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.
Mark Bernstein of Eastgate Systems, Inc., is the designer of Tinderbox: https://www.eastgate.com/Tinderbox/
Join Mark as he turns back the clock to examine some early Tools For Thought, and the people who created them. There’s quite a lot to learn from both, as well as a research literature that repays study.
The infinite canvas as a thinking space now has a long history, but few of the early systems are well known. I think some of them might be worth a brief look, in terms of the ideas they brought forward and in terms of the tasks they sought to address. For example:
Sketchpad: Ivan Sutherland’s system from the 1960 kicked off interactive computer graphics AND object-oriented programming.
NLS/Augment: Doug Engelbart’s original outliner, the first system that explicitly sought to be a tool for thought.
Xanadu: Ted Nelson’s early proposal for a hypertext docuverse.
Storyspace: the first system intended for non-sequential narrative. Introduced in 1987 and still in use today.
Intermedia: a platform for digital pedagogy, developed at Brown and BBN.
KMS: a hypertext system for technical documentation, the source of Akscyn’s Law
Microcosm: A hypertext system based chiefly on contextual links, the ancestor of all sculptural hypertext.
Aquanet: the 1990 system from Halasz, Trigg, and Marshall at Xerox PARC, described as a tool to hold your knowledge in place.
VIKI: the first spatial hypertext system, designed by Cathy Marshall as a reaction to Aquanet and the start of an enormously influential line of research
Announcing our next Obsidian Book Club, beginning next week, in which we will synoptically read two books: Too Much to Know and The Extended Mind. Everybody is welcome, whether or not you have been in a book club before. It's a really good group and I think these books will spark some very interesting conversations. If you're interested, drop me a line at the email in the video and I'll send you the details.
- The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain by Annie Murphy Paul
- Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age by Ann M. Blair
The last two clubs were incredibly scintillating, so I can’t wait to see what this incarnation holds. Everyone interested in the topics and/or the process is welcome to join us. Details in the video.
In addition to the fun of the two particular texts, those interested in note taking, information management, personal knowledge management, zettelkasten and using tools like Obsidian and Hypothes.is in group settings will appreciate the experience. If you’re an educator interested in using these tools in a classroom-like setting for active reading and academic writing, I think there’s something to be learned in the process of what we’re all doing here.
Obsidian Book Club
Tentative Schedule beginning on
Saturday, March 26, 2022 Saturday, April 2, 2022
Paul: Introduction and Part 1
Blair: Chapter 1
Paul: Part 2
Blair: Chapter 2
Paul: Part 3
Blair: Chapter 3
Blair: Chapter 4
Paul: Any overflow from before??
Blair: Chapter 5