Links round-up #1
I have a confession to make.
My favourite type of newsletter isn’t, actually, the interesting long read that drops into my inbox now and then. It’s the links round-up – an email containing little but links to other interesting articles with a brief commentary on each. There’s something addictive about looking for links that whet my appetite, the little excerpts and summaries serving as tasters. I love it.
It took me a few weeks of thinking about it, but I concluded: why not start doing that myself? Create what you would want to read, and all that.
The plan is that each fortnight I will share 5–7 links to articles and video essays I thought were interesting. I will try to keep them themed to this blog’s subject matter – note-taking, knowledge management, and the historical – but sometimes I will briefly step outside that if I think the article is interesting enough.
Why we make lists (engelsbergideas.com)
Read time: 4 mins (867 words)
“Lists, and their numerical cousin, tallies, perform a dual function – they portend simply to inscribe what has happened, ‘everything that could be counted’, but they also preserve a trace of the material that was thought to be worth memorialising.”
How to nurture a personal library (Psyche.co)
Read time: 20 mins (5,116 words)
A beautiful essay on the physical nature of a book collection and the value of personal curation.
The digital death of collecting: How platforms mess with our tastes (kylechayka @ Substack)
Read time: 12 mins (3,105 words)
A thought-provoking and sobering essay on the way that digital platforms impact how we engage with content such as music – the difference between streaming on Spotify and curating your own CD collection. Similar to the above link on personal libraries, there’s almost an eulogy for the value of physical collections.
Charles Darwin’s note-making system (richardcarter.com)
Read time: 12 mins (3,024 words)
A fascinating tour through Darwin’s system of taking and storing notes. Whilst Darwin seems to have initially used notebooks, relatively early on he adopted the system of keeping loose slips of paper in folders. I also note that Darwin used the technique of making his own indexes to books as he read them, noting down pages for key topics of interest, much like Maria Popova’s method.
Joan Didion on Keeping a Notebook (The Marginalian)
Read time: 6 mins (1,450 words)
“The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself.”
“…our notebooks give us away, for however dutifully we record what we see around us, the common denominator of all we see is always, transparently, shamelessly, the implacable ‘I’.”
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