recentpopularlog in

robertogreco : indexing   7

Taking note: Luhmann's Zettelkasten
"Index cards played a large role in research during the last century -- the 20th century, that is. And there is still a great deal of interest in using index cards as a means for organizing one's daily life. See, for instance, Index Cards, More Index Cards, Photos, or any number of other sites that are fascinated by paper or "analog devices," as they are sometimes referred to by geeks in this time when electronic devices take over more and more of our lives. But index cards clearly also were the model for important early programs intended for what is by some called with the unfortunate phrase "personal knowledge management" today. I mean such programs as NoteCard, HyperCard, and their successors, which began from the index- or note-card metaphor.

One of the more interesting systems for keeping such index cards was developed by the German sociologist Niklas Luhmann (1927-1998). I have no great interest in his theory. I am fascinated by his method of keeping notes, and will therefore restrict my comments to this aspect of his work. But if you are interested, you can visit Niklas Luhmann for a short introduction to his theory. Clearly, his index-card-system and his sociological theory are connected in interesting, intricate, and not easily understood ways, but I will forgo investigating these for now.

One of the things that made his Zettelkasten or slip box (or note card file) so intriguing to the larger (German) public was a 1981 paper, entitled "Kommunikation mit Zettelkästen. Ein Erfahrungsbericht" (Communication with Index Card Systems. An Empirical Account. It appeared in Niklas Luhmann, Universität als Milieu. Kleine Schriften. hrsg. von André Kieserling. Bielefeld: Verlag Cordula Haux, 1992.) Luhmann claimed that his file was something of a collaborator in his work, a largely independent partner in his research and writing. It might have started out as a mere apprentice when Luhmann was still studying himself (in 1951), but after thirty years of having been fed information by the human collaborator it had acquired the ability of surprising him again an again. Since the ability of genuinely surprising one another is an essential characteristic of genuine communication, he argued that there was actually communication going on between himself and his partner in theory.

Luhmann also described his system as his secondary memory (Zweitgedächtnis), alter ego, or his reading memory or (Lesegedächtnis).

Luhmann's notecard system is different from that of others because of the way he organized the information, intending it not just for the next paper or the next book, as most other researchers did, but for a life-time of working and publishing. He thus rejected the mere alphabetical organisation of the material just as much as the systematic arrangement in accordance with fixed categories, like that of the Dewey Decimal System, for instance. Instead, he opted for an approach that was "thematically unlimited," or is limited only insofar as it limits itself.

Instead, he opted for organisation by numbers. Every slip would receive a number, independently of the information on it, starting with 1, and potentially continuing to infinity. Since his slips were relatively small (slightly larger than 5 x 8 cards, or Din-A 6, to be precise), he often had to continue on other slips the information or train of thought started on one slip. In this way, he would end up with Numbers like 1/1 and 1/2 and 1/3 etc. He wrote these numbers in black ink at the top of the slip, so that they could easily be seen when a slip was removed and then put back in the file.

Apart from such linear continuations of topics on different slips, Luhmann also introduced a notation for branchings of topics. Thus, when he felt that a certain term needed to be further discussed or the information about it needed to be supplemented, he would begin a new slip that addded a letter, like a, b, or c to the number. So, a branching from slip 1/6 could have branches like 1/6a or 1/6b, up to 1/6z. These branching connections were marked by red numbers within the text, close to the place that needed further explanation or information. Since any of these branches might require further continuations, he also had many slips of the form 1/6a1, 1/6a2, etc. And, of course, any of these continuations can be branched again, so he could end up with such a number as:

21/3d26g53 for -- who else? -- Habermas.

These internal branchings can continue ad infinitum -- at least potentially. This is one of the advantages of the system. But there are others: (i) Because the numbers given to the slips are fixed and never change. Any slip can refer to any other slip by simply writing the proper number on the slip; and, what is more important, the other slip could be found, as long as it was properly placed in the stack or file. (ii) This system makes internal growth of the Zettelkasten possible that is completely independent of any preconceived ordering scheme. In fact, it leads to a kind of emergent order that is independent of any preconception, and this is one of the things that makes surprise or serendipity. (iii) it makes possible a register of keywords that allow one to enter into the system at a certain point to pursue a certain strand of thought. (iv) it leads to meaningful clusters within the system. Areas on which one has worked a lot are much more spatially extended than those on which one has not worked. (v) There are no privileged places in the note-card system, every card is as important as every other card, and no hierarchy is super-imposed on the system. The significance of each card depends on its relation to other cards (or the relation of other cards to it). It is a network; it is not "arboretic." Accordingly, it in some ways anticipates hypertext and the internet.

Almost all of these advantages of Luhmann's numbering scheme are, of course, easily realizable in any database system that have fixed record system. And the branching ability is easily reproduced by wiki-technology. (For more on the relation of this approach and wiki, see "Some Idiosyncratic Reflections on Note-Taking in General and ConnectedText in Particular" or Idiosyncratic Reflections on Note-Taking).

If you would like to see a video of Luhmann, explaining the intricacies of his system, go to Luhmann on Zettelkasten"
indexcards  niklasluhmann  via:tealtan  2007  notetaking  indexing  notecards  cards  zettelkasten  memory  reading  archives  organization  habermas  branching  annotation 
june 2016 by robertogreco
All you need is publish — The Message — Medium
"Publish everything everywhere. Anything anywhere. Publish twice, thrice, just don’t break the contract if you got paid.

Copy the bits, it’s what they want. Data wanna be free. Call the Archive Team. Call the Internet Archive. Call the Library of Congress. Ask them for your tweets, Christmas 2009. 140-character drunken grandpa? Yes, please.

This is not the indie web, this is the web. The web itself has and always will be indie at its core. There are no edges here. The web excels at boundless. Everything sparkles intertwingular. Things connect and disconnect and multiply at will, as long as we’re willing. And willing we are."

"Mass Indie

Mass Indie is the zine publishing of web publishing. The everyperson indie. Godaddy a domain, snag a Tumblr, fiddle a DNS and Go Go Go. Don’t have eight bucks? Skip the domain and jump straight to Go Go Go. It’s right there and it’s faster than a Xerox at Kinkos. Don’t like Tumblr? Ghost it up. Livejournal’s still a thing. Wattpad welcomes all. Geo-plaster at Kindle Single it and give it away. Toss it on Scribd. Pastebin the notion. Splatter your post across twenty tweets. Heck, Google Doc it. The Web Is Here For You To Use. Post to multiple platforms. Pledge allegiance to no one. You don’t owe ’em nuttin’. Everybody Minecraft — stake your claim. Then restake it again tomorrow. The land’s wide open and there’s always more IPv6 to go around.


Craft Indie

Craft Indie is calculated indie. Laborious indie. Tie-your-brain-in-a-knot indie. No easier than it’s ever been. I’m talking about breathing your bits — really possessing, sculpting, caressing, caring for, caring after your bits. Knowing. Takes buckets of effort. And buckets be heavy.

Craft Indie takes you back to the early ’90s hex editing Renegade BBS software. Takes you back to the mid ’90s with a shell account and PPP emulator — pry open Mosaic, cue exploding head. Craft Indie can never be Mass Indie because the required toolkit is too yawning, esoteric, painful for all but those willing to obsess.

Craft Indie is lose your afternoon to RSS 2.0 vs Atom specifications indie. Craft Indie is .htaccessing the perfect URL indie. Craft Indie is cool your eyes don’t change indie. Craft Indie is pixel tweaking line-heights, margins, padding … of the copyright in the footer indie. Craft Indie is #efefe7 not #efefef indie. Craft Indie is fatiguing indie, you-gotta-love-it indie, you-gotta-get-off-on-this-mania indie.


Both indies are united by and predicated on openness. Universal accessibility. This is why to impinge on Net Neutrality is to impinge on the very quintessence of what makes the web the web. Lopsided hierarchy woven into the fabric of the web upends the beautiful latent power of online publishing. The dudette should not abide.

Furthermore, the contours of our words published online shimmer. They exist at well defined URLs, yes, but those URLs can be tenuous, disappearing or rendered useless by server failure, a reconfiguration, a missed payment to a domain registrar. And yet those same words are more easily copied and distributed at scale than ever before. Thanks to vast search engines, their precise address is less important than knowing a snippet of the content. Three or four words. That’s all you need. They’re probably somewhere, indexed and waiting.

The ideas of the indie web sits somewhere within these fuzzy contours. With the vast array of online publishing tools comes multiplicity. Multiplicity is our friend."

"To do indie. To be indie. To publish indie. The indie web? To talk about the indie web — Mass or Craft — is to talk about the web itself. Vast and open and universally accessible.

People ask: What software should I use to publish? Where should I publish? Should I build a platform to publish? How should I do it?

And I say: Whether you own your URL or not, your own app or not, whether you Tumblr or Wattpad, just publish. Export often? Yes. Backup feverishly? Of course. But publish everything everywhere. Anything anywhere. Publish twice, thrice, just don’t break the contract if ya got paid."
web  writing  2014  craigmod  publishing  openweb  internet  archiving  independence  adomainofone'sown  indie  publising  tumblr  livejournal  rss  urls  search  indexing  multiplicity  open  openness  netneutrality  redundancy  reclaimhosting  indieweb 
september 2014 by robertogreco
- How We Will Read: Clive Thompson
"[P]rint will remain around but will become much weirder. ... Print-on-demand machines have gone from being ridiculously expensive to the point where it’ll one day sit on your desk. Right now they’re about $100,000. In like 10 years, you’re going to be able to print a good-looking softcover at home. And things get really weird then. In the same way they got weird when you gave everyone word processing and then you gave them cheap printers and then you gave them Photoshop and design tools that were free. What you see with print on demand in the last couple of years is that there’s been explosion in the number of things printed, but they’re printed in small quantities: three, four, five copies total. "
publishing  book_arts  print_on_demand  future  indexing  via:jbushnell 
july 2012 by robertogreco
I Read Where I Am
"Exploring New Information Cultures"

"For example, words are colour-coded in a gradient from dark (more) to light (less) as a comparative value of frequency versus uniqueness. Also, several indexes are featured as random access interfaces to the articles. And finally, the subject matter in the texts is extended beyond the book through comparisons with Wikipedia entries of similar semantic meaning (micro- versus macro-context).So in essence, in the conceptualization of this book, we are not only trying to produce graphic and typographic design. But, by augmenting code and form with critical language theories, we are also practising what we like to call Digital Anthropology."
design  art  culture  future  writing  reading  toread  ellenlupton  kevinkelly  erikspiekermann  dunne&raby  jamesbridle  bobstein  digital  books  text  digitalanthropology  wikipedia  indexing  typography  criticallanguage  language  narrative  semantic  literaryanthropology  screens  screen  behavior  etexts  linguistics  bookfuturism  experience  fionaraby  anthonydunne 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Master Planner: Fred Brooks Shows How to Design Anything | Magazine
"Wired: How does a guy who grew up in the 1940s among North Carolina tobacco farmers get into computers?

Fred Brooks: I collected maps as a kid. I had tried all kinds of ways to index my map collection, which got me interested in the notion of automatic data retrieval. In 1944, when I was 13, I read about the Harvard Mark 1 computer in a magazine, and I knew then that computers was what I wanted to do...

Brooks: You can learn more from failure than success. In failure you’re forced to find out what part did not work. But in success you can believe everything you did was great, when in fact some parts may not have worked at all. Failure forces you to face reality...

Wired: Do you have any advice for young industrial designers and software architects?

Brooks: Design, design, and design; and seek knowledgeable criticism."
via:cervus  fredbrooks  collecting  collections  maps  programming  process  failure  history  computing  advice  technology  kevinkelly  indexing  dataretrieval  data  computers  interviews 
august 2010 by robertogreco

Copy this bookmark:

to read