I’ve gone back further than this for the commonplace and the florilegium which helped to influence their creation, though I’ve not delved into the specific invention or general use of indices in the space heavily. I suspected that they grew out of the tradition of using headwords, though I’m not sure that indices became more popular until the paper by John Locke in 1689 (in French) or 1706 (in English).
I’ll put Dr. Duncan’s book into the hopper and see what he’s got to say on the topic.
To learn—A rather obvious one, but I wanted to challenge myself again. ❧
While I suspect that part of the idea here is to learn about the web and programming, it’s also important to have a place you can more easily look over and review as well as build out on as one learns. This dovetails in part with his third reason to have his own website: “to build”. It’s much harder to build out a learning space on platforms like Medium and Twitter. It’s not as easy to revisit those articles and notes as those platforms aren’t custom built for those sorts of learning affordances.
Building your own website for learning makes it by definition a learning management system. The difference between my idea of a learning management system here and the more corporate LMSes (Canvas, Blackboard, Moodle, etc.) is that you can change and modify the playground as you go. While your own personal LMS may also be a container for holding knowledge, it is a container for building and expanding knowledge. Corporate LMSes aren’t good at these last two things, but are built for making it easier for a course facilitator to distribute and grade material.
We definitely need more small personal learning management systems. (pLMS, anyone? I like the idea of the small “p” to highlight the value of these being small.) Even better if they have social components like some of the IndieWeb building blocks that make it easier for one to build a personal learning network and interact with others’ LMSes on the web. I see some of this happening in the Digital Gardens space and with people learning and sharing in public.
[[Flancian]]’s Anagora.org is a good example of this type of public learning space that is taking the individual efforts of public learners and active thinkers and knitting their efforts together to facilitate a whole that is bigger than the sum of it’s pieces.
I've been meaning to do some kind of index card style template for the site for ages and never got round to it. Now I have. I’m quite pleased with it. CSS repeating gradient lines and all that. ❧
ᔥ // pimoore.ca ()in
“People come, they see everything and nothing more than that, just like in porn movies; consequently, they leave disappointed.”
This is a telling story about people’s perception of the simplicity of the idea of a slip box (zettelkasten, card catalog, commonplace book or whatever you want to call your note taking system).
Niklas Luhmann, Zettelkasten II, index card no. 9/8,3
It’s also a testament to the fact that the value of a zettelkasten is in the upfront work that is required in making valuable notes and linking them. Many people end up trying out the simple looking system and then wonder why it isn’t working for them. The answer is that they’re not working for it.
Just as sex can be fun, working with a system of notes can be fun. (“Just” can be a problematic word, n’cest pas?) In either framing, both partners need to do some work—neither necessarily the same work. The end result can be magic.
As Potter Stewart might have said, “I may not be able to define proper note taking, but I know it when I see it.”
And annotation helps you save those thoughts, share them with others, and further refine them.
Image made with the help of BibleMunger 2.0
This week I was able to catch up a bit on some podcasts I subscribe to. One of the casts I’ve been enjoying lately is 25 Years of Ed Tech, a serialized version of Martin Weller’s book by the same title. Now audio books are plenty good by themselves, but this particular podcast has an addition episode per chapter called “between the chapters” where a host interviews members of the ed tech community (those around Martin in some way) about the topic of the previous chapter. This week was all about blogs.
He mentions Stephen Downes‘ regular workflow as well. I think mine is fairly similar to Stephen’s. To some extent, I write much more on my own website now than I ever had before. This is because I post a lot more frequently to my own site, in part because it’s just so easy to do. I’ll bookmark things or post about what I’ve recently read or watched. My short commentary on some of these is just that—short commentary. But occasionally I discover, depending on the subject, that those short notes and bookmark posts will spring into something bigger or larger. Sometimes it’s a handful of small posts over a few days or weeks that ultimately inspires the longer thing. The key seems to be to write something.
Perhaps a snowball analogy will work? I take a tiny snowball of words and give it a proverbial roll. Sometimes it sits there and other times it rolls down the hill and turns into a much larger snowball. Other times I get a group of them and build a full snowman.
It’s just this sort of workflow that I was considering when I recently suggested that those using annotation as a classroom social annotation tool, might also consider using it to help students create commonplace books to help students spur their writing. The key is to create small/low initial stakes that have the potential to build up into something bigger. Something akin to the user interface of Twitter (and their tweetstorm functionality). Write a short sentence or two on which you can hit publish, but if the mood strikes, then write another, and another until you’ve eventually gotten to something that could be a blog post (or article). Of course if you do this, you should own it.
This is also the sort of perspective which Sönke Ahrens takes in his excellent book How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking – for Students, Academics and Nonfiction Book Writers, though there he’s prescribing something for general note taking when I might suggest it’s a prescription for a pedagogy behind living and writing.
As I’m thinking about this, I can’t help but think that Hypothes.is, if only for fun, ought to add a manicule functionality to their annotation product.
I totally want to be able to highlight portions of my reading with an octopus manicule!
I can see their new tagline now:
Helping hands on the digital page.
I’m off to draw some octopi…
Instead of using the historic word “commonplacing”, Eminem uses the fantastic euphemism “stacking ammo”. Given his use of his words and lyrics collection in battle rap, this seems very apropos.
Cooper analogizes the collection as the scrawlings of a crazy person. In some sense, this may be because there is no traditional order, head words, or indexing system with what otherwise looks like a box of random pages and ideas. One might argue that the multitude of notebooks, papers, colors, sizes, etc. provides a sort of context which Eminem could use as a method of loci for remembering where to find particular ideas, thus making the need for an indexing system feel superfluous to him. This is even more likely if he’s regularly using, maintaining, and mining his material for daily work.
h-book is an experimental microformat at best.
I might recommend for minimizing the vocabulary that one might use the existing
h-product instead and allow parsers to find an ISBN, Library of Congress book number, ASIN, UPC, or other product code to determine “bookness”.
Annotated on August 01, 2021 at 09:13AM