Saturday, August 22, 2015

Alphasmart Information

... can be found here. They still work and they have become a lot cheaper.

I'd recommend a Neo or Neo2.

And What about Your Desk?

There is another interesting series of pictures in The Guardian. This time, it is about people's desks, and whether they are messy, clean, or in between. It's nothing like Haruki Murakami's desk, in any case. Notice the pencils!

I'd say mine is in between, even though it is relatively small. (I do my writing by hand and in notebooks on a lap desk, in an easy chair, though I do keep a fountain pen and a mechanical pencil at the computer as well.)

I am not showing it because in the end I believe that the different states of the desk's surface per se are boring. When I visit colleagues in their offices I am more enthralled by the way they change over time. Do they clean them off at regular intervals (like, at the end of the semester)? I do ... or did.

The state of the desk is, of course, important for note-taking--at least to some extent

Friday, August 14, 2015


A personal wiki for Atom. See here.

What they say: "This project is based on the vimwiki package for vim, and strives for basic compatibility with that package. You should be able to point your awiki index to your vimwiki index and it should work just fine! Awiki supports only one wiki, which can be specified in the settings page. Pressing alt-w will open your wiki's index location. This can also be accessed from the main menu under Packages/Awiki/Open Wiki index." It uses free links.

I don't use Atom, so I have not tried it, but I thought someone might find this interesting! Nor have I ever tried Vimwiki. I doubt I ever will. No value judgment, but due to my limitations. I also suspect that the links will be broken when the target of the link is renamed.[1] This seems to be a problem with all wikis that are based in an editor (including nVALt and Notetab).

1. I may be wrong about that. See here. But I am not sure I understand what the author of the blog claims. It may be only that if you change the name of a file on the index page, both the file referred to and the referring links get changed in Vimwiki.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Book on "Zettelkasten Method"

See here. It's in German, however.

No further comment!

Dan Sheffler on "One Thought per Note"

See here. The reference is to this post. But this one on Beatrice Webb might be just as interesting, as might be the one on algorithmic thinking. In fact, the approach to take notes one idea or one "fact" at a time is one of the most basic features of my note-taking approach.

Video on "What is Happening to Luhmann's Zettelkasten?"

Here is a video about the digitization of Luhmann's Zettelkasten at the University of Bielefeld. Alas, it is in German. But some of the pictures may be interesting even if your German is less than perfect.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Penguin Notebooks

As should be abundantly clear from the past posts on this blog, I am a bit of a sucker for unusual notebooks. When I came across Penguin Notebooks, i.e. notebooks that look like Penguin titles, I had to have them.

It turn out, they are sold by Barnes & Noble here in the U.S.

I do already own some by the German publisher Suhrkamp:

My only criticism. They do not have the same format as the book series after which they are modelled. I think I will have the same problem with the Penguin Notebooks.

Some Observations on Notebooks

There is an interesting article by Ian Brown entitled A new year. A new notebook . You should read it.

The article ends with the "observation" or "claim": "We spend most of our lives pointed forward, peering into the future to see what’s coming, planning how we’ll respond. A notebook looks the other way, and knows how all that ended." Perhaps! But however that may be, this passage reminds me of Kierkegaard's quip in an entry in his Journal of 1843, where he finds:
It is perfectly true, as philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards. Anf if one thinks over that proposition it becomes more and more evident that life cannot be understood in time simply because at no particular moment can I find the necessary resting-place from which to understand it - backwards."

I am not sure about that alternative either. In any case, even if I agree with Kierkegaard that it is simply false that "life must be understood backwards" (whatever that may mean), old notebooks help me understand what I was concerned with in the past. This understanding is done from the perspective of the present. That's why I find it a good idea to revisit old notebooks every few years.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Gay Talese on Note-Taking

The American journalist and a nonfiction writer, Gay Talese tells us that, "instead of a notepad, I use shirt boards from the dry cleaner. I take a shirt board, and then I get scissors and cut it into note cards that I use like a notepad. I should patent the idea. I usually don’t take notes in front of my subjects; I sneak off and jot down things on these cards. They fit in my suit and don’t stick out like the wires on stupid little journalism pads."

"Exactly. I cut the shirt board into four parts and I cut the corners into round edges, so that they can fit in my pocket [breast pocket of his jackets, that is}. I also use full shirt boards when I’m writing my outlines. I’ve been doing this since the fifties."

Yes, and at night I type out my notes. It is a kind of journal. But not only my notes—also my observations ... my personal observations, what I myself was thinking and feeling during the day when I was meeting people and seeing things and making notes on shirt boards. When I’m typing at night, on ordinary pieces of typing paper, I’m not only dealing with my daily research, but also with what I’ve seen and felt that day. What I’m doing as a researching writer is always mixed up with what I’m feeling while doing it, and I keep a record of this. I’m always part of the assignment. This will be evident to anyone who reads my typed notes."

Besides the cut-up shirt-boards he carries a Montblanc pen or two ... of course.

An interesting way of recycling something that most of us put in the bin in one piece. I am as little tempted to imitate this way of note-taking as I am interested in following his way of dressing.

Does he use a computer? "No, not much. I move my longhand writing to a typewriter, then, at the end, I do use a computer like a typewriter. The only thing I like about the computer is the ease with which I can correct typos. I never begin writing on a computer, however. I want to “feel” the words as I put them on paper with the pointed edge of a sharply pointed pencil."

Too much "feeling" for me!