Read Birds of North America: A guide to field Identification by Chandler S. Robbins, Bertel Bruun , Herbert S. Zim, Arthur Singer (Illustrator) (Golden Field Guides from St. Martin's Press)

Spot the silhouette of a Northern Goshawk in flight. Identify the raucous call of the Red-winged Blackbird. Discover the secret of picking out a Chipping Sparrow from its look-alike cousins. It's simple with this classic field guide, a treasured favorite among amateur bird lovers and exacting professionals. Recognized as the authority on bird identification, this invaluable resource provides:

-All of North America in one volume
-Over 800 species and 600 range maps
-Arthur Singer's famous illustrations featuring male, female, and juvenile plumage
-Sonograms that picture sound for easy song recognition
-Migration routes, feeding habits, and characteristic flight patterns
-American ornithologists' classifications
-Convenient check boxes to record birds you have identified
-Color tabs for quick references

Read introductory pages 1-17.

This seems to have most North American birds with good layouts, information, sonograms, and ranges. Could be a solid contender and is a nice size.

Read Peterson First Guides Birds by Roger Tory Peterson (Houghton Mifflin Company)
Peterson First Guides are the first books the beginning naturalist needs. Condensed versions of the famous Peterson Field Guides, the First Guides focus on the animals, plants, and other natural things you are most likely to see. They make it fun to get into the field and easy to progress to the full-fledged Peterson Guides.
Read pages 1-17 of opening.

A very slim, but nice pocket-sized guide. Probably the least comprehensive on my list. Has some basic names, info, and few pictures than others. Opening was pretty good on laying out structure for what to look out for.

This is definitely not the guide for me.

Liked a tweet by National Museum of Australia (Twitter)
Earlier this evening I bought a copy of Neale & Kelly’s new book Songlines: The Power and Promise (First Knowledges), so obviously I can’t wait for this exhibition to come to the US! Perhaps LACMA might pick it up?
Acquired Songlines: The Power and Promise (First Knowledges) by Margo Neale, Lynne Kelly (Thames & Hudson)

Songlines are an archive for powerful knowledges that ensured Australia's many Indigenous cultures flourished for over 60,000 years. Much more than a navigational path in the cartographic sense, these vast and robust stores of information are encoded through song, story, dance, art and ceremony, rather than simply recorded in writing.

Weaving deeply personal storytelling with extensive research on mnemonics, Songlines: The Power and Promise offers unique insights into Indigenous traditional knowledges, how they apply today and how they could help all peoples thrive into the future. This book invites readers to understand a remarkable way for storing knowledge in memory by adapting song, art, and most importantly, Country, into their lives.

About the series: The First Knowledges books are co-authored by Indigenous and non-Indigenous writers; the series is edited by Margo Neale, senior Indigenous curator at the National Museum of Australia.

Forthcoming titles include: Design by Alison Page & Paul Memmott (2021); Country by Bill Gammage & Bruce Pascoe (2021); Healing, Medicine & Plants (2022); Astronomy (2022); Innovation (2023).

I bookmarked this earlier in the year, but noticed this afternoon that it had been released yesterday. I bought a copy immediately so I can start reading it this evening after dinner. I’ve got high hopes for it with respect to memory and anthropology. 

It’s only available for shipment from Australia at the moment, so I opted to purchase it from Amazon in digital form so I could start reading it right away.

Bookmarked The Purpose of the Biblical Genealogies by Marshall D. Johnson (Wipf & Stock Publishers)
with Special Reference to the Setting of the Genealogies of Jesus
Genealogical material occurs frequently in the Old Testament, and in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke as well as in later Jewish literature. What is the purpose of these lists? How do they relate to their historical and literary context, and what is their function in the Hebraic-Christian literary tradition? Dr. Johnson answers these questions in relation to contemporary biblical scholarship, and is concerned to show that such genealogies are not merely appendices to biblical narratives but are closely related to their context in language, structure and theology He attempts to assess the extent to which they reflect the views of the authors of the books or contexts into which they are placed. He also examines the transition of the genealogical form, and shows how its function changed from tribal expressions to the Gospel writers' use of it to illustrate the conviction that Jesus is the fulfillment of the hope of Israel. Concerned as he is more with the literary purpose of this type of biblical literature than with the historical authenticity of various lists, Dr. Johnson examines a subject that is only now beginning to engage the attention of scholars generally.
An interesting find that may have some discussion of early associative memory. Might also give other sociological interesting tidbits if it’s any good.
Watched Breaking the language barrier | Tim Doner | TEDxTeen 2014 from YouTube

Tim Doner is a senior at the Dalton School in New York City who has studied over 20 languages. His interest started at the age of 13, after several years of French and Latin, when he began learning Hebrew and soon moved on to more obscure tongues such as Pashto, Ojibwe and Swahili. As he describes it, his goal is not to achieve fluency in each, but rather to learn about foreign history and culture through the medium of language. He spends much of his time perfecting his linguistic skills in different neighborhoods around the city, and to date his Youtube channel has received over 3 million hits. Tim has been interviewed (in English, Mandarin, Arabic and Farsi, among others) for media outlets such as The New York Times, BBC, The Today Show, Reuters and The Economist. He is starting his freshman year at Harvard next year and plans to study linguistics.

A nice hook to pull one into some of the reasons why one would want to pick up languages as well as how to do so.

8:44 method of loci (locorum)

10:02 Learning words in groups based on related sounds.

11:22 Why learn languages? Some useful motivation here.

Language represents a world cultural view. This is particularly poignant because a language (and its methods of thinking, viewing the world, and usually lots of associated culture) disappears from the world every two weeks.

Read Researchers validate ancient astronomical structures (
University of Adelaide research has for the first time statistically proven that the earliest standing stone monuments of Britain, the great circles, were constructed specifically in line with the movements of the Sun and Moon, 5000 years ago.

“These people chose to erect these great stones very precisely within the landscape and in relation to the astronomy they knew. They invested a tremendous amount of effort and work to do so. It tells us about their strong connection with their environment, and how important it must have been to them, for their culture and for their culture’s survival.” 

Connection to environment and importance for culture’s survival.
Annotated on September 18, 2020 at 07:46AM

Replied to a thread by @KerrieDoodles (Twitter)
If people are depressed by this minimal loss since the 60’s, they’re going to explode when they read research like that of Lynne Kelly on what we’ve actually lost from indigenous cultures. Here’s a good place to start: Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies: Orality, Memory and the Transmission of Culture though her TED talk gives a bit of the flavor without the heavier, but worthwhile, reading–in part, because it will give us some ideas about how to turn back the clock and recover some of what we’ve lost.

Annotated The Mabinogion (Oxford University Press)
Sioned Davies is Chair of Welsh at Cardiff University. Her special interest is the interplay between orality and literacy, together with the performance aspects of medieval Welsh narrative. 
Oh! This is fascinating. Perhaps some interesting tidbits for my growing theory about the borders of orality and literacy could be hiding in some of her research?
Watched Improve your memory in 4 minutes with Yanjaa from YouTube
Yanjaa, the IKEA Human Catalogue shares her mind palace technique. Perfect if you want to remember passwords, anniversaries or if you want your child to do well in studies via creative learning.
This is a clever bit of marketing on Ikea’s part. She gets to show of some memory techniques and in doing so she highlights some of their products.
Watched How to learn any language in six months by Chris Lonsdale from TEDxLingnanUniversity | YouTube
Chris Lonsdale is Managing Director of Chris Lonsdale & Associates, a company established to catalyse breakthrough performance for individuals and senior teams. In addition, he has also developed a unique and integrated approach to learning that gives people the means to acquire language or complex technical knowledge in short periods of time.
Attention, meaning, relevance and memory

Five Principles

  1. Focus on language content that is relevant to you (We learn tools fastest when they are relevant to us)
  2. Use your language as a tool to communicate from day 1
  3. When you first understand the message you will unconsciously acquire the language (Krashen ,2013)
  4. physiological training
  5. Psycho-physiological state matters, learn when happy and don’t get frustrated

7 actions for rapid language acquisition

  1.  Listen a lot (brain soaking)
  2. Focus on getting the meaning first (use body language)
  3. Start mixing and be creative
  4.  focus on the core
    1. Week 1: The Tool box (learn to say the following all in the target language)
      * What is this
      * How do you say?
      * I don’t understand
    2. Week 2-3 pronouns, common adverbs, adjectives
    3. Week 4 glue words, but and, though
  5. Get a language parent to help you understand
    1. works to understand what you are saying
    2. does not correct mistakes
    3. confirms understanding by using correct language
    4. uses words the learner knows
  6. Copy the face
    1. Work on the muscles and look at native speakers
  7. Direct connect to mental image (visual association)

A note taking problem and a proposed solution


It’s too painful to quickly get frequent notes into note taking and related platforms. has an open API and a great UI that can be leveraged to simplify note taking processes.

Note taking tools

I’ve been keeping notes in systems like OneNote and Evernote for ages, but for my memory-related research and work in combination with my commonplace book for the last year, I’ve been alternately using TiddlyWiki (with TiddlyBlink) and WordPress (it’s way more than a blog.)

I’ve also dabbled significantly enough with related systems like Roam Research, Obsidian, Org mode/Org Roam, MediaWiki, DocuWiki, and many others to know what I’m looking for.

Many of these, particularly those that can be used alternately as commonplace books and zettelkasten appeal to me greatly when they include the idea of backlinks. (I’ve been using Webmention to leverage that functionality in WordPress settings, and MediaWiki gives it grudgingly with the “what links to this page” basic functionality that can be leveraged into better transclusion if necessary.)

The major problem with most note taking tools

The final remaining problem I’ve found with almost all of these platforms is being able to quickly and easily get data into them so that I can work with or manipulate it. For me the worst part of note taking is the actual taking of notes. Once I’ve got them, I can do some generally useful things with them—it’s literally the physical method of getting data from a web page, book, or other platform into the actual digital notebook that is the most painful, mindless, and useless thing for me.

Evernote and OneNote

Older note taking services like Evernote and OneNote come with browser bookmarklets or mobile share functionality that make taking notes and extracting data from web sources simple and straightforward. Then once the data is in your notebook you can actually do some work with it. Sadly neither of these services has the backlinking functionality that I find has become de rigueur for my note taking or knowledge wrangling needs.


My WordPress solutions are pretty well set since that workflow is entirely web-based and because WordPress has both bookmarklet and Micropub support. There I’m primarily using a variety of feeds and services to format data into a usable form that I can use to ping my Micropub endpoint. The Micropub plugin handles the post and most of the meta data I care about.

It would be great if other web services had support for Micropub this way too, as I could see some massive benefits to MediaWiki, Roam Research, and TiddlyWiki if they had this sort of support. The idea of Micropub has such great potential for great user interfaces. I could also see many of these services modifying projects like Omnibear to extend themselves to create highlighting (quoting) and annotating functionality with a browser extension.

With this said, I’m finding that the user interface piece that I’m missing for almost all of these note taking tools is raw data collection.

I’m not the sort of person whose learning style (or memory) is benefited by writing or typing out notes into my notebooks. I’d far rather just have it magically happen. Even copying and pasting data from a web browser into my digital notebook is a painful and annoying process, especially when you’re reading and collecting/curating as many notes as I tend to. I’d rather be able to highlight, type some thoughts and have it appear in my notebook. This would prevent the flow of my reading, thinking, and short annotations from being subverted by the note collection process.

Different modalities for content consumption and note taking 

Based on my general experience there are only a handful of different spaces where I’m typically making notes.

Reading online

A large portion of my reading these days is done in online settings. From newspapers, magazines, journal articles and more, I’m usually reading them online and taking notes from them there.

.pdf texts

Some texts I want to read (often books and journal articles) only live in .pdf form. While reading them in an app-specific setting has previously been my preference, I’ve taken to reading them from within browsers. I’ll explain why in just a moment, but it has to do with a tool that treats this method the same as the general online modality. I’ll note that most of the .pdf  specific apps have dreadful data export—if any.

Reading e-books (Kindle, e-readers, etc.)

If it’s not online or in .pdf format, I’m usually reading books within a Kindle or other e-reading device. These are usually fairly easy to add highlights, annotations, and notes to. While there are some paid apps that can extract these notes, I don’t find it too difficult to find the raw file and cut and paste the data into my notebook of choice. Once there, going through my notes, reformatting them (if necessary), tagging them and expanding on them is not only relatively straightforward, but it also serves as a simple method for doing a first pass of spaced repetition and review for better long term recall.


Naturally taking notes from live lectures, audiobooks, and other spoken events occurs, but more often in these cases, I’m typically able to type them directly into my notebook of preference or I’m using something like my digital Livescribe pen for notes which get converted by OCR and are easy enough to convert in bulk into a digital notebook. I won’t belabor this part further, though if others have quick methods, I’d love to hear them.

Physical books

While I love a physical book 10x more than the next 100 people, I’ve been trying to stay away from them because I find that though they’re easy to highlight, underline, and annotate the margins, it takes too much time and effort (generally useless for memory purposes for me) to transfer these notes into a digital notebook setting. And after all, it’s the time saving piece I’m after here, so my preference is to read in some digital format if at all possible.

A potential solution for most of these modalities

For several years now, I’ve been enamored of the online annotation tool. It’s open source, allows me reasonable access to my data from the (free) hosted version, and has a simple, beautiful, and fast process for bookmarking, highlighting, and annotating online texts on desktop and mobile. It works exceptionally well for both web pages and when reading .pdf texts within a browser window.

I’ve used it daily to make several thousand annotations on 800+ online web pages and documents. I’m not sure how I managed without it before. It’s the note taking tool I wished I’d always had. It’s a fun and welcome part of my daily life. It does exactly what I want it to and generally stays out of the way otherwise. I love it and recommend it unreservedly. It’s helped me to think more deeply and interact more directly with countless texts.

When reading on desktop or mobile platforms, it’s very simple to tap a browser extension and have all their functionality immediately available. I can quickly highlight a section of a text and their UI pops open to allow me to annotate, tag it, and publish. I feel like it’s even faster than posting something to Twitter. It is fantastically elegant.

The one problem I have with it is that while it’s great for collecting and aggregating my note data into my account, there’s not much I can do with it once it’s there. It’s missing the notebook functionality some of these other services provide. I wish I could plug all my annotation and highlight content into spaced repetition systems or move it around and modify it within a notebook where it might be more interactive and cross linked for the long term. Sadly I don’t think that any of this sort of functionality is on’ roadmap any time soon.

There is some great news however! is open source and has a reasonable API. This portends some exciting things! This means that any of these wiki, zettelkasten, note taking, or spaced repetition services could leverage the UI for collecting data and pipe it into their interfaces for direct use.

As an example, what if I could quickly tell Obsidian to import all my pre-existing and future data directly into my Obsidian vault for manipulating as notes? (And wouldn’t you know, the small atomic notes I get by highlighting and annotating are just the sort that one would like in a zettelkasten!) What if I could pick and choose specific course-related data from my reading and note taking in (perhaps by tag or group) for import into Anki to quickly create some flash cards for spaced repetition review? For me, this combination would be my dream application!

These small pieces, loosely joined can provide some awesome opportunities for knowledge workers, students, researchers, and others. The education focused direction that, many of these note taking platforms, and spaced repetition systems are all facing positions them to make a super-product that we all want and need.

An experiment

So today, as a somewhat limited experiment, I played around with my atom feed (, because you know you want to subscribe to this) and piped it into IFTTT. Each post creates a new document in a OneDrive file which I can convert to a markdown .md file that can be picked up by my Obsidian client. While I can’t easily get the tags the way I’d like (because they’re not included in the feed) and the formatting is incredibly close, but not quite there, the result is actually quite nice.

Since I can “drop” all my new notes into a particular folder, I can easily process them all at a later date/time if necessary. In fact, I find that the fact that I might want to revisit all my notes to do quick tweaks or adding links or additional thoughts provides the added benefit of a first round of spaced repetition for the notes I took.

Some notes may end up being deleted or reshuffled, but one thing is clear: I’ve never been able to so simply highlight, annotate, and take notes on documents online and get them into my notebook so quickly. And when I want to do something with them, there they are, already sitting in my notebook for manipulation, cross-linking, spaced repetition, and review.

So if the developers of any of these platforms are paying attention, I (and I’m sure others) really can’t wait for plugin integrations using the full power of the API that allow us to all leverage’ user interface to make our workflows seamlessly simple.

Read - Reading: Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies: Orality, Memory, and the Transmission of Culture by Lynne Kelly (Cambridge University Press)
Chapter 5: Animal and plant knowledge in oral tradition
Finished chapter 5: Animal and plant knowledge in oral tradition
Some fascinating research here

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Replied to Learning from indigenous culture by Neil MatherNeil Mather (doubleloop)
Just an interesting linkage that I’ve noticed in a couple of places recently. I’ve seen Chris mention a few times the mnemonic systems used by indigenous peoples. And there was a chapter in Future Histories on lessons to be learned from indigenous communities on ownership and governance.
I read it just after it came out, but Jared Diamond’s book The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? has some good material on this topic as well. His work is more toward topics like restorative justice and judicial topics as well as cultural and social pieces we could regain. 

Most of the other work I’m talking about relating to memory methods is less widely known/researched and is closer to the bleeding edge of current anthropology and archaeology. That being said, the research is incredibly compelling.  <>

The Noodlemap is looking pretty cool by the way…