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As We May Think - Wikipedia
"As We May Think" is a 1945 essay by Vannevar Bush which has been described as visionary and influential, anticipating many aspects of information society. It was first published in The Atlantic in July 1945 and republished in an abridged version in September 1945—before and after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Bush expresses his concern for the direction of scientific efforts toward destruction, rather than understanding, and explicates a desire for a sort of collective memory machine with his concept of the memex that would make knowledge more accessible, believing that it would help fix these problems. Through this machine, Bush hoped to transform an information explosion into a knowledge explosion.[1]
A few notes on Vannevar Bush's amazing essay, "As We May Think", from the 1945(!) @TheAtlantic :
When I first read As We May Think* as a teenager, I was astonished by how much it predicted of the computer age in 1945—but recently I’ve been feeling wistful about some pieces it predicts which never came to pass. [thread]

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10 weeks ago by nhaliday
Zettlr | "Wtf is a Zettelkasten?"
The Zettelkasten Manifesto
In case you're still wondering what a Zettelkasten is and you need a little bit more incentives to get started, please have a look at a video we've made earlier this week, where we outline why the notion of a Zettelkasten has become so intrinsically linked to the name of Niklas Luhmann, why we think that this is bad and how we think we should think of Zettelkästen:
techtariat  org:com  project  software  tools  exocortex  notetaking  workflow  thinking  dbs  structure  network-structure  critique  graphs  stay-organized  germanic  metabuch 
12 weeks ago by nhaliday
Ask HN: How do you manage your one-man project? | Hacker News
The main thing is to not fall into the "productivity porn" trap of trying to find the best tool instead of actually getting stuff done - when something simple is more than enough.
hn  discussion  productivity  workflow  exocortex  management  prioritizing  parsimony  recommendations  software  desktop  app  webapp  notetaking  discipline  q-n-a  stay-organized  project-management 
october 2019 by nhaliday
Ask HN: Favorite note-taking software? | Hacker News
Ask HN: What is your ideal note-taking software and/or hardware?:

my wishlist as of 2019:
- web + desktop macOS + mobile iOS (at least viewing on the last but ideally also editing)
- sync across all those
- open-source data format that's easy to manipulate for scripting purposes
- flexible organization: mostly tree hierarchical (subsuming linear/unorganized) but with the option for directed (acyclic) graph (possibly a second layer of structure/linking)
- can store plain text, LaTeX, diagrams, sketches, and raster/vector images (video prob not necessary except as links to elsewhere)
- full-text search
- somehow digest/import data from Pinboard, Workflowy, Papers 3/Bookends, Skim, and iBooks/e-readers (esp. Kobo), ideally absorbing most of their functionality
- so, eg, track notes/annotations side-by-side w/ original PDF/DjVu/ePub documents (to replace Papers3/Bookends/Skim), and maybe web pages too (to replace Pinboard)
- OCR of handwritten notes (how to handle equations/diagrams?)
- various forms of NLP analysis of everything (topic models, clustering, etc)
- maybe version control (less important than export)

- Evernote prob ruled out do to heavy use of proprietary data formats (unless I can find some way to export with tolerably clean output)
- Workflowy/Dynalist are good but only cover a subset of functionality I want
- org-mode doesn't interact w/ mobile well (and I haven't evaluated it in detail otherwise)
- TiddlyWiki/Zim are in the running, but not sure about mobile
- idk about vimwiki but I'm not that wedded to vim and it seems less widely used than org-mode/TiddlyWiki/Zim so prob pass on that
- Quiver/Joplin/Inkdrop look similar and cover a lot of bases, TODO: evaluate more
- Trilium looks especially promising, tho read-only mobile and for macOS desktop look at this:
- RocketBook is interesting scanning/OCR solution but prob not sufficient due to proprietary data format
- TODO: many more candidates, eg, TreeSheets, Gingko, OneNote (macOS?...), Notion (proprietary data format...), Zotero, Nodebook (, Polar (, Roam (looks very promising)

Ask HN: What do you use for you personal note taking activity?:

Ask HN: What are your note-taking techniques?:

Ask HN: How do you take notes (useful note-taking strategies)?:

Ask HN: How to get better at taking notes?:

Ask HN: How do you keep your notes organized?:

Ask HN: How did you build up your personal knowledge base?:
nice comment from math guy on structure and difference between math and CS:
useful comment collating related discussions:
Designing a Personal Knowledge base:
Ask HN: How to organize personal knowledge?:
Do you use a personal 'knowledge base'?:
Ask HN: How do you share/organize knowledge at work and life?:
Managing my personal knowledge base:
The sad state of personal data and infrastructure:
Building personal search infrastructure for your knowledge and code:

How to annotate literally everything:
Ask HN: How do you organize document digests / personal knowledge?:
Ask HN: Good solution for storing notes/excerpts from books?:
Ask HN: What's your cross-platform pdf / ePub reading workflow?:
some related stuff in the reddit links at the bottom of this pin
How to capture information from your browser and stay sane

Ask HN: Best solutions for keeping a personal log?:

other stuff:
plain text:
Tiago Forte:

hn search:

Slant comparison commentary:

good comparison of options here in comments here (and Trilium itself looks good):

stuff from Andy Matuschak and Michael Nielsen on general note-taking:
Software interfaces undervalue peripheral vision! (a thread)
This morning I implemented PageRank to sort backlinks in my prototype note system. Mixed results!
One way to dream up post-book media to make reading more effective and meaningful is to systematize "expert" practices (e.g. How to Read a Book), so more people can do them, more reliably and more cheaply. But… the most erudite people I know don't actually do those things!

the memex essay and comments from various people including Andy on it:

some more stuff specific to Roam below, and cf "Why books don't work":


Knowledge systems which display contextual backlinks to a node open up an interesting new behavior. You can bootstrap a new node extensionally (rather than intensionally) by simply linking to it from many other nodes—even before it has any content.
Curious: what are the most striking public @RoamResearch pages that you know? I'd like to see examples of people using it for interesting purposes, or in interesting ways.
If I weren't doing my own research on questions in knowledge systems (which necessitates tinkering with my own), and if I weren't allergic to doing serious work in webapps, I'd likely use Roam instead!
interesting app:

intriguing but probably not appropriate for my needs:



one comment links to this, mostly on Notion:

Leo Editor (combines tree outlining w/ literate programming/scripting, I think?):


Coda mentioned

maybe not the best source for a review/advice

interesting comment(s) about tree outliners and spreadsheets:

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october 2019 by nhaliday
Zettelkästen? | Hacker News
Here’s a LessWrong post that describes it (including the insight “I honestly didn’t think Zettelkasten sounded like a good idea before I tried it” which I also felt).

yeah doesn't sound like a good idea to me either. idk

the linked post:
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october 2019 by nhaliday
The Future of Mathematics? [video] | Hacker News
Kevin Buzzard (the Lean guy)

- general reflection on proof asssistants/theorem provers
- Kevin Hale's formal abstracts project, etc
- thinks of available theorem provers, Lean is "[the only one currently available that may be capable of formalizing all of mathematics eventually]" (goes into more detail right at the end, eg, quotient types)
hn  commentary  discussion  video  talks  presentation  math  formal-methods  expert-experience  msr  frontier  state-of-art  proofs  rigor  education  higher-ed  optimism  prediction  lens  search  meta:research  speculation  exocortex  skunkworks  automation  research  math.NT  big-surf  software  parsimony  cost-benefit  intricacy  correctness  programming  pls  python  functional  haskell  heavyweights  research-program  review  reflection  multi  pdf  slides  oly  experiment  span-cover  git  vcs  teaching  impetus  academia  composition-decomposition  coupling-cohesion  database  trust  types  plt  lifts-projections  induction  critique  beauty  truth  elegance  aesthetics 
october 2019 by nhaliday
Burrito: Rethinking the Electronic Lab Notebook
Seems very well-suited for ML experiments (if you can get it to work), also the nilfs aspect is cool and basically implements exactly one of the my project ideas (mini-VCS for competitive programming). Unfortunately gnarly installation instructions specify running it on Linux VM: Linux is hard requirement due to nilfs.
techtariat  project  tools  devtools  linux  programming  yak-shaving  integration-extension  nitty-gritty  workflow  exocortex  scholar  software  python  app  desktop  notetaking  state  machine-learning  data-science  nibble  sci-comp  oly  vcs  multi  repo  paste  homepage  research 
may 2019 by nhaliday
Perseus Digital Library
This is actually really useful.

- Load English translation side-by-side if available.
- Click on any word and see the best guess for definition+inflection given context.

this interface allows search by lemma/POS:
tools  reference  history  iron-age  mediterranean  the-classics  canon  foreign-lang  linguistics  database  quixotic  stoic  syntax  lexical  exocortex  aggregator  search  multi 
february 2019 by nhaliday
mental gluttony – Snakes and Ladders
Again, while it is a great blessing that a man no longer has to be rich in order to enjoy the masterpieces of the past, for paperbacks, first-rate color reproductions, and stereo-phonograph records have made them available to all but the very poor, this ease of access, if misused — and we do misuse it — can become a curse. We are all of us tempted to read more books, look at more pictures, listen to more music than we can possibly absorb, and the result of such gluttony is not a cultured mind but a consuming one; what it reads, looks at, listens to is immediately forgotten, leaving no more traces behind than yesterday’s newspaper.
Clearing up browser bookmarks of saved reading. Realizing that having way too much to read for a lifetime isn't something to be proud of.
letters  pinboard  info-dynamics  info-foraging  attention  the-monster  temperance  prudence  culture  big-peeps  aristos  old-anglo  aphorism  quotes  rhetoric  advice  regularizer  prioritizing  workflow  twitter  social  discussion  techtariat  internet  notetaking  exocortex  multi  unaffiliated  gnon  right-wing  explore-exploit  :/ 
july 2017 by nhaliday
In the first place | West Hunter
We hear a lot about innovative educational approaches, and since these silly people have been at this for a long time now, we hear just as often about the innovative approaches that some idiot started up a few years ago and are now crashing in flames.  We’re in steady-state.

I’m wondering if it isn’t time to try something archaic.  In particular, mnemonic techniques, such as the method of loci.  As far as I know, nobody has actually tried integrating the more sophisticated mnemonic techniques into a curriculum.  Sure, we all know useful acronyms, like the one for resistor color codes, but I’ve not heard of anyone teaching kids how to build a memory palace.
I have never used formal mnemonic techniques, but life has recently tested me on how well I remember material from my college days. Turns out that I can still do the sorts of math and physics problems that I could then, in subjects like classical mechanics, real analysis, combinatorics, complex variables, quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, etc. I usually have to crack the book though. Some of that material I have used from time to time, or even fairly often (especially linear algebra), most not. I’m sure I’m slower than I was then, at least on the stuff I haven’t used.
Long-term memory capacity must be finite, but I know of no evidence that anyone has ever run out of it. As for the idea that you don’t really need a lot of facts in your head to come up with new ideas: pretty much the opposite of the truth, in a lot of fields.

Mental Imagery > Ancient Imagery Mnemonics:
In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, very elaborate versions of the method evolved, using specially learned imaginary spaces (Memory Theaters or Palaces), and complex systems of predetermined symbolic images, often imbued with occult or spiritual significances. However, modern experimental research has shown that even a simple and easily learned form of the method of loci can be highly effective (Ross & Lawrence, 1968; Maguire et al., 2003), as are several other imagery based mnemonic techniques (see section 4.2 of the main entry).

The advantages of organizing knowledge in terms of country and place:

fascinating aside:
US vs Nazi army, Vietnam, the draft:
You think I know more about this than a retired major general and former head of the War College? I do, of course, but that fact itself should worry you.

He’s not all wrong, but a lot of what he says is wrong. For example, the Germany Army was a conscript army, so conscription itself can’t explain why the Krauts were about 25% more effective than the average American unit. Nor is it true that the draft in WWII was corrupt.

The US had a different mix of armed forces – more air forces and a much larger Navy than Germany. Those services have higher technical requirements and sucked up a lot of the smarter guys. That was just a product of the strategic situation.

The Germans had better officers, partly because of better training and doctrine, partly the fruit of a different attitude towards the army. The US, much of the time, thought of the Army as a career for losers, but Germans did not.

The Germans had an enormous amount of relevant combat experience, much more than anyone in the US. Spend a year or two on the Eastern Front and you learn.

And the Germans had better infantry weapons.

The US tooth-to-tail ratio was , I think, worse than that of the Germans: some of that was a natural consequence of being an expeditionary force, but some was just a mistake. You want supply sergeants to be literate, but it is probably true that we put too many of the smarter guys into non-combat positions. That changed some when we ran into manpower shortages in late 1944 and combed out the support positions.

This guy is back-projecting Vietnam problems into WWII – he’s mostly wrong.

more (more of a focus on US Marines than Army):
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Extended spider cognition | SpringerLink
Spiders do not seem to be cognitively limited, displaying a large diversity of learning processes, from habituation to contextual learning, including a sense of numerosity. To tease apart the central from the extended cognition, we apply the mutual manipulability criterion, testing the existence of reciprocal causal links between the putative elements of the system. We conclude that the web threads and configurations are integral parts of the cognitive systems. The extension of cognition to the web helps to explain some puzzling features of spider behaviour and seems to promote evolvability within the group, enhancing innovation through cognitive connectivity to variable habitat features. Graded changes in relative brain size could also be explained by outsourcing information processing to environmental features. More generally, niche-constructed structures emerge as prime candidates for extending animal cognition, generating the selective pressures that help to shape the evolving cognitive system.
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april 2017 by nhaliday
Overcoming Bias : On the goodness of Beeminder
There is a lot of leeway in what indicators you measure, and some I tried didn’t help much. The main things I measure lately are:

- number of 20 minute blocks of time spent working. They have to be continuous, though a tiny bit of interruption is allowed if someone else causes it
- time spent exercising weighted by the type of exercise e.g. running = 2x dancing = 2 x walking
- points accrued for doing tasks on my to-do list. When I think of anything I want to do I put it on the list, whether it’s watching a certain movie or figuring out how to make the to do list system better. Some things stay there permanently, e.g. laundry. I assign each task a number of points, which goes up every Sunday if it’s still on the list. I have to get 15 points per day or I lose.
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january 2017 by nhaliday
Dgsh – Directed graph shell | Hacker News
I've worked with and looked at a lot of data processing helpers. Tools, that try to help you build data pipelines, for the sake of performance, reproducibility or simply code uniformity.
What I found so far: Most tools, that invent a new language or try to cram complex processes into lesser suited syntactical environments are not loved too much.


I'll give dgsh a try. The tool reuse approach and the UNIX spirit seems nice. But my initial impression of the "C code metrics" example from the site is mixed: It reminds me of awk, about which one of the authors said, that it's a beautiful language, but if your programs getting longer than hundred lines, you might want to switch to something else.

Two libraries which have a great grip at the plumbing aspect of data processing systems are airflow and luigi. They are python libraries and with it you have a concise syntax and basically all python libraries plus non-python tools with a command line interface at you fingertips.

I am curious, what kind of process orchestration tools people use and can recommend?


Exactly our experience too, from complex machine learning workflows in various aspects of drug discovery.
We basically did not really find any of the popular DSL-based bioinformatics pipeline tools (snakemake, bpipe etc) to fit the bill. Nextflow came close, but in fact allows quite some custom code too.

What worked for us was to use Spotify's Luigi, which is a python library rather than DSL.

The only thing was that we had to develop a flow-based inspired API on top of Luigi's more functional programming based one, in order to make defining dependencies fluent and easy enough to specify for our complex workflows.

Our flow-based inspired Luigi API (SciLuigi) for complex workflows, is available at:


We have measured many of the examples against the use of temporary files and the web report one against (single-threaded) implementations in Perl and Java. In almost all cases dgsh takes less wall clock time, but often consumes more CPU resources.
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january 2017 by nhaliday
Wizard War | West Hunter
Some of his successes were classically thin, as when he correctly analyzed the German two-beam navigation system (Knickebein). He realize that the area of overlap of two beams could be narrow, far narrower than suggested by the Rayleigh criterion.

During the early struggle with the Germans, the “Battle of the Beams”, he personally read all the relevant Enigma messages. They piled up on his desk, but he could almost always pull out the relevant message, since he remembered the date, which typewriter it had been typed on, and the kind of typewriter ribbon or carbon. When asked, he could usually pick out the message in question in seconds. This system was deliberate: Jones believed that the larger the field any one man could cover, the greater the chance of one brain connecting two facts – the classic approach to a ‘thick’ problem, not that anyone seems to know that anymore.

All that information churning in his head produced results, enough so that his bureaucratic rivals concluded that he had some special unshared source of information. They made at least three attempts to infiltrate his Section to locate this great undisclosed source. An officer from Bletchley Park was offered on a part-time basis with that secret objective. After a month or so he was called back, and assured his superiors that there was no trace of anything other than what they already knew. When someone asked ‘Then how does Jones do it? ‘ he replied ‘Well, I suppose, Sir, he thinks!’
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november 2016 by nhaliday
renamed to

very similar thing by Rob Pike:
Hi, Camlistore author here.
Andrew Gerrand worked with me on Camlistore too and is one of the Upspin authors.

The main difference I see is that Camlistore can model POSIX filesystems for backup and FUSE, but that's not its preferred view of the world. It is perfectly happy modeling a tweet or a "like" on its own, without any name in the world.

Upspin's data model is very much a traditional filesystem.

Also, upspin cared about the interop between different users from day 1 with keyservers etc, whereas for Camlistore that was not the primary design criteria. (We're only starting to work on that now in Camlistore).

But there is some similarity for sure, and Andrew knows both.
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october 2016 by nhaliday
Quiver | HappenApps
would be interesting to compare this w/ Workflowy (maybe keep Workflowy for most stuff but try out Quiver on a software side project)

biggest problems:
1. linear rather than hierarchical
2. lack of custom preamble (a limitation of MathJax). you can only define macros

both definitely are side effects of targeting programmers working on individuated projects rather than universal notetaking

design goals:
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june 2016 by nhaliday
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