social media (n):  /ˌsoː.ʃəl ˈmiː.di.aː/
A DDoS, usually perpetrated by surveillance capitalists, on a person’s attention preventing them from traditional sensemaking, clear thinking, learning, and generally otherwise experiencing life.

🎧 Space, Pixels and Cognition (Yiliu and John) | T4T S01E03

Listened to Space, Pixels and Cognition (Yiliu and John) | T4T S01E03 by Jerry Michalski from Tools for Thinking | Betaworks

A conversation about spatial computing and the power of operating in a spatial environment with the founder of Softspace, Yiliu Shen-Burke, and John Underkoffler of Oblong Industries.

Some interesting ideas about generative and playful spaces here. Also some references to Aby Warburg and murder boards, which may be of interest to Shawn Gilmore and J.D. Connor (
After Ahrens’ book I see an awful lot of people talking about “processing” books. There are too many assumptions about what this can mean and this hides many levels of inherent work involved in analyzing and synthesizing knowledge. I would suggest that we’re better off talking about reading them, annotating, excerpting, and thinking about them, or maybe writing about and combining them with other knowledge than “processing” them.
A multi-layered statement, but let’s reflect for a moment on how the West wholly misses out on a hidden personal knowledge management technique inherent in orality.

Quote card featuring part of the indigenous art-inspired cover of the book Songlines by Margo Neale and Lynne Kelly with the quote "Inuit man Dempsey Bob said, ‘The trouble with whitefellas is that they keep all their brains in books.’"

Replied to a post by Fredrik GraverFredrik Graver (
Ok, so I have a Remarkable. I use Zotero a lot, and have started experimenting with Obsidian. I also have used Matter, but never really grew to love it and am considering Readwise, although I suppose I could go back to Pocket. Anyone have good workflows that centre around Remarkable / Zotero, but include Obsidian and / or Readwise? #ResearchWorkflow #ToolsOfAcademia #WritingTools
@fgraver I have a reasonably tight integration of Obsidian and Zotero and see the lure of Readwise but prefer manual import for most parts outside of As for the Remarkable piece, if you must given their T&C, your best bets are searching from @eleanorkonik or the Obsidian Discord channel for . Click through for links/details.
Replied to a post by Ryan CordellRyan Cordell (
I genuinely enjoy building standalone course websites, in part to more easily share teaching materials—see for examples—& in part to maintain some ownership over my course materials. But increasingly I feel its in students’ better interest to just build in the university’s LMS, where they’re accessing their other classes—why should they enjoy juggling multiple systems any more than I do? And I don’t really want to build two sites for every class, so this spring I may just put all my courses in Canvas
I more than appreciate the extra work involved and affordances of the alternate, but I have to say a small piece of spirit in my soul died as I read this. sigh

I wonder if anyone is documenting the amount of course material that disappears and dies in LMSs the way that some track the loss of data and content when social media silos disappear? Our institutions need to do more to help us here.

Replied to a post by Naida Saavedra @naidasaavedra@hcommons.socialNaida Saavedra (
Next semester I'll teach a #CreativeWriting class (fiction, in English) for the first time ever! I'm very excited! I'll focus on short stories and flash fiction. Any ideas you may have, texts you usually include, please send them my way! #LatinaProfessor #AcademicMastodon #WritingCommunity
@naidasaavedra, some ideas for perusal:

McPhee’s Draft No. 4 suggests a useful and fun writing exercise, but it’s missing the hidden contextual advice of using older dictionaries like Webster’s 1913 dictionary

Encouraging creative writers to keep and maintain a commonplace book is always a fruitful exercise. Most of the “greats” had one (or something close to it), but contemporary examples like Eminem’s may be more relevant/motivating. Blogger and creative writer Austin Kleon has a digital version as an example.  Colleen Kennedy has an excellent and creative class assignment relating to this as well.

Musician and producer Brian Eno and artist Peter Schmidt created a set of 100+ “creativity cards” which they entitled Oblique Strategies that can be useful to introduce to students and have them use over a semester. All the editions’ cards can be found via links here:, but there are also websites, apps, and even printable cards

And finally, speaking of cards, it can be fun to do experimental creative writing using index cards, a practice used by Vladimir Nabokov, Jean Paul, Arno Schmidt, Michael Ende, and many others. Open Culture has a short piece on Nabokov’s process.

Should you care to mine it for other possible ideas, I’ve got a digital commonplace of my own. Here are some possible places to start:


McPhee, John. “Draft No. 4: Replacing the Words in Boxes.” The New Yorker, April 29, 2013.
Somers, James. “You’re Probably Using the Wrong Dictionary.” Blog. The Jsomers.Net Blog, May 18, 2014.
Kennedy, Colleen E. “Creating a Commonplace Book (CPB).” Accessed August 31, 2021.
Eno, Brian, and Peter Schmidt. Oblique Strategies: Over One Hundred Worthwhile Dilemmas. 5th ed. 1975. Reprint, self-published, 2001.
Perhaps hidden/unknown to many, but and other instances running the Hometown version of Mastodon, have the ability to post only to their local community and specifically not federate their content to the broader Fediverse. In the posting interface, click on the link icon and choose whether you want to allow your post greater reach or stay only within your community. This can be a helpful affordance for having smaller/restricted conversations.

User interface from highlighting the fifth icon, a link, with a drop down menu to choose either federating one's post or making it local only.

Replied to a post by Kathleen FitzpatrickKathleen Fitzpatrick ( (Mastodon/Hometown))
Hey, @chrisaldrich! It's been a while since I've been in touch with you around #IndieWeb stuff. I'd love to know if there have been any new developments, or if there are new possibilities on the horizon, especially on Mastodon <=> WP front. I'm thinking about my writing workflows and how I'd like to structure them in the weeks ahead...
Happy Friday @kfitz! You’re in luck—its not even horizon we’re watching for, but new lands we can walk. There are several options with varying levels of technicality and user interface affordances:


There are some well built and not overly complicated pathways that allow syndicating from your WordPress website to a Mastodon instance and getting responses back from them, just as I think you’ve done with Twitter in the past. Most of these can be done with plugins like Syndication Links or Mastodon Autopost or a handful of other similar plugins in conjunction with (which does the work for bringing back responses). Personally, I prefer Syndication Links for this and it particularly dovetails well with other IndieWeb infrastructure like Micropub clients.


There are a small handful of methods for “mirroring” your WordPress site so that it will look like its own (single or multi-user depending on your configuration) instance within the Fediverse running ActivityPub, meaning that those on Mastodon or other related platforms could follow your site directly. Most of them are configured as publishing only, so you won’t have a built in reader interface and would have to rely on other (available) infrastructure for those portions.

Option 1

(More technical, and with a few less features) Brid.gyFed, which has options to do the syndication to a separate instance mentioned above, as well as making it look like your website appear to support ActivityPub.
More details on this here:

Option 2

Our friend Matthias Pfefferle, a genius engineer and longtime opensource advocate and WordPress developer who has also written significant pieces of other IndieWeb code you’re already using on WordPress, has written a handful of plugins which will make it appear as if your WordPress site supports ActivityPub out of the box. You’ll broadly want the following plugins: ActivityPub plugin, WebFinger plugin, NodeInfo(2) plugin.

They don’t have very many configurable options though some may be hiding a bit, so try:

  • /wp-admin/options-general.php?page=activitypubwill give you options for how your posts appear;
  • /wp-admin/users.php?page=activitypub-followers-list will show you who is following your site so you can more easily subscribe back via a reader if you like;
  • /wp-admin/profile.php and look under “Fediverse” where your profile identifier will be found. It is based on your username within WordPress.

The documentation for these plugins are scant and I’ve got the intention to write up something explaining the subtleties and a few quirks, but it will have to wait until the holidays I’m afraid. In the interim, they’re not as complete as they could be, but the following two blogposts have some useful details and hints, though its obvious to me that they’re much newer in the space:

There are one or two quirks still pending for how things display if you’re using the IndieWeb-based Post Kinds Plugin, but the developers are generally aware of most of them and will hopefully get them ironed our shortly.

As a result, mostly of these plugins, WordPress is already the fifth largest number of instances in the Fediverse with an (under-)estimated 878 as of this morning.

I’m practicing both the POSSE option as well as Option 2 above on my own site, which can be followed at @chrisaldrich, as an example. Matthias’s example can be found at .

Help & Questions

This is a lot to consume and potentially implement, so, as ever, I’m happy to help guide and lay out the sub-branching options or even hop on a call to walk through bits with folks who have questions. David Shanske and I have been thinking about doing some group sessions and some training videos to walk people through some of this within the next few weeks. There’s also the IndieWeb chat which welcomes questions and conversation which is sure to give you some additional perspective:

For the social reader portions I briefly mentioned, I outline some of those options last year at OERxDomains in A Twitter of Our Own.


Separately, congratulations to HCommons having stood up a Mastodon server so quickly!

It looks like it’s running Hometown, which has local only (unfederated) posting, though I’m not sure how many are aware of that useful feature (hiding on the link in the posting interface) which is sadly missing from most Mastodon instances, particularly for smaller communities. It might be something useful to add to the welcome email? I think this could be a great feature for Universities to allow more private class-based social networking while providing some safer spaces that don’t reach the broader internet and which might comply with FERPA. Obviously it would need some testing and some of the barriers for standing up and maintaining these servers to come down a bit.

There’s a lot of messaging and potential education to be had to roll it out well, but it could be interesting to see the WordPress offerings from include some of these IndieWeb and Fediverse tools as well.

#FeedReaderFriday People I love following and learning from on the web:

Kimberly Hirsh a fascinating reader, writer, educator, and fandom expert

Tom Critchlow – consultant, digital experimenter and bricoleur, networked writing and education

Aaron Davis – educator, edtech innovation and implementation 

Replied to a post by Chris Baca ( Baca ( (Indieweb.Social)
One of the things I don't see often talked about in the #indieweb sphere is how "meta" it is. E.g., I enjoy reading about how devs think about FOSS, but I don't want those to be the only indie people I read. Are there folks out there that are self-hosted but are writing about philosophy or literature, doing journalism, or thinking about other interesting things? Who should I throw in my feed reader? (A favorite of mine is Alan Jacobs @
They are definitely out there. is an entire community of diverse people with this practice (admittedly with some technophiles scattered about). You can easily set up an account and pipe a feed of your content into that network and participate from your own site (for free). If you’re into education and related topics, you’ll find people like Maha Bali who are part of the Domain of One’s Own space which is similar to . Perhaps I’ll list some more for ?
Some will think I’m in the pocket of , but I’m thinking it’s time to re-introduce to the scene. It will dramatically personalize learning while locking out the crowd.

Handwritten index card that reads: Some will think I'm in the pocket of #BigIndexCard, but I'm thinking it's time to re-introduce #IndexCards to the #EdTech scene. It will dramatically personalize learning while locking out the #SurveillanceCapitalism crowd.  #CriticalPedagogy #WissenschaftlichenArbeitens #zettelkasten

Theory and Applications of Continued Fractions MATH X 451.50 | Fall 2022

For the Fall 2022 offering Dr. Michael Miller is offering a mathematics course on Theory and Applications of Continued Fractions at UCLA on Tuesday nights through December 6th. We started the first class last night, but there have been issues with the course listing on UCLA Extension, so I thought I’d post here for any who may have missed it. (If you have issues registering, which some have, call the Extension office to register via phone.)

For almost 300 years, continued fractions—that is, numbers representable as the sum of an integer and a fraction whose denominator is itself such a sum—have fascinated mathematicians with both their remarkable properties and their myriad applications in such fields as number theory, differential equations, and computer algorithms. They have been applied to piano tuning, baseball batting averages, rational tangles, paper folding, and plant growth … the list goes on. This course is a rigorous introduction to the theory and mathematical applications of continued fractions. Topics to be discussed include quadratic irrationals, approximation of real numbers, Liouville’s Theorem, linear recurrence relations and Pell’s equation, Hurwitz’ Theorem, measure theory, and Ramanujan identities.

Mike is recommending the Continued Fractions text by Aleksandr Yakovlevich Khinchin. I found a downloadable digital copy of the 1964 edition (which should be ostensibly the same as the current Dover edition and all the other English editions) at the Internet Archive at  Based on my notes, it looks like he’s following the Khinchin presentation fairly closely so far.

If you’re interested, do join us on Tuesday nights this fall. (We’ve already discovered that going 11 for 37 is the smallest number of at bats that will produce a 0.297 batting average.) 

If you’re considering it and are completely new, I’ve previously written up some pointers on how Dr. Miller’s classes proceed: Dr. Michael Miller Math Class Hints and Tips | UCLA Extension

Brodart Library Supplies for the Analog Zettelkasten Enthusiast

So you’ve taken the plunge and purchased an old school library card catalog, or maybe you want to but haven’t hit critical mass of cards to justify the purchase yet? Certainly you’ve found the traditional index card supplies still available at every office supply store on the planet, but did you know there’s still at least one company that supports libraries with custom card catalog supplies that you could use with your zettelkasten?

Brodart is a library services company based in Pennsylvania that supplies materials to institutional libraries that still has a variety of supplies not only for libraries and book lovers alike, but for amateur and professional zettelmacher(in) as well.

Most of their focus is on 3-by-5 inch index card sized material, but maybe with the re-popularization, they might add more support for the 4-by-6 inch card enthusiasts?

Perhaps if the demand for these older systems goes up, they’ll not only have more offerings, but the price will come down through economies of scale?

Let’s look at what they’ve got available.

Cards and Card Guides

On the card side, they’ve got a variety of options that aren’t as readily available at most office supply stores. If you’ve got an old school library card catalog with rods, you’re probably going to want cards with holes pre-punched. Of course they’ve got them in colors as well as without holes too.

With a sizeable card collection you’re likely to want some card guides, so they offer the traditional A-Z 1/5 Cut Card Guides as well as Blank Catalog Card Guides, with those holes pre-punched for convenience.

3x5" 1/3 cut manilla card guides with pre cut holes for separating your card sections

Dewey Decimal Catalog Card Guides

Most may already have an indexing system built into their system, but if you don’t and want to go with a classic Dewey Decimal set up, they’ve got you covered.

Dewey Decimal system manilla card with a tab that reads "000 General Works". The card has the BroDart logo and the number 24-111-101.

Perhaps you’ve got a sizeable digital card collection already, and have been jonesing to make the jump to analog? They’ve got printable card sheets so you can print out your digital cards relatively easily and continue without losing all that work. Or maybe you’re the mid century/ Umberto Eco purist who wants typewritten cards, but don’t want to retype them all? They’ve got both 4-up and 3-up versions as well.

A perforated sheet of paper with outlines for 4 3x5" cards with pre-drilled holes in each.
4-Up Catalog Card Sheets for Laser Printers

Let’s say you’ve got a long standing practice of making bibliographic cards. You need some cards to hold not only your meta data about the materials you’re reading, but you want to add your fleeting notes to them the way Luhmann and others have. Brodart has a wide variety of pre-printed cards that could serve this purpose. Some have printed sections which say “Date Loaned” and “Borrowers’s Name”, with sections for data below, but these could just as easily stand for page number and lined space for your important notes.

Brodart White Book Cards with Author, Title, Date Loaned, and Borrower’s Name

A 5x3" card that would appear in a library book with an empty section at the top followed by fields labeled "Author" and "Title". Below these are a two colum set of lined spaces under headings for "Date Loaned" and "Borrower's Name".

There are also a number of other versions of this sort of card depending on what you want. Try these or search for the many others which may suit your fancy:

Slip Boxes

Maybe you haven’t made that slip box purchase yet, but want something shiny and new? Brodart has you covered here as well. They’ve got a few different options for a small desktop slip box or a fully modular system that you can add to over time.

Stand alone boxes

Brodart has at least two desktop boxes, with 12 and 9 drawers respectively.

A wooden table top library card catalog with drawers in a 4x3 configuration. Each drawer has a metal pull with a label slot and at the bottom a removable card file rod.

Modular Boxes

Want to design your own system that’s expandable with your card collection? They’ve got a five drawer wide system with options for 1, 2, or 3 row tall sections that you can build up to suit your needs. Start with their table and legs, add a one or more sections of card files, and then top it off with a cover. If you’d like, they’ve also got an interstitial piece with drawer pulls so that you’ve got a writing surface built into your zettelkasten. Build that system up to your ceiling!

A modular 3x5 drawer card catalog box. The top is open so as to accomodate other similar modular boxes or a woodenn cap top.

4-by-6 inch Card Boxes

Brodart is a bit thin on the 4-by-6 inch category, but for the beginning zettelmacher(in), they do have some nice sized, portable, archive quality boxes you might like to start your collection. See their Postcard Boxes.

Other Options

Of course there are lots of other options in the space. Some of these box systems can become pretty expensive, and for the price you might be as well off purchasing a used card catalog which you can restore  or you can find restored ones online. Some of them even go to the level of fine furniture and can quickly go for over $5,000.00.

If you prefer the vintage 20 gauge steel esthetic (you know I do!), you can find lots of used, but still great condition slip boxes online in places like eBay or on Craigslist.

I and others have written some advice about other card storage options on a Reddit community targeted at analog zettelkasten in the past.

What do you use? What do you want to use? Are you going to custom build your own? Have you seen other companies like Brodart that still support the manufacturing of these sorts of tools for thought? Please share your ideas and supplies below.