4 x 6 inch index card with the quote "No piece of information is superior to any other. Power lies in having them all on file and then finding the connections. There are always connections; you have only to want to find them.—Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum, p190"
Annotated Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto EcoUmberto Eco (Secker & Warburg)
No piece of information is superior to any other. Power lies in having them all on file and then finding the connections. There are always connections; you have only to want to find them.
If you’re not sure how to start the first card in your zettelkasten, simply write this quote down on an index card, put a number in the corner, and go…

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Chris Aldrich

I'm a biomedical and electrical engineer with interests in information theory, complexity, evolution, genetics, signal processing, IndieWeb, theoretical mathematics, and big history. I'm also a talent manager-producer-publisher in the entertainment industry with expertise in representation, distribution, finance, production, content delivery, and new media.

32 thoughts on “”

  1. True… but Eco seems to treat this as destructive. Wasn’t it believed by the other main characters that the reason the one character from Garamond Press developed cancer was owing to his intellectual search to make connections had an corresponding ontological effect of rewriting his DNA? The web of corresponding connections Causabon makes leads to his death.

    Truly, I don’t mean to poo poo the quote and your point. Just pointing out there is an irony that the quote is from a novel about a group of people being destroyed by the knowledge they uncover / connect.

  2. I’m curious what he means by “file” in the context of the novel?

    Thanks for the quote! It tells me that I should read Eco (I tried reading “The Name of the Rose” as a teenager and didn’t like, but teenagers are known to be stupid).

  3. If you’re in software development, start your zettelkasten by documenting the step-by-step instructions to fresh install your development environment. Windows Utilities, Dev Tools, IDE, all those config options not already in your dotfiles, etc…

    I promise it’ll be useful and get you started

  4. While the statement in itself is probably objectively false, it still is a good way to get people to start a Zettelkasten. And I will probably include this in the getting started with Zettelkasten section of my book on how to study effectively.

    The reason the statement is probably false lies in the fact that information does indeed have superiority over other information depending on the connections, it’s up to us to find the strength of those connections (In AI this is known as weight values), which is on par with Evaluation on Bloom’s Taxonomy, the highest form of learning, only below creation itself.

    1. Take extreme care how you may conflate and differentiate (or don’t) the ideas of “information” and “knowledge”. Also keep in mind that the mathematical/physics definition of information is wholly divorced from any semantic meanings it may have for a variety of receivers which can have dramatically different contexts which compound things.

      It’s very possible that the meaning you draw from it is an eisegetical one to the meaning which Eco assigns it.

      Syndicated copies:

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