Fifteen: A Call to Action—Start your Own Digital Commonplace Book Today

Start your own digital commonplace today! There are some platforms mentioned above, but none of them have the flexibility and adaptability that WordPress provides. I’d love to see how others are doing this and what it allows them to create.

#HeyPresstoConf20


Thanks for coming to my presentation!

Feel free to ask questions about any of the notes here on my website or from any of the Tweets. Comments on the Tweets will ping my site (using Brid.gy as mentioned), and I’ll be able to reply directly from my commonplace book. You can also use Webmentions from your website and then our sites/commonplace books can carry on a conversation of ideas.

If you’d like, feel free to explore my commonplace book (or at least the public portions—I post a lot of work privately). You can find today’s presentation and all the other things I collect under the label for the conference at #HeyPresstoConf20.

Did you present today and want to own a copy of your presentation on your own website? Take a look at some notes I made about using ThreadReaderApp to roll up all your tweets and publish them to your site using Micropub, which I mentioned earlier in this presentation.

Thirteen: Backfeeding ideas with Brid.gy

Let’s say I syndicate a thought to Twitter. I can use Bri.gy to backfeed ideas and interactions with my Tweet back to my original in my digital notebook (where it’s most useful).  This helps outside ideas filter into and interact with my own ideas.

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You knew ideas can have sex, right?!!

Twelve: Webmention for backlinks

For my backlinks I’m relying on the W3C recommendation Webmention spec which I’m implementing with the WordPress Webmention plugin. This allows me to cross link my own posts to look like “comments” or “replies”, but it allows others to ping me and interact with my public posts and their syndicated copies.

#HeyPresstoConf20


Need a primer on what webmentions are and what they can be used for? I’ve got you covered:

Webmentions: Enabling Better Communication on the Internet

https://boffosocko.com/2018/07/19/webmentions-enabling-better-communication-on-the-internet-2/

Eleven: Bi-directional links or backlinks

The internet allows multi-directional linking of thoughts and ideas.

Backlinks are the new cause célèbre in the broader learning space that uses the names wiki (a communal shared commonplace), digital gardens (personal wikis), and online notebooks & productivity tools like Zettelkasten and products like Notion, Roam Research, Obsidian, Evernote. These are all just variations of the commonplace in digital settings.

#HeyPresstoConf20

Eight: Data types and Structure

There’s lots of data I want in my commonplace: likes, bookmarks, things I read, annotations, notes, quotes, watches, listens, etc. 

I implement them with Post Kinds Plugin to provide both structure, presentation, and context to most of my notes.

#HeyPresstoConf20


Each post can have its own category and tags for a variety of taxonomic and (most importantly) search purposes.

 

Six: Social Media?

Social media provides a bit of a simulacrum of the sort of networked thinking we might like to have, but you need to have dozens of accounts for different pieces of knowledge and collection and have followerships in all for interaction. Here we’re missing the idea of centralization.

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It’s also painfully difficult to search for your data across the multiple information silos which often block search engines.

Five: The Memex

This is just what Vannevar Bush suggests in his famous article As We May Think in the July 1945 issue of The Atlantic. Here he posits the Memex, and opens up the idea of networked information.

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The internet itself could be though of as a massive living and ever-growing commonplace book which can be digitally queried to provide the answers to nearly every conceivable question.

(Some may forget that Bush was the thesis advisor of Claude Shannon, the father of the modern digital age.)

 

Four: Networked Thinking

Handwritten commonplaces could be a person’s own version of “networked thinking” and mode of creation. So why not take the additional step further and have a digital online commonplace?

#HeyPresstoConf20


The ability to tag, hyperlink, and search sites adds to their general usability in a way that traditional handwritten commonplace books lacked.

Three: History & Examples

Commonplace books (or commonplaces) are a way to compile knowledge, usually by writing information into books. They have been kept from antiquity, and were kept particularly during the Renaissance and in the nineteenth century.

#HeyPresstoConf20


The following all had/kept commonplaces:

  • Charles Darwin
  • Francis Bacon
  • Ben Jonson
  • John Milton
  • Mrs Anna Anderson
  • E.M. Forster
  • John Locke
  • W.H. Auden
  • H.P. Lovecraft
  • Virginia Woolf
  • Joseph Conrad
  • Washington Irving
  • Victor Hugo
  • Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton, a mathematician and physicist, used a “Waste Book” to write his initial conceptualization of the calculus. A digitized copy of this commonplace is held at the University of Cambridge and is freely available to view online.

 

Two: Definition

Commonplaces are essentially scrapbooks filled with items of every kind: recipes, quotes, letters, poems, tables of weights and measures, proverbs, prayers, legal formulas. Commonplaces are used by readers, writers, students, and scholars as an aide-mémoire for remembering useful concepts or facts.

#HeyPresstoConf20


Each one is unique to its creator’s particular interests but they almost always include passages found in other texts, sometimes accompanied by the compiler’s responses.

“Commonplace” is a translation of the Latin locus communis (from Greek tópos koinós, see literary topos) which means “a general or common topic”, such as a statement of proverbial wisdom.

One: Introduction

Good morning #HeyPresstoConf20! 

I’ll briefly show how I use my WordPress website as an evolution of the Renaissance era commonplace book. This now often goes by the other names wiki, digital garden, second brain, or zettelkasten.


A personal website is more than a “blog.” Rather than spread my digital identity & data across social media, I keep it in one spot for (re)search & re-use.

If you have questions, feel free to ask via Twitter or the comments section of my website. You can also explore my website which has lots of examples–big and small.

All of my presentation today is on my own website with additional tidbits and context. The highlight portions are being syndicated to Twtitter.

For those who need the additional context, this post is one of fifteen which will appear in succession as a Twitter “presentation” for the Hey Pressto! Conference 2020: A WordPress and ClassicPress conference which happens only on Twitter (and my personal website/commonplace book).

Read A $200 Million Seed Valuation for Roam Shows Investor Frenzy for Note-Taking Apps (The Information)
The shift to remote work has buoyed the valuations of several startups making productivity tools. The latest is Roam Research, which has raised $9 million at a valuation of $200 million, or about 25 times higher than the median valuation for seed rounds.Roam is tapping more than a dozen ...
Roam Research should really be going the Zebra route and not the VC funding route. If the 11 person company is truly self-supporting with its current user base and there’s so much upside for growth, they’d be far better off to keep that value internally.

The only reason for VC funding is if they’re looking to do questionably moral things with their users’ data in the future. Data lock in was already my primary concern before this funding round, now its a complete deal blocker.

The VC funding model means that their long term viability is limited, particularly with the competition in the space. The only reason for company management to take this sort of funding is hopes at a quick buy out and large cash windfall at which point their mumblings at data and privacy for users are moot. Buyer beware.

Aside: From a marketing perspective the photo on this article has me wavering between the ideas of a Northern European shoegaze band and an Arizona-based hipster religious cult.