The Idea File of Harold Adams Innis

I am wholly unsurprised that Harold Innis (1894-1952) maintained a card index (zettelkasten) through his research life, but I am pleased to have found that his literary estate has done some work on it and published it as The Idea File of Harold Adams Innis (University of Toronto Press, 1980). The introduction seems to have some fascinating material on the form and structure as well as decisions on how they decided to present and publish it.

For those unaware of his work, primarily as a political economist, he wrote extensively on media and communication theory including the influential works Empire and Communications (1950) and The Bias of Communication (1951). 

While I appreciate the published book nature of the work, it would be quite something to have it excerpted back down to index card form as a piece of material culture to purchase and play around with. Perhaps something in honor of the coming 75th anniversary of his passing?

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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.

22 thoughts on “The Idea File of Harold Adams Innis”

  1. This is a very interesting piece of work. Quite a few of these collections of notes, that were never really intended for publication, did get published anyway. Wittgenstein’s Zettelkasten is one of the more famous of them.

    It seems unlikely that Innis’s ‘idea file’ will be republished in the form of the original index cards. According to the introduction to this book, they’ve probably been lost. More at The lost notes of Harold Innis


  • 💬 The lost index cards of Harold Innis :: Writing Slowly —
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