Working over many years with several Indigenous Elders, Duane has published The First Astronomers, a complete overview of traditional First Nations star knowledge.
Cereals provide their offspring with a long-lived supply of energy to power the first growth spurt of the seed. Thousands of years ago, people discovered that they could steal some of the seeds to power their own growth, taking advantage of the storability of seeds to move the food from where it grew to where it might be eaten. Wheat, the pre-eminent cereal, moved along routes that were ancient before the Greek empire, carried, probably, by ox-drawn carts and guided along these black paths by people remembered in Ukraine today as chumaki.
In this episode, Scott Nelson, author of Oceans of Grain, tells me about the various ways in which the ability to move wheat more efficiently changed world history, geography and economics, for starters.
- Scott Reynolds Nelson’s book Oceans of Grain is published by Basic Books.
- Listen to Persephone’s Secret, if you haven’t already, and I promise no vengeful gods will render you dumb.
- Banner photo of a grain elevator and train in Wichita Falls, Texas by Carol M. Highsmith. Image of a 19th century Chumak by Jan Nepomucen Lewicki; Public Domain.
- Transcript coming soon.
Even better, I suspect that some of the history here is right up my alley in relation to work I’ve been doing on oral cultures. Some of it “sounds” like early oral Ukrainian culture is eerily reminiscent to Milman Parry’s work on orality among the guslars of Yugoslavia and reading I’ve been doing on Indigenous astronomy! What a great find. I’ve immediately ordered a copy of the book.
I wouldn’t expect these sorts of information and insight in a typical podcast about food, but Jeremy Cherfas always delivers the goods.
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.
I’m personally interested in reading/learning about these areas above and beyond the primary education levels which are presented here.
Other people are basically the ultimate memex
The success of a technological memex, is intimately + irrevocably intertwined with how well it supports your capacity to connect with other people, who are the ultimate memex of all
If your TFT isn't socially oriented, it's nothing
— Matt Jugo (@Jeanvaljean689) January 8, 2022
Incidentally, if folks want to join this Obsidian book club on this text, it’s just starting and is comprised of a number of academics and researchers in a vein similar to CT. A quick web search should uncover the details to join.
In the 1930s, Milman Parry and Albert B. Lord, two pioneering scholars of oral poetry, conducted adventurous fieldwork in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and northern Albania, collecting singularly important examples of Albanian epic song. Wild Songs, Sweet Songs presents these materials, which have not previously been published, for the first time.
Thanks for highlighting it!
It is far from the only source to exhibit this “oddity”. Biblical references from the time of King David exist as well as in Neolithic archaeology.
I’m increasingly confident of a hidden meaning here of which Western culture is unaware (it having been long forgotten) and which is likely that Indigenous peoples may have forgotten (read: had ripped and stolen from their identities during colonialization).
References to this lost knowledge in oral and written sources still remain as evidence of my theory: “communication” or “conversations” with rocks was literally a “bedrock” cultural knowledge underpinning many human cultures and ways of life for millennia.
I’ll define this “communication” more fully shortly as I continue to collect examples in the literature as well as examples in archaeological contexts.
I’d welcome other references from others should they come across them in any contexts.
I went looking for work on tradents in Bavli, found this! "Anyone who has read...Tibetan literature will be familiar with...the ubiquitous verbatim repetition of phrases, sections, literary structures, and even entire chapters, across many different texts" https://t.co/eeN4qoTqss— Dr. Tamar Marvin (@tamar_marvin) Dec 8, 2021
I was so pleased to receive this email from Sue Norman telling me how The Memory Code had been part of the ground work for this wonderful project on revitalising Aboriginal languages. The linked report is from the ABC. It is so rewarding to get endorsement from Aboriginal organisations.
Links from today’s episode:
- Chris Aldrich web site
- Gardens & Streams II (Indieweb pop-up event) on September 25, 2021 https://events.indieweb.org/2021/09/gardens-and-streams-ii-pPUbyYME33V4
- Obsidian (https://obsidian.md/)
- Hypothesis (https://web.hypothes.is/)
- Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies: Orality, Memory, and the Transmission of Culture by Lynne Kelly (Cambridge, 2015)
- Memory Craft by Lynne Kelly (Pegasus, 2019)
- Anthropology: Why it Matters by Tim Ingold (Polity Press, 2018)
- How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking – for Students, Academics and Nonfiction Book Writers by Sönke Ahrens (Create Space, 2017)
And for the crazy rhetoric and note taking nerds:
Early Philosophical Texts
- Aristotle, Topica, written about 350 BCE Venice, 1495.
- Aristotle, Rhetorica, written about 350 BCE. Basel, 1529.
- Cicero, De Oratore, written about 46 BCE. Northern Italian manuscript about 1450.
- Cicero, Topica, written about 44 BCE. Florentine manuscript, about 1425-30.
- Seneca the Younger, Epistulae morales, written 62-65 CE. French manuscript, about 1175.
- Quintilian, Institutio oratoria, written about 100 CE. Paris, 1542.
- Macrobius, Saturnalia, written about 430 CE. Central Italian manuscript, about 1475.
- Boethius, De topicis differentiis, written about 480-526 CD. English manuscript, about 1275.
- Rodolphus Agricola, De formando studio. Antwerp, 1532; composed 1484.
- Desiderius Erasmus, De ratione studii et instituendi pueros comentarii totidem. [Paris, 1512].
- Philip Melanchthon, Institutiones rhetoricae. Wittenberg .
- Philip Melanchthon, Rhetorices elementa. Lyon, 1537.
- Desiderius Erasmus, De duplici copia verborum ac rerum. Cologne, 1540.
- Petrus Mosellanus, Tabulae de schematibus et tropis…. In Rhetroica Philippi Melanchthonis. In Erasmi Roterdami libellum De duplici copia. Paris, 1542.
- Joachim Camerarius, Elementa rhetoricae. Basel, .
- Henry Peacham, The garden of eloquence: conteyning the figures of grammar and rhetorick. London, 1577.
- One of the first handbooks in English
- Philip Melanchthon, De locis communibus ratio. Augsburg .
- John Brinsley, Ludus literarius: or, The grammar schoole; shewing how to proceede from the first entrance into learning, to the highest perfection. London, 1612.
- [Obadiah Walker], Of education: especially of young gentlemen. Oxford, 1673.
I provocatively (with only a modest amount of wickedness) put forward the idea that a rock is as good a tool for thought as Obsidian.md or Roam Research.
Life imitates art. We shape our tools and thereafter they shape us.
— John M. Culkin, “A Schoolman’s Guide to Marshall McLuhan” (The Saturday Review, March 1967)
Culkin’s framing also makes humanity its own self-contained tool (hopefully for the greater good). We shape our brains and thereafter our brains shape us. While we may use technology and tools, props, and crutches to help us do more or do faster, we shouldn’t loose sight of our humanity. It may be our greatest technology. Perhaps we need to remember to pull it out of our toolbox more often as it’s better evolved and often better fit for more jobs than the tools we’re apt to turn to.
My favorite part: a student suggested doing a project to memorize knowledge related to (urban) foraging (what’s available, safe, identification, etc.)! Its a fantastic example because this is exactly the sort of practical knowledge many indigenous (primarily oral) peoples have used these techniques for over time.
If you’re late to the game, I think you can still register (and I’m happy to catch people up) before our next session in two weeks on July 24th.
In 1965 Ted Nelson imagined a system of interactive, extendable text where words would be freed from the constraints of paper documents. This hypertext would make documents linkable.
Twenty years later, Tim Berners Lee took inspiration from Nelson's vision, as well as other narratives like Vannevar Bush's Memex, to create the World Wide Web. Hypertext came to life.
There are a few missing pieces for the primacy of some of these ideas. The broader concept of the commonplace book predated Nelson and Bush by centuries and surely informed much (if not all) of their thinking about these ideas. It’s assuredly the case that people already had the ideas either in their heads or written down and the links between them existed only in their minds or to some extent in indices as can be found in the literature—John Locke had a particularly popular index method that was widely circulated.
The other piece I find missing is a more historical and anthropological one which Western culture has wholly discounted until recently. There’s a pattern around the world of indigenous peoples in primarily oral cultures using mnemonic techniques going back at least 40,000 years. Many of these techniques were built into daily life in ways heretofore unimagined in modern Western Culture, but which are a more deeply layered version of transclusion imagined here. In some sense they transcluded almost all of their most important knowledge into their daily lives. The primary difference is that all the information was stored visually and associatively in the minds of people rather than on paper (through literacy) or via computers. The best work I’ve seen on the subject is Lynne Kelly’s Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies: Orality, Memory and the Transmission of Culture which has its own profound thesis and is underpinned by a great deal of archaeologic and anthropologic primary research. Given its density I recommend her short lecture Modern Memory, Ancient Methods which does a reasonable job of scratching the surface of these ideas.
Another fantastic historical precursor of these ideas can be found in ancient Jewish writings like the Mishnah which is often presented as an original, more ancient text surrounded by annotated interpretations which are surrounded by other re-interpretations on the same page. Remi Kalir and Antero Garcia have a good discussion of this in their book Annotation (MIT Press, 2019).
It would create a more layered and nuanced form of hypertext – something we’re exploring in the Digital Gardening movement. We could build accumulative, conversational exchanges with people on the level of the word, sentence, and paragraph, not the entire document. Authors could fix typos, write revisions, and push version updates that propogate across the web the same way we do with software. ❧
The Webmention spec allows for resending notifications and thus subsequent re-parsing and updating of content. This could be a signal sent to any links to the content that it had been updated and allow any translcuded pages to update if they wished.
Annotated on February 09, 2021 at 02:38PM
In this idealised utopia we obviously want to place value on sharing and curation as well as original creation, which means giving a small fraction of the payment to the re-publisher as well.We should note monetisation of all this content is optional. Some websites would allow their content to be transcluded for free, while others might charge hefty fees for a few sentences. If all goes well, we’d expect the majority of content on the web to be either free or priced at reasonable micro-amounts. ❧
While this is nice in theory, there’s a long road strewn with attempts at micropayments on the web. I see new ones every six months or so. (Here’s a recent one: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqrvNoDE35lFDUv2enkaEKuo6ATBj9GmL)
This also dramatically misses the idea of how copyright and intellectual property work in many countries with regard to fair use doctrine. For short quotes and excerpts almost anyone anywhere can do this for free already. It’s definitely nice and proper to credit the original, but as a society we already have norms for how to do this.
Annotated on February 09, 2021 at 02:46PM
Transclusion would make this whole scenario quite different. Let’s imagine this again… ❧
A great example can be found at https://www.kartikprabhu.com/articles/marginalia
This reminds me that I need to kick my own server to fix the functionality on my main site and potentially add it to a few others.
Annotated on February 09, 2021 at 02:59PM
We can easily imagine transclusions going the way of the public comments section. ❧
There are definitely ways around this, particularly if it is done by the site owner instead of enabled by a third party system like News Genius or Hypothes.is.
Examples of this in the wild can be found at https://indieweb.org/annotation#Annotation_Sites_Enable_Abuse.
Annotated on February 09, 2021 at 03:04PM