Earnest but still solidifying #pkm take:
The ever-rising popularity of personal knowledge management tools indexes the need for liberal arts approaches. Particularly, but not exclusively, in STEM education.
When people widely reinvent the concept/practice of commonplace books without building on centuries of prior knowledge (currently institutionalized in fields like library & information studies, English, rhetoric & composition, or media & communication studies), that's not "innovation."
Instead, we're seeing some unfortunate combination of lost knowledge, missed opportunities, and capitalism selectively forgetting in order to manufacture a market.
In an age of print-on-demand and reflowing text, why in goodness’ name don’t we have the ability to print almost anything we buy and are going to read in any font size and format we like?
Why couldn’t I have a presentation copy sized version of The Paris Review?
“I could fit this in my pocket,” I thought when the first newly re-designed @parisreview arrived. And sure enough editor Emily Stokes said it’s was made to fit in a “large coat pocket” in the editor’s note. pic.twitter.com/tra25GOk6e
— Marc Geelhoed (@marcgeelhoed) December 8, 2021
Why shouldn’t I be able to have everything printed on bible-thin pages of paper for savings in thickness?
Why couldn’t my textbooks be printed with massively large margins for writing notes into more easily? Why not interleaved with blank pages? Particularly near the homework problem sections?
Why couldn’t I buy my own hardcover, custom edition of Annotation with massive five inch margins to really make having a handwritten #AnnoConvo easier? (C’mon MIT Press, I know it’s part of a pre-existing series, but editorial considerations should have necessitated leaving at least an inch!)
Why can’t I have more choice in a range of fonts, book sizes, margin sizes, and covers?
When are publishing platforms going to give us this?!?
If you hate them, it’s not your fault.
A🧵 of annotations
What any individual infers about their hopes and dreams for an e-reader derives from their understanding of reading in the first place. You can’t have books without bookiness. Bookiness. That’s the word Glenn Fleishman, a technology writer and longtime bookmaker, uses to describe the situation. “It’s the essence that makes someone feel like they’re using a book,” he told me. Like pornography or sandwiches, you know bookiness when you see it. Or feel it? Either way, most people can’t identify what it is in the abstract. ❧
Does this only come out because there’s something that’s book-tangential or similar and it needs to exist to describe the idea of not-book, book-adjacent, or book-like on some sort of spectrum of bookishness.
Annotated on September 18, 2021 at 12:28PM
The ancient Romans sometimes connected wax tablets with leather or cords, suggesting a prototype of binding. Replacing the wax with leaves allowed many pages to be stacked atop one another, then sewn or otherwise bound together. ❧
early book prototypes
Annotated on September 18, 2021 at 12:30PM
In other words, as far as technologies go, the book endures for very good reason. Books work. ❧
Aside from reading words to put ideas into my brain, one of the reasons I like to read digital words is that the bigger value proposition for me is an easier method to add annotations to what I’m reading and then to be able to manipulate those notes after-the-fact. I’ve transcended books and the manual methods of note taking. Until I come up with a better word for it, digital commonplacing seems to be a useful shorthand for this new pattern of reading.
Annotated on September 18, 2021 at 12:33PM
If you have a high-quality hardbound book nearby, pick it up and look at the top and bottom edges of the binding, near the spine, with the book closed. The little stripey tubes you see are called head and tail bands (one at the top, one at the bottom). They were originally invented to reinforce stitched binding, to prevent the cover from coming apart from the leaves. Today’s mass-produced hardcover books are glued rather than sewn, which makes head and tail bands purely ornamental. And yet for those who might notice, a book feels naked without such details. ❧
It is an odd circumstance that tail bands are still used on modern books that don’t need them. From a manufacturing standpoint, the decrease in cost would dictate they disappear, however they must add some level of bookiness that they’re worth that cost.
Annotated on September 18, 2021 at 12:37PM
One site of that erosion, which may help explain ebook reticence, can be found in self-published books. For people predisposed to sneer at the practice, a lack of editing or the absence of publisher endorsement and review might justify self-published works’ second-class status. That matter is debatable. More clear is the consequence of disintermediation: Nobody takes a self-published manuscript and lays it out for printing in a manner that conforms with received standards. And so you often end up with a perfect-bound Word doc instead of a book. That odd feeling of impropriety isn’t necessarily a statement about the trustworthiness of the writer or their ideas, but a sense of dissonance at the book as an object. It’s an eerie gestalt, a foreboding feeling of unbookiness. ❧
Having helped others to self-publish in the past, I definitely do spend a bit of time putting the small sort of bookiness flourishes into their texts.
Annotated on September 18, 2021 at 12:41PM
The weird way you tap or push a whole image of a page to the side—it’s the uncanny valley of page turning, not a simulation or replacement of it. ❧
This may be the first time I’ve seen uncanny valley applied to a topic other than recognizing people versus robots or related simulacra.
Annotated on September 18, 2021 at 12:44PM
The iPad’s larger screen also scales down PDF pages to fit, making the results smaller than they would be in print. It also displays simulated print margins inside the bezel margin of the device itself, a kind of mise en abyme that still can’t actually be used for the things margins are used for, such as notes or dog-ears. ❧
It would be quite nice if a digital reader would allow actual writing in the margins, or even overlaying the text itself and then allowing the looking at the two separately.
I do quite like the infinite annotation space that Hypothes.is gives me on a laptop. I wish there were UI for it on a Kindle in a more usable and forgiving way. The digital keyboard on Kindle Paperwhite is miserable. I’ve noticed that I generally prefer reading and annotating on desktop in a browser now for general ease-of-use.
Also, I don’t see enough use of mise en abyme. This is a good one.
In Western art history, mise en abyme (French pronunciation: [miz ɑ̃n‿abim]; also mise en abîme) is a formal technique of placing a copy of an image within itself, often in a way that suggests an infinitely recurring sequence. In film theory and literary theory, it refers to the technique of inserting a story within a story. The term is derived from heraldry and literally means “placed into abyss”. It was first appropriated for modern criticism by the French author André Gide.
Annotated on September 18, 2021 at 12:49PM
Ebook devices are extremely compatible with an idea of bookiness that values holding and carrying a potentially large number of books at once; that prefers direct flow from start to finish over random access; that reads for the meaning and force of the words as text first, if not primarily; and that isn’t concerned with the use of books as stores of reader-added information or as memory palaces. ❧
Intriguing reference of a book as a memory palace here.
The verso/recto and top/middle/bottom is a piece of digital books that I do miss from the physical versions as it serves as a mnemonic journey for me to be able to remember what was where.
I wonder if Ian Bogost uses the method of loci?
Annotated on September 18, 2021 at 12:53PM
So do all manner of other peculiarities of form, including notations of editions on the verso (the flip side) of the full title page and the running headers all throughout that rename the book you are already reading. ❧
I do dislike the running headers of digital copies of books as most annotation tools want to capture those headers in the annotation. It would be nice if they were marked up in an Aria-like method so that annotation software would semantically know to ignore them.
Annotated on September 18, 2021 at 12:56PM
Skimming through pages, the foremost feature of the codex, remains impossible in digital books. ❧
This is related to an idea that Tom Critchlow was trying to get at a bit the other day. It would definitely be interesting in this sort of setting.
(Why yes I am procrastinating my to-do list. You?)
— Tom Critchlow (@tomcritchlow) September 17, 2021
Annotated on September 18, 2021 at 01:03PM
“We’ve been thoughtful,” Amazon continued, “about adding only features and experiences that preserve and enhance the reading experience.” The question of whose experience doesn’t seem to come up. ❧
They’re definitely not catering to my reading, annotating, and writing experience.
Annotated on September 18, 2021 at 01:04PM
The top employee voted question at today's internal Facebook Q&A for Mark Zuckerberg:— Ryan Mac (@RMac18) April 22, 2021
"What is our next big product, which does not imitate already existing products on the market?"
It’s not just a nostalgia thing. Sifting through the past often leads to something new.
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?
The ability to tag, hyperlink, and search sites adds to their general usability in a way that traditional handwritten commonplace books lacked.
The California Ideology is a mix of cybernetics, free market economics, and counter-culture libertarianism and is promulgated by magazines such as WIRED and MONDO 2000 and preached in the books of Stewart Brand, Kevin Kelly and others.
Lacking the free time of the hippies, work itself ho become the main route to self-fulfilment for much of the,virtual class’. ❧
They’re right that overwork and identification with work has become all too prevalent over the past several decades.
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:11AM
Community activists will increasingly use hypermedia to replace corporate capitalism and big government with a hi-tech ‘gift economy’ in which information is freely exchanged between participants. ❧
I know the idea “gift economy” was around in the late 2000’s and even more prevalent in the teens, but not sure where it originated. This is one of the earliest sitings I’ve seen.
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:15AM
In this version of the Californian Ideology, each member of the ‘virtual class’ is promised the opportunity to become a successful hi-tech entrepreneur. ❧
In retrospect, it’s really only made a much higher disparity between the top and the bottom.
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:19AM
Almost every major technological advance of the last two hundred years has taken place with the aid of large amounts of public money and under a good deal of government influence. The technologies of the computer and the Net were invented with the aid of massive state subsidies. ❧
examples of government (public) funding for research and it’s effects
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:23AM
Americans have always had state planning, but they prefer to call it the defence budget. ❧
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:24AM
Entrepreneurs often have an inflated sense of their own ‘creative act of will’ in developing new ideas and give little recognition to the contributions made by either the state or their own labour force. ❧
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:25AM
When Japanese companies threatened to take over the American microchip market, the libertarian computer capitalists of California had no ideological qualms about joining a state-sponsored cartel organised by the state to fight off the invaders from the East! ❧
A good example of so-called capitalists playing the do as we say and not as we do game.
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:27AM
In American folklore, the nation was built out of a wilderness by free-booting individuals – the trappers, cowboys, preachers, and settlers of the frontier. Yet this primary myth of the American republic ignores the contradiction at the heart of the American dream: that some individuals can prosper only through the suffering of others. The life of Thomas Jefferson – the man behind the ideal of `Jeffersonian democracy’ – clearly demonstrates the double nature of liberal individualism. The man who wrote the inspiring call for democracy and liberty in the American declaration of independence was at the same time one of the largest slave-owners in the country. ❧
Some profound ideas here about the “American Dream” and the dark underbelly of what it may take to achieve not only for individuals, but to do so at scale.
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:29AM
Working for hi-tech and new media corporations, many members of the ‘virtual class’ would like to believe that new technology will somehow solve America’s social, racial and economic problems without any sacrifices on their part. ❧
In retrospect, this has turned out to be all-too-true.
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:31AM
Slave labour cannot be obtained without somebody being enslaved. At his estate at Monticello, Jefferson invented many ingenious gadgets – including a ‘dumb waiter’ to mediate contact with his slaves. In the late twentieth century, it is not surprising that this liberal slave-owner is the hero of those who proclaim freedom while denying their brown-skinned fellow citizens those democratic rights said to be inalienable. ❧
This is a powerful example
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:33AM
Abandoning democracy and social solidarity, the Californian Ideology dreams of a digital nirvana inhabited solely by liberal psychopaths. ❧
And nearly twenty years later, isn’t that roughly what we’ve got? (aside from the digital nirvana, which didn’t work out so well.)
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:35AM
Clayton Christensen passed away yesterday. I never met him and he was by many accounts a warm, generous individual. So this is not intended as a personal attack, and I apologise if it’s timing seems indelicate, but as so many pieces are being published about how influential Disruption Theory was, I would like to offer a counter narrative to its legacy.
It legitimised undermining of labour – the fact that Uber, Tesla, Amazon etc all treat their staff poorly is justified because they are disrupting an old model. And you can’t bring those old fashioned conceits of unions, pensions, staff care into this. By harking to the God of Disruption, companies were able to get away with such practices more than if they had simply declared “our model is to treat workers badly”.
Originally bookmarked on January 29, 2020 at 06:38AM
Innovation is the main event of the modern age, the reason we experience both dramatic improvements in our living standards and unsettling changes in our society. Forget short-term symptoms like Donald Trump and Brexit, it is innovation itself that explains them and that will itself shape the 21st century for good and ill. Yet innovation remains a mysterious process, poorly understood by policy makers and businessmen, hard to summon into existence to order, yet inevitable and inexorable when it does happen.
Matt Ridley argues in this book that we need to change the way we think about innovation, to see it as an incremental, bottom-up, fortuitous process that happens to society as a direct result of the human habit of exchange, rather than an orderly, top-down process developing according to a plan. Innovation is crucially different from invention, because it is the turning of inventions into things of practical and affordable use to people. It speeds up in some sectors and slows down in others. It is always a collective, collaborative phenomenon, not a matter of lonely genius. It is gradual, serendipitous, recombinant, inexorable, contagious, experimental and unpredictable. It happens mainly in just a few parts of the world at any one time. It still cannot be modelled properly by economists, but it can easily be discouraged by politicians. Far from there being too much innovation, we may be on the brink of an innovation famine.
Ridley derives these and other lessons, not with abstract argument, but from telling the lively stories of scores of innovations, how they started and why they succeeded or in some cases failed. He goes back millions of years and leaps forward into the near future. Some of the innovation stories he tells are about steam engines, jet engines, search engines, airships, coffee, potatoes, vaping, vaccines, cuisine, antibiotics, mosquito nets, turbines, propellers, fertiliser, zero, computers, dogs, farming, fire, genetic engineering, gene editing, container shipping, railways, cars, safety rules, wheeled suitcases, mobile phones, corrugated iron, powered flight, chlorinated water, toilets, vacuum cleaners, shale gas, the telegraph, radio, social media, block chain, the sharing economy, artificial intelligence, fake bomb detectors, phantom games consoles, fraudulent blood tests, faddish diets, hyperloop tubes, herbicides, copyright and even―a biological innovation―life itself.
How long have you been working on your idea? Or looking for that next disruptive investment? Better still, how do you perfect your skill in doing all that? How do you lock-down your idea, your technology, your business or even your approach to investments? Consider this: the key stems from a very practical understanding how the abstract world (where disruptive innovations come from in the first place) actually works. Amazingly, it is something we were never accurately taught. Hard to believe right? But change that…and we change everything. So take a step into both the past and future. Come to a talk that will change the way you understand the world forever – something that will actually make you smarter. How cool would that be?
Winston is the founder of a discipline called Concept Modeling, which is at the root of all other disciplines – but don’t let the word “discipline” scare you. This talk will be very practical and may just be the key to your success going forward. He is the author of an award (Visionary Award) winning new book, Concerning the Nature and Structure of Concept. Reviewers have called his book (thus his work) “brimming with insights,” “intellectually fun,” “a startling fresh perspective on our world.” NY Times has called him “the guru of concept modeling.”
With past and present clients that include Warner Bros., Dreamworks, NBC/U, Interscope, Relativity and many others, Winston works on films, TV Shows, technologies, businesses and management models for executives. How cool is Bug Bunny? Very. With dozens of movies, technologies under his belt, his presentations are unique, insightful, informative, and yes, fun — he even concept modeled baseball. Love that! As Winston always says: “Let’s rock this thing!”
As featured in the New York Times, and Deadline.com, Winston is the creator and founder of Concept Modeling, and author of his coming award (Visionary Award) winning book, Concerning The Nature And Structure Of Concept. His concept modeling helps studios and companies perfect films, ideas, technologies, science or businesses. It is considered revolutionary (truly, no cliché) by more and more professionals. The NY Times called Winston the “guru of Concept Modeling.”
Based on a discovery made on Feb. 6, 1989, -- a massive eureka moment as described in his book-- Winston developed a unique practice of deconstructing ideas based on deep insights on how the abstract world actually works or doesn’t – his past and present clients include Warner Bros., Dreamworks, NBC/U, Interscope, Relativity and many others.
His work may just represent a revolutionary advancement that launches you and your successful idea or investment, right here, right now. As Winston is fond of saying: ‘Let’s rock this thing!”
The real value of a lot of this is in some of his examples. There are also some interesting thoughts for applying this to linguistics and early languages with smaller vocabularies compared to more developed modern languages with much larger vocabularies.
Ideas are infinite and free. Concepts are not. How can you get to the end of an idea?
Cup conceptually is a container.
Example of pictures of an airplane on the ground versus in the air. The picture of the airplane in the air is better because it contains the concept of what an airplane is.
Sir George Cayley cousin of mathematician Arthur Cayley
Negacept is a concept that defines its nature by the negation of another concept.
- Example: Superman and krpytonite
- Example: brakes on an automobile
Innovation is literally “into” and “new”
The softball is not based on a baseball, but is originally based on a boxing glove.
Concept is not obvious. It is not a structure or bigger idea, it’s not a strategy. Concept is abstract essence. It is nature, structure, activity and philosophy of abstract essence.
An idea is simply a possibility.
Revenge movie versus retaliation movie. Revenge takes time. Don’t take revenge. You can’t relate to movies unless there is a concept, and that is typically hope.
Words were originally based on concepts.
How do we come up with ideas? How do we make decisions? And how can we do both better? Steven Johnson has explored this question and written a dozen books about it. In this playful, thoughtful episode, Steven has some fascinating stories, like how Darwin made the decision to get married — or how a defecating duck helped lead to the invention of the computer. Through their own stories, Steven and Alan Alda share their thoughts about the transformative nature of ideas and what sort of environments best give rise to creativity.
The commercial about Alda Communication Training makes me wonder if they recommend scientists and communicators have their own websites? In particular, I’m even more curious because of Johnson’s mention of his commonplace book and how he uses it in this episode. I suspect that scientists having a variety of interconnecting commonplaces (via Webmention) using basic IndieWeb or A Domain of One’s Own principles could better create slow hunches, create more links, increase creativity and diversity, and foster greater innovation. I’ll have to follow up on this idea. While some may do something slightly like this within other parts of social media, I don’t get the impression that it’s as useful a tool in those places (isn’t as searchable or permanent feeling, and is likely rarely reviewed over). Being able to own your digital commonplace as a regular tool certainly has more value as Johnson describes. Functionality like On This Day dramatically increases its value.
But there’s another point that we should make more often, I think, which is that one of the most robust findings in the social sciences and psychology over the last 20 years is that diverse groups are just collectively smarter and more original in the way that they think in, in both their way of dreaming up new ideas, but also in making complicated decisions, that they avoid all the problems of group think and homogeneity that you get when you have a group of like minded people together who are just amplifying each other’s beliefs.—Steven Johnson [00:09:59]
Think about a big decision in your life. Think about the age span of the people you’re talking to about that choice. Are they all your peers within three or four years? Are you talking somebody who’s a generation older and a generation younger?—Steven Johnson [00:13:24]
I was talking to Ramzi Hajj yesterday about having mentors (with a clear emphasis on that mentor being specifically older) and this quote is the same sentiment, just with a slightly different emphasis.
One of the things that is most predictive of a species, including most famously, humans, of their capacity for innovation and problem solving as an adult is how much they play as a newborn or as a child.—Steven Johnson [00:28:10]
Play is important for problem solving.
I think you boil this all down into the idea that if you want to know what the next big thing is, look for where people are having fun.—Alan Alda [00:31:35]
This is interesting because I notice that one of the binding (and even physically stated) principles of the IndieWeb is to have fun. Unconsciously, it’s one of the reasons I’ve always thought that what the group is doing is so important.
Ha! Alda has also been watching Shtisel recently [00:50:04].
In writing almost 100 posts on innovation since 2007, it’s time to put the core observations together into a cohesive narrative. Here goes.
Innovation is fifteen different things to fifteen different people.
“An innovation is the implementation of a new or significantly improved product (good or service), or process, a new marketing method, or a new organisational method in business practices, workplace organisation or external relations.” —OECD
Bookmark: Some really interesting stuff. Food for thought…
‘I would like to conclude with this observation about the nature of creative knowledge work.
“Visualize the workflow of a physical job: produce, produce, produce, produce, produce, produce, produce, produce, produce.
Now visualize the workflow of a creative knowledge worker: nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, flash of brilliance, nothing, nothing, nothing.”
—Jay Cross (1944-2015)
That flash of brilliance often comes from reflection. Creative work is not routine work done faster. It’s a whole different way of work, and a critical part is letting the brain do what it does best — come up with ideas. Without time for reflection, most of those innovative ideas will get buried in the detritus of modern workplace busyness.
“Innovation comes from slack. Slack comes from saying no. If you’re afraid of both, no startup bubble technique is going to help you.” —Cory Foy
As a species, human beings are barely more intelligent than kindergarten kids. We revel at our place at the top of the food chain, and praise our technological ingenuity but, let’s face it, we’ve barely begun to work life out. We’ve created one directional extractive systems that undermine our own life support systems, like kindergarten …
The secret is in the grooves
Companies and apps constantly ask for ratings, but all that data may just be noise in the system.