, travel impressions, phrases that he liked, ideasand plans.

      Roland Barthes used his card index as more than the traditional bibliographical, excerpting, and note taking tool that many had before him. He also used it to accumulate notes on what he had seen and heard in his daily life, phrases he liked, and plans. It came to serve the function, particularly in the last two years of his life, of a diary or what biographer Tiphaine Samoyault came to call his fichierjournal or index-card diary.


      Are there examples of this practice before this time? Certainly in the commonplace book tradition, the ideas of journal, diary, and commonplace had been mixed before.

    3. These index cards,which Barthes began as a student, using them as a bibliographicaland then lexicographical resource, gradually became the place wherehe recorded a great deal of his life.

      Roland Barthes began using index cards as a student.

    4. Bouttes contributedfrequently to Barthes’s seminar and gave an unusual paper at thecolloque de Cerisy called ‘Le diamantfoudre’ (‘The diamond-lightning’). He was darkly dazzling, strange, sombre, unexpected.Barthes thought he had something of Des Esseintes about him,witness an anecdote noted in his card index diary: ‘J.L.: in a phasewhere, in the restaurant, he deconstructs the menus, greatlyshocking the waiters. The other evening, at Prunier’s, oysters andoyster gratin, yesterday, at Le Balzar, oeuf en gelée and oysters,coffee ice cream and ice cream.’59
      1. BNF, NAF 28630, ‘Grand fichier’, 3 January 1975.

      Roland Barthes' biographer Tiphaine Samoyault quotes portions of what he calls Barthes' card index diary.

      This can also be seen in the published cards which comprise Barthes' Mourning Diary about the period following his mother's death.

      Are there other people who've used their card index as a diary the way that some use it for productivity?

      syndication link

    1. As to the mechanics of research, I take notes on four-by-six indexcards, reminding myself about once an hour of a rule I read long agoin a research manual, “Never write on the back of anything.”

      Barbara Tuchman took her notes on four-by-six inch index cards.

      She repeated the oft-advised mantra to only write on one side of a sheet.


      What manual did she read this in? She specifically puts quotes on "Never write on the back of anything." so perhaps it might be something that could be tracked down?

      Who was the earliest version of this quote? And was it always towards the idea of cutting up slips or pages and not wanting to lose material on the back? or did it also (later? when?) include ease-of-use and user interface features even when not cutting things up?

      At what point did double sided become a thing for personal printed materials? Certainly out of a duty to minimize materials, but it also needed the ability to duplex print pages or photocopy them that way.

    1. Examining the cards, it becomes clear that the index constitutes not a mythic totalhistory but a specific set of facts and data that piqued Deutsch’s interest and whichreflected his personal research priorities (see Figure 2).

      Zettelkasten, if nothing else, are a close reflection of the interests of the author who collected them.

      link: Ahrens mentions this

    2. Deutsch’s focus on facts was commonplace among professional US historians atthis time, as was his conception of the ‘fact’ as a small item that could fit onto the sizeof an index card (Daston, 2002).

      Find this quote and context!

    3. Max Raisin (1881–1957),reflected that lessons often devolved into ‘reading several events with dates out of alittle notebook’ (Raisin, 1952: 147; Hertzman, 1985: 83-8).

      Max Raisin indicated that Gotthard Deutsch read several events with dates out of a little notebook during lectures. Was this really a notebook or possibly a small stack/deck of index cards? The could certainly be easily mistaken....

      Check these references

    4. Lustig, Jason. “‘Mere Chips from His Workshop’: Gotthard Deutsch’s Monumental Card Index of Jewish History.” History of the Human Sciences, vol. 32, no. 3, July 2019, pp. 49–75. SAGE Journals, https://doi.org/10.1177/0952695119830900

      Cross reference preliminary notes from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0952695119830900

    1. Indeed, Deutsch’s index is massive but middling, especially when placed alongside those of Niklas Luhmann, Paul Otlet, or Gershom Scholem.

      Curious how Deutsch's 70,000 facts would be middling compared to Luhmann's 90,000? - How many years did Deutsch maintain and collect his version?<br /> - How many publications did he contribute to? - Was his also used for teaching?

      Otlet didn't create his collection alone did he? Wasn't it a massive group effort?

      Check into Gershom Scholem's collection and use. I've not come across his work in this space.

    2. Does Deutsch’s index constitute a great unwritten work of history, as some have claimed, or are the cards ultimately useless ‘chips from his workshop’?

      From his bibliography, it appears that Deutsch was a prolific writer and teacher, so how will Lustig (or others he mentions) make the case that his card index was useless "chips from his workshop"? Certainly he used them in writing his books, articles, and newspaper articles? He also was listed as a significant contributor to an encyclopedia as well.

      It'd be interesting to look at the record to see if he taught with them the way Roland Barthes was known to have done.

    3. Gotthard Deutsch (1859–1921) taught at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati from 1891 until his death, where he produced a card index of 70,000 ‘facts’ of Jewish history.

      Gotthard Deutsch (1859-1921) had a card index of 70,000 items relating to Jewish history.

    1. https://forums.nanowrimo.org/t/linking-up-zettelkasten-or-card-index-method-writers/433719

      Looking for writers who are using an index card-based, Zettelkasten (German translation: slip box), or fichier boîte method for writing. Both traditional methods in the vein of Vladimir Nabokov, Michael Ende, Anne Lamott, Roland Barthes, Umberto Eco, or Robert Pirsig as well as Niklas Luhmann-esque methods (perhaps better for non-fiction) are fine.

      Commonplace book practitioners are also welcome.

      How many index cards will it take you to get to 50,000 words? (Reminder: It’s easier to write a few sentences or an index card at a time than focusing on thousands of words a day…)

    1. Built and assembled without anyparticular significance or any value, Walter de Maria's Boxes for MeaninglessWork could also be an echo of Duchamp's sound strategies. In aparallel project, Robert Morris realized Card File (1962-3), a series ofcards on which a series of hazy concepts are written and laid out alphabetically on a vertical support. Through this initial process, Morriscreated a description of the necessary stages required to achieve thework. The terms used in this file include such things as accidents,alphabets, cards, categories, conception, criticism, or decisions, dissatisfactions, durations, forms, future, interruptions, names, numbers,possibilities, prices, purchases, owners, and signature. As a result, thework had no content other than the circumstances of its execution.Through this piece, Morris also asserted that if one wished to understand and penetrate all subtleties of the work, one would have toconsider all the methods used in bringing it forth. The status of thework of art is immediately called into question, because the range ofcards can undergo a change:In a broad sense art has always been on object, static and final, eventhough structurally it may have been a depiction or existed as afragment. What is being attacked, however, is something more thanart as icon. Under attack is the rationalistic notion that art is a formof work that results in a finished product. Duchamp, of course,attacked the Marxist notion that labor was an index of value, butReadymades are traditionally iconic art objects. What art now has inits hand ismutable stuffwhich need not arrive at the point of beingfinalized with respect to either time or space. The notion thatworkis an irreversible process ending in a static icon-object no longer hasmuch relevance.25Marcel Duchamp's musical and "Dismountable approximation" illustrate this process perfectly. John Cage recalled that "for his final opus,Given: 1. The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating Gas, exhibited in Philadelphia, [Duchamp] wrote a book [the "Dismountable approximation"]that provided a blueprint for dismantling the work and rebuilding it.26It also provided information on how to proceed, as well as the only definition of the musical notation, isn't that so? So it is a musical work ofart; because when you follow the instructions you produce sounds."27But Given: 1. The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating Gas was never createdas a musical piece, even though it is entirely "possible to do it. . . .Andif one takes it like a musical piece, one gets the piece [that Duchamp]This content downloaded from 194.27.18.18 on Fri, 18 Dec 2015 12:35:27 UTCAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

      card file as art!

    1. https://archive.org/details/refiningreadingw0000meij/page/256/mode/2up?q=index+card

      Refining, reading, writing : includes 2009 mla update card by Mei, Jennifer (Nelson, 2007)

      Contains a very generic reference to note taking on index cards for arranging material, but of such a low quality in comparison to more sophisticated treatments in the century prior. Apparently by this time the older traditions have disappeared and have been heavily watered down into just a few paragraphs.

    1. Cattell, J. McKeen. “Methods for a Card Index.” Science 10, no. 247 (1899): 419–20.


      Columbia professor of psychology calls for the creation of a card index of references to reviews and abstracts for areas of research. Columbia was apparently doing this in 1899 for the psychology department.

      What happened to this effort? How similar was it to the system of advertising cards for books in Germany in the early 1930s described by Heyde?

    1. Dwyer, Edward J. “File Card Efficiency.” Journal of Reading 26, no. 2 (1982): 171–171.

      Ease of use in writing and grading with short assignments by using 4 x 6" index cards in classrooms.

      This sounds like some of the articles from 1912 and 1917 about efficiency of card indexes for teaching.

      I'm reminded of some programmed learning texts that were card-based (or really strip-based since they were published in book form) in the 1960s and 1970s. Thse books had small strips with lessons or questions on the front with the answers on the reverse. One would read in strips through the book from front to back and then start the book all over again on page one on the second row of strips and so on.

    1. Rotzel, Grace. “Card File.” The English Journal 6, no. 10 (December 1917): 691–691. https://doi.org/10.2307/801092.

      Follow up note to prior article indicating some sorter term benefits of filing student work and taking notes on it for helping to create improvement over time.

    2. In the February, 1917, number of the English Journal there warticle on "The English Teacher's
    1. Breitenbach, H. P. “The Card Index for Teachers.” The School Review 20, no. 4 (1912): 271–72.


      Apparently in 1912, the card index was little known to teachers... this isn't the sort of use case I was expecting here...

      The general gist of this short note is an encouraging one to suggest that instead of traditional grade books, which are still used heavily in 2022, teachers should use rolodex like cards for keeping attendance and notes on a student's progress.

      Presumably this never caught on. While some elementary teachers still use older paper gradebooks, many others have transferred to digital LMS platforms.

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

    2. I love that he closes the pamphlet again with a nod to comfort and ease of use.

      ...what this pamphlet has sought to do is to make it possible for the researcher to develop a way of doing things which will be as productive and as comfortable as possible.

    3. ...the historian is only as good as his card-file.<br /> —Jacques Goutor, (p360

    4. I love the phrasing of the title of his penultimate section "Making the card-file work", which makes it seem like the card file is ultimately doing the work of writing. Ultimately however, it's the work that was put into it that makes the card file useful, a sentiment that Jacques Goutor emphasizes when he says "How well this succeeds depends partly upon what was put into the file, and partly on how it was put in." (p34)

    5. Thesis to bear out (only tangentially related to this particular text):

      Part of the reason that index card files didn't catch on, especially in America, was that they didn't have a solid/concrete name by which they went. The generic term card index subsumed so much in relation to library card catalogues or rolodexes which had very specific functions and individualized names. Other cultures had more descriptive names like zettelkasten or fichier boîte which, while potentially bland within their languages, had more specific names for what they were.

    6. For the second time Goutor mentions using different size cards for different note types, but doesn't specifically advise for it or provide a reason. Perhaps his advice for consistency and card size applies only to cards of particular types? (p28)

      link to: https://hypothes.is/a/XPphjkNZEe2s3i9VV4qt1g


      Incidentally he also specifically mentions 7x9" cards here too. How frequently used were these as a standard?

    7. Goutor defines self-help notes as notes which one would use to refresh their memory about what remains to be done or researched, problems that remain to be solved, or information which is needed to be researched or found. (p26) These are akin in some sense to what I call "open questions". He also indicates that these notes might be triggered by one's daily activities or occasional musings which relate to one's project but occur outside of its active pursuit. In this sense, they have a similar feel to the idea of Ahrens' fleeting notes, but in Goutor's practice they aren't defined as occurring while one is doing active reading or research.

      He suggests that one keeps these notes in a separate area so that they might be systematically and regularly visited for review, further research, or answering as the opportunities to do so present themselves. Once the questions have been answered and appropriate notes updated or added, these self-help notes can be discarded.

    8. While he previously recommended using note cards of the same size, the examples in Goutor (1980) have 3x5" cards for bibliographic notes and 5x7" or larger cards for content notes. (p19, 21)


      Is there a reason stated anywhere here for this discrepancy or change? One would ostensibly keep them in different places/sections of one's card index, but does the size difference help to differentiate the two to aid in sorting? Is the larger card intended to hold more long form writing?

      Goutor is in Canada, so were 5x7" cards more common or standardized there in the late 1970s and early 80s?

      A5 measures 148 × 210 millimeters or 5.83 × 8.27 inches, so is a bit larger than 5x7".

      5x7" is a more standard photo size, so was this chosen as the result of storage options from the photography space?

      5x7" is scantly available in America in 2022, but only from Hamilco. A few others make cardstock in that size but not specifically as index cards.

    9. There is a difference between various modes of note taking and their ultimate outcomes. Some is done for learning about an area and absorbing it into one's own source of general knowledge. Others are done to collect and generate new sorts of knowledge. But some may be done for raw data collection and analysis. Beatrice Webb called this "scientific note taking".

      Historian Jacques Goutor talks about research preparation for this sort of data collecting and analysis though he doesn't give it a particular name. He recommends reading papers in related areas to prepare for the sort of data acquisition one may likely require so that one can plan out some of one's needs in advance. This will allow the researcher, especially in areas like history or sociology, the ability to preplan some of the sorts of data and notes they'll need to take from their historical sources or subjects in order to carry out their planned goals. (p8)

      C. Wright Mills mentions (On Intellectual Craftsmanship, 1952) similar research planning whereby he writes out potential longer research methods even when he is not able to spend the time, effort, energy, or other (financial) resources to carry out such plans. He felt that just the thought experiments and exercise of doing such unfulfilled research often bore fruit in his other sociological endeavors.

    10. Goutor indicates that "a certain amount of individual in methods is commendable, and indeed necessary." but that "it soon becomes apparent that there are some ways of doing things more efficient and ultimately more productive than others". But he goes on to bemoan that how to manuals offer little help.

      (p3, Introduction)