Thursday, August 15, 2013

Notes to Myself

Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, was a polymath who constantly recorded data on weather, birds, crop prices, machines, flowering plants, and processes on to a set of pocket-sized ivory note cards.  He would then transfer the information to notebooks that he kept at Monticello. His penciled-in field notes were wiped clean from the ivory leaves every night.
Along with an ivory note pad, Jefferson also carried with him when he traveled, a small scale, a tape measure, a thermometer, a compass, and a small globe.
Believe it or not, you can buy an excellent little copy of Jefferson's ivory-leaf note pad, made from real ivory lifted from old piano keys, here. The brass mechanical pencil that comes with this small decks locks the whole thing shut for your pocket-- genius! 

This web site also takes you to a purveyor of 18th and 19th century clothes and other articles.  Their strap line: "Where Ben Franklin would shop if he were alive today."  Nice!
I myself use a slightly different note-taking system which relies on this little leather keeper of 3 by 5 cards (pictured below, on top of my Kindle).  
My first one of these came from Levenger many years ago, but a very good knockoff is available from Amazon for a fraction of the cost.  Yes, I know I could just use a 5 cent binder clip to hold a small stack of cards together, but this little leather keeper (aka a "pocket desk") can also hold business cards, receipts, cash, and a credit card, as well as a small pencil or pen (there is a loop for that on the side).
I write a lot.  It's how I learn, and it's how I remember.  Remembering and learning are two different things.
Learning is about creating a new synthesis out of two or more things that you find in the cupboard. It's cooking
Remembering is just retrieval.  It's heating up a pre-packaged dinner. 
The good news is that the cards help on both ends.  
Sometimes people think I am taking notes to remember later, but in fact I'm taking notes to remember now.  If I write it, I tend to remember it, and if I am actually trying to make sense out of it, I tend to create something slightly new out of it. 

It's hard to stir the beans without adding a few pepper flakes.
For the record, this blog is just a form of electronic note taking for me -- a place where I store information of a certain type -- a thing I do to learn

No comments:

Post a Comment