Here’s a version of the timeline of some of the intellectual history I presented today at the PKM Summit in Utrecht. I’m happy to answer any questions, or if you’re impatient, you can also search my online digital repository of notes for any of the people or topics mentioned.

It covers variations of personal knowledge management, commonplace books, zettelkasten, indexing, etc. I wish we’d had time for so much more, but I hope some of the ideas and examples are helpful in giving folks some perspective on what has gone before so that we might expand our own horizons.

The color code of the slides (broadly):

  • orange – intellectual history
  • dark grey – memory, method of loci, memory palaces
  • blue – commonplace books
  • green – index cards, slips, zettelkasten traditions
  • purple – orality
  • light teal – dictionary compilations
  • red – productivity methods

Congratulations to Christoph Adami (@ChristophAdami) on release day for The Evolution of Biological Information: How Evolution Creates Complexity, from Viruses to Brains! I’m awaiting the post for my own hardcover copy. 

I’m in a book club (comprised of academics, historians, educators, inveterate note takers, and lifelong learners) that has chosen its next two books:

Our first Zoom session covering Section 1 of Parrot is Saturday, October 21 at 8:00 am (Pacific). Email Dan Allosso (his email is in the last 15 seconds of one of the previous announcements) to get the details for joining or ping me directly with an email address.

We’re pretty laid back, especially for Saturday mornings, so grab your favorite beverage and join us to chat about the direction of the long arc of history. If you’re joining late, feel free to stop by and join in knowing that you can catch up as we continue along for the coming months. 

Jacky, I know you were working through Debt not so long ago, and this may be your sort of crowd. If you’re free on Saturday mornings, it’d be great to see you and have you join us.

Bookmarked The Evolution of Biological Information by Christoph Adami (
Why information is the unifying principle that allows us to understand the evolution of complexity in nature
Don’t think I’m just holding my breath waiting for this awesome book. Sometimes I turn blue and fall off my chair. 😰🪑

At least the press is saying Jan 16, 2024 now. Tough luck for those doing their holiday shopping for me.

Replied to a post by Natalie (
I started the second week of "Programming 101: An Introduction to #Python for Educators" on #FutureLearn and wrote a small quiz about Arabic verbs: It was fun again and I'm actually a little proud! Would really like to recommend the course again. It's the perfect gentle introduction for me that doesn't overwhelm but still teaches enough to get an idea of what's possible. Looking forward to the final challenge this week: Building commands into your bot. Let's try this!
@natalie, Thanks for the recommendation, this looks great! It looks like it may be a good companion to the Santa Fe Institute’s (free) Foundations & Applications of Humanities Analytics which starts on Jan 17. #DigitalHumanities 


Bookmarked On the Origin of Species: The Preservation of Favoured Traces by Ben Fry (
We often think of scientific ideas, such as Darwin's theory of evolution, as fixed notions that are accepted as finished. In fact, Darwin's On the Origin of Species evolved over the course of several editions he wrote, edited, and updated during his lifetime. The first English edition was approximately 150,000 words and the sixth is a much larger 190,000 words. In the changes are refinements and shifts in ideas — whether increasing the weight of a statement, adding details, or even a change in the idea itself.
What a spectacular visualization of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species.
To prevent problems of context collapse and cultural interface (p67), I’m curious if “women’s business” in Indigenous Australian contexts carries the same type of Western cultural gendered baggage that such a phrase might suggest in the United States? My current understanding of it is solely one of knowledge domains between people in a defined group. Are there other subtleties here?  Are there other differentiations that split up knowledge besides the obvious young/old which has a clear differentiation due to the amount of time living and learning?
Watched Look up! There's an emu in the sky | Duane Hamacher at TEDxNorthernSydneyInstitute by Dr. Duane Hamacher from TEDx Talks | YouTube

A trained astrophysicist, Dr Duane Hamacher is a lecturer in the Nura Gili Indigenous Centre at the University of New South Wales. After studying planets orbiting other stars for two years, his interest in the crossroads of science and culture was too great and he decided to complete a PhD in Indigenous Studies at Macquarie University. He researches in how navigating the boundaries between Indigenous Knowledge and Western Science can show how these ways of understanding the natural world are beneficial to both.

For those who appreciated Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass and want to delve further into Indigenous science, I’m recommending Duane Hamacher and co-authors’ book The First Astronomers: How Indigenous Elders Read the Stars (Allen & Unwin, 2022). This video seems to be a pretty solid, short primer of what to expect.

I’m personally interested in reading/learning about these areas above and beyond the primary education levels which are presented here.

I just couldn’t wait for a physical copy of The First Astronomers: How Indigenous Elders Read the Stars by Duane Hamacher, Ghillar Michael Anderson, Ron Day, Segar Passi, Alo Tapim, David Bosun and John Barsa (Allen & Unwin, 2022) to arrive in the US, so I immediately downloaded a copy of the e-book version.

@AllenAndUnwin @AboriginalAstro

Replied to a tweet by codexeditor (Twitter)
@brunowinck @codexeditor @alanlaidlaw When thinking about this, recall that in the second paragraph of The Mathematical Theory of Communication (University of Illinois Press, 1949), Claude Shannon explicitly separates the semantic meaning from the engineering problem of communication. 
Highlight from the book with the underlined sentence: "These semantic aspects of communication are irrelevant to the engineering problem.
I’m excited to join Dan Allosso‘s book club on How to Take Smart Notes as a means of turning my active reading, annotating, and note taking into papers, articles and books using and


cc: Ian O’Byrne, Remi Kalir

Read The Other Invisible Hand (NOEMA)
Economics and evolution are basically in the same business: Both are all about productivity selection, though one has been at it for billions of years longer than the other. Both involve “invisible hand” magic — intricate, unplanned, “self-or...
Folks who have been reading David Wengrow and David Graeber’s The Dawn of Everything are sure to appreciate the sentiment here which pulls in the ideas of biology and evolution to expand on their account and makes it a much more big history sort of thesis.
I’m reminded of Kate Raworth’s excellent Donut Economics as a potential remedy.

Raw capitalism mimics the logic of cancer within our body politic.