Today is the release day for Roland Allen’s new book The Notebook: A History of Thinking on Paper (Profile Books, 2023).  Those in the note taking, , , and intellectual history spaces may appreciate it.

Book cover of The Notebook

Published by

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 “”

  1. Alex L says:

    @chrisaldrich It seems the description has a mistake: it's Maria Sebregondi not Maria Segrebondi

    1. Chris Aldrich says:

      @ctietze I tried to get an advanced copy when I heard about it several months back, but didn’t have any luck. I’m waiting on my copy like everyone else, but his bona fides look reasonable and early reviews seem positive.

      Syndicated copies:

  2. This popped up in my feed this morning, and is very likely relevant to our interests. I haven’t read it, but I’ll be ordering it. Apologies if this has been noted (heh) elsewhere already. (I know, I should learn to use the search function.)

    Syndicated copies:

  3. @chrisaldrich fabulous! I pre-ordered this a couple of weeks ago. Interesting that Roland Allen says he needed to write a history of ideas rather than a history of stationery. I see this as a very English, idealist, approach, in contrast to that of the German ‘ontological techno-materialism’ (!) of researchers such as“>Friedrich Kittler. That school foregrounded the technological media, not the ideas they supposedly present. As Hektor Harkötter, author of“>Nottizettel (2021), suggests:

    “Der Notizzettel ist Hard- und Software in einem, nicht nur ein Medium des Denkens, sondern vielleicht das Denken selbst.” | “The notepad is hard and software in one, not only a medium of thinking, but perhaps thinking itself.”

    It’s hard for English speakers to key into this German tradition of radical anti-humanism, though we may have been a little prepared for it by reading Niklas Luhmann!

    Anyway, I’m greatly looking forward to reading Allen’s history of thinking on paper.

  4. Paul says:

    Thank you for making me aware of this book! I very much enjoy the read.

    Allen shows the big picture, and also is able to zoom into the practical details, which actually made the difference in history.

    For instance explaining the difference between parchment and paper, both in terms of production (and cost), and permanence (as a record), and how the arrival of paper in Europe facilitated innovation in accounting, and business. Enlightening.

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