Skip

A Pile of Index Cards
August 27, 2007 8:09 AM   Subscribe

A Pile of Index Cards. A somewhat byzantine way to organize your life using index cards.
posted by chunking express (83 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
The entire system is explained in 84 photos. It is incredibly intricate and insane. [via 43 Folders]
posted by chunking express at 8:10 AM on August 27, 2007


How many cards say "spent day organizing and recording my life using index cards"?
posted by srboisvert at 8:15 AM on August 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


I can see the appeal. How it might be comforting.
posted by jiiota at 8:17 AM on August 27, 2007


I use something like this (not *nearly* so complex) to organize my duties at work - I get tons of "please can you do this for me" type requests via phone; each call gets a card, and a needs to be done by date, then they get filed by date. As a task is completed, the card is ripped up - very satisfying.
posted by anastasiav at 8:19 AM on August 27, 2007


I don't know why I find this sort of thing so compelling, but, well, I find this sort of thing so compelling. I love a system, and I love index cards, so, hey.

How many cards say "spent day organizing and recording my life using index cards"?

I remember a story (from Harpers, maybe?) that I read years ago, about an old man who kept a tremendously detailed diary of the events of his daily life. Just everything, every day. If I remember right, he spent an hour or two a day, not necessarily contiguous, recording and maintaining it. I wish I could find it, but I'm so hazy on the details at this point that I wouldn't know where to start. And blog trends in the interim have made naive searches on "journal" or "diary" a fool's game.
posted by cortex at 8:21 AM on August 27, 2007


Oh, man, I'm gonna be loving this. It'd be like a card catalog of my life! Thanks.
posted by DarkForest at 8:22 AM on August 27, 2007


I wish I had OCD so I could be this organized. I think I have anti-OCD: I actively resist doing anything. Especially twice.
posted by GuyZero at 8:30 AM on August 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Cortex said: I remember a story (from Harpers, maybe?) that I read years ago, about an old man who kept a tremendously detailed diary of the events of his daily life. Just everything, every day.

That sounds so familiar. I remember reading about a man who recorded what time he woke up, what he had to eat, the weather, the temperature, his own temperature, visitors, errands, what came in the mail, etc... I wish I were that organized and diary-oriented. Just think of what a treasure trove something like that would be to future generations (sometimes the minutiae of daily life is way more intriguing than the big events).
posted by amyms at 8:31 AM on August 27, 2007


Cortex -- not an old man, but were you thinking of Lion Kimbro, by any chance?

For myself, I couldn't bring myself to do that. It would feel like such a waste of index cards to tear them up.

I just keep a running to-do list. I cut and paste items to the bottom when they're done, so I can look back and see what's completedn and approximately when it got done. (Very useful when billing time comes around.)
posted by lodurr at 8:32 AM on August 27, 2007


And meanwhile, not from Harpers, but here's the index-card system at the heart of Robert Pirsig's novel Lila. I heartily recommend the linked extract to all fellow index-card obsessives.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 8:34 AM on August 27, 2007


There's something so counter-intuitive about this whole movement -- the most tech-savvy, super-productivity oriented people essentially coming up with systems (card catalogs) that were abandoned years ago as inefficient and then claiming they've discovered a new way to Get Things Done.
posted by proj at 8:34 AM on August 27, 2007 [5 favorites]


... and my dad used to advocate the minute diary approach for two things: Controlling your caloric intake (it's easier to just not eat than to have to write it all down), and controlling your spending (same deal). They both work, sort of. This kind of thing is so personality driven, though.
posted by lodurr at 8:35 AM on August 27, 2007


Not Lion, but I hadn't seen that post previously, so thanks. This was definitely an older gent, and the whole thing may have been done on paper for all I can recall—I have a distinct (and hopefully not retconned) impression of a man with a quiet, retired life alone.
posted by cortex at 8:38 AM on August 27, 2007


Just think of what a treasure trove something like that would be to future generations (sometimes the minutiae of daily life is way more intriguing than the big events).

I remember this too. The thing is, that's exactly why he was doing it-- it was partly a fantasy of giving a kind of gift to future generations. He included things like hair and so on for DNA analysis. It's like he saw himself as the Samuel Pepys of the 20th century. I just see obssession, I'm afraid.
posted by jokeefe at 8:39 AM on August 27, 2007


cortex: I recall that he was married, and that his wife was rather ambivalent about his pursuit....
posted by jokeefe at 8:40 AM on August 27, 2007


I recall exactly what you're talking about as well cortex. And as you note, it's difficult to search for "crazy old man and his journal" in Google.
posted by chunking express at 8:41 AM on August 27, 2007


Oh, and I also seem to recall that it was a constant activity-- he couldn't sit and have lunch without simultaneously recording what he was eating. I remember it being much more pathological than anything else-- something hugely compulsive.
posted by jokeefe at 8:42 AM on August 27, 2007


the glory of life
is reduced to index cards
alas, seppuku
posted by calhound at 8:42 AM on August 27, 2007


This idea has tipped I see. The "Hipster PDA" has been circulating in the memosphere for a while.

The problem with this is the same problem I have with carrying around any flavor of paper notebook from l' Moleskine to Mead:

Ass sweat.

I said it.

Paper doesn't behave like my plastic/metal pda or phone. It bends, yellows, absorbs everything around it and becomes unseemly to maintain. It also does just this one thing, so I can't call someone with it and I can't reply to someone from it.

I applaud the "simple list" notion I guess. I don't really like taking notes on my pda, but handwriting is worse.
posted by abulafa at 8:42 AM on August 27, 2007


Oh and as for the efficiency question: this is a great example of a purpose-built single-user experience.

Scaling above that would reveal the same insane inefficiencies as card catalogs or any physical-medium based system.
posted by abulafa at 8:45 AM on August 27, 2007


Found it!

The "crazy old man" was named Robert Shields. He was mentioned on boingboing back in December.
posted by Bromius at 8:46 AM on August 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


Cool, thanks Bromius!
posted by amyms at 8:49 AM on August 27, 2007


abulafa said: The problem with this is the same problem I have with carrying around any flavor of paper notebook from l' Moleskine to Mead:

Ass sweat.


You're not supposed to store the pages in your ass, silly.
posted by amyms at 8:50 AM on August 27, 2007


Found it!

You're a mensch, Bromius.

Ass sweat.

When I carried a PDA, I never put it anywhere that it would have been susceptible to ass sweet—not because of the ass sweat itself, but because I'd end up sitting on it and converting it into an expensive paperweight. So carrying a Moleskine in my front pocket never really seems like a problem either.
posted by cortex at 8:53 AM on August 27, 2007


Is this like a relational database on paper? I'm confused, we have these things called computers that let you make systems utilizing things as simple as directory structure + file name to as complex as some database driven, automatically cross referenced via Yahoo, Google, and various libraries, real time non biological mind extension. And backups are trivial. I'm too tired to snark properly. Carry on.
posted by Grod at 8:54 AM on August 27, 2007


... ass sweat.

Can be coped with.

At some point I gathered all the different pens I had and wrote something, identical, in each of them. Then I swiped the sheet with alcohol* and water, to see which held up best.

As I recall, of the practical choices, sharpie was best of all by a long shot (but impractical -- too hard to write with quickly); of the rest, standard paste ink fared best against water, and gel ink best against alcohol. Rollerball runs like crazy with one or the other of the two. Gel did great against alcohol, not too bad against water, and was almost as easy to write with as rollerball. So I mostly use gel or paste-ink.

Pencils are best of all for that, of course, but I wanted something that would always leave a mark if it were removed. Too easy to erase pencil.

I use Moleskines. When I started on them, 14 notebooks ago, I would run through about one a month. I go through them more slowly now -- three to four months -- and they're pretty beat to hell by the end of that time. But I almost never carry them in my back pocket. Carrying that long in a back pocket would reduce it to a bunch of folded pieces of paper with some string mixed in. They're fairly tough, but not that tough.

When I start a new one, I number the volume and the pages right away, and I date the top of each page whne I start writing. It's been useful, because I can just make a note that says soemthing like "0 p89" ("this book" [0], page 89) instead of summarizing. It's like low-tech hyperlinking.

I was just thinking (again) this morning about notebooks in comparison with ubicomp-related ideas about ubiquitous information availability, and I'm having a hard time imagining my notebook going away at any time before I get non-volatile RAM embedded in my brainstem, and don't need any external UI hardware to access it.

--
*In a word: Bars.
posted by lodurr at 9:00 AM on August 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


... or when I write in my log that I keep on my work computer, I can type "nbk 0" on a particular day, and I know to look at my moleskine entry for that date. Works for me. Other people shake their heads in puzzlement.
posted by lodurr at 9:02 AM on August 27, 2007


Bob Graham, '04 presidential candidate, is also a meticulous diarist.
posted by adamrice at 9:06 AM on August 27, 2007


The front pocket for a Moleskine? My front pockets just aren't that big I guess.

Anyhow, that's where cash and the aforementioned cell/pda go. And now that the pda/phone is much smaller than a Moleskine...

to each their own I suppose.

I love my Moleskine, don't get me wrong, just not for day-to-day. Only because it can't be with me all the time.
posted by abulafa at 9:07 AM on August 27, 2007


The front pocket for a Moleskine? My front pockets just aren't that big I guess.

In slacks or cargos? Yeah, no problem. Doesn't work quite so well with jeans if I need to sit down a lot, but often times if I'm packing a notebook I'm probably going out somewhere I expect to take notes, which means either a lot of walking around or a lot of sitting around with notebook in hand or both.

I don't really carry it with me to work most days, though, unless I'm cranking away at a specific project (e.g.), because proximity to a computer works well enough in a pinch—I write a lot of drafts in gmail for this sort of thing, and print out music staff paper as needed if I have an idea I want to jot down and don't have my staff notebook with me. So I guess I agree with you functionally on the "not for day-to-day" side of things.
posted by cortex at 9:18 AM on August 27, 2007


The problem here is the media affects the message. It's limited by the size of the index card. So long as the information is index-card friendly, but I can't see "daily thoughts" as limited to the size of an index card.

It would be a great system for writing a book or magazine article bringing together disparate thoughts and sources over time which can then be physically layed out and organized on a story board.
posted by stbalbach at 9:25 AM on August 27, 2007


I was just thinking (again) this morning about notebooks in comparison with ubicomp-related ideas about ubiquitous information availability, and I'm having a hard time imagining my notebook going away at any time before I get non-volatile RAM embedded in my brainstem, and don't need any external UI hardware to access it.

Rudimentary information ubiquity already exists. You just have to be willing to hand the information over to your friendly neighborhood Giant Internet Corporation (or have the know-how and access to set up your own server.) I've been known to use the GMail app on my cell phone to leave notes for myself, and put "to-do" items on my calendar so that I can check them via the web.

(I refuse to try the mobile version of Facebook, though. Information ubiquity is nice, but too-much-information ubiquity is where I draw the line.)
posted by djlynch at 9:31 AM on August 27, 2007


The disorganizer in me sees only the abyss in those photos. And the abyss looks back at me. It's scary. Although I am routinely the only person who pulls out pen and paper when taking notes at meetings (taking notes on a laptop seems odd to me), I can't get behind recording such a meticulous level of detail. It just seems obsessive to me-- I need a system to help me work, not a system that becomes my work.

And somewhat on topic, for the notebook fans with sweaty pockets:

A Rite In The Rain notebook and a pencil will get you through most conditions, sweat and otherwise. You gotta use pencil, though.

Uni-ball rollerball waterproof pens have a fine point and ink that doesn't run, even if soaked in alcohol. Even 95% ethanol. I love those freaking things.

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Rite In The Rain or Uniball. I do think Rite In the Rain notebooks are made of awesome and try to acquire freebies at conferences, though.
posted by Tehanu at 9:43 AM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Long commute is perfect for this, because not much else you can do and sometimes (often) I don't feel like reading. I can write in foreign langauge so I would look at who's sitting near me and make sure they don't look like they'd read my language (although there can be mistakes here..) and write away. I liked rather large notebooks with coil springs and hard front and back. That way it's easy to write on and it flips over itself and takes up small space on the knee. The size I liked is a little smaller than standard letter size. For me, the type of pen makes a good deal of difference and I prefered a fountain pen called rotring core. And when it would run out I found that staples cheap gel pens, the ones with a cap, have the best and smoothest ink flow. It's silly but I hate when a pen is tough to write with. Lately I don't keep a diary, though. When you're talking about things like that, it's important to establish some slower and upper limit right away, otherwise you'll either quit right away or keep at it for a long time but still feel guilty when you stop.
posted by rainy at 9:44 AM on August 27, 2007


Bic spiro medium point is the only pen for me. Let its ink run, it's thick and not-quite-black and doesn't feel scratchy the way UniBalls do. And it's cheap as hell and makes a decent drinking straw (and can be easily cut and modified into pocket-sized).

(Here beginneth "Your favorite pen/paper combination sucks"...)
posted by abulafa at 9:53 AM on August 27, 2007


Rudimentary information ubiquity already exists.

Too rudimentary for me, at least until Google rolls out their offline cached web apps (which I keep hearing are in beta with some mysterious corporate customers). See, problem #1 is that net access is just not ubiquitous enough yet -- I end up wanting to work in too many places where I can't get online. And I'm very unsure about the UI on the PDA phones -- I looked at the HTC sliders (my digits are too big for Treos and the like) but it was hard to justify the expenditure without knowing that it would be useful for me. (Size on those is quite attractive, though...) Same deal with the Nokia Communicator (was that close to bidding on a 9300).

As for the notebook, the UI is easy and amazingly flexible (I can write on the facing page to start a second stream or insert text! It never powers down! I can sketch with anything that's handy!). I'd definitely carry a notebook (which I carry everywhere, almost all the time -- my wife says it's like an extension of my brain) even if I had a super-fancy PDA phone.

Plus, hardly anybody wants to steal a notebook. Lots of folks want to steal a nice phone.
posted by lodurr at 9:55 AM on August 27, 2007


If I ever met someone who's given themselves over to this idea of GTD, let me bet the best, most productive little consumer drone / corporate cog that I can be, I would surely be inclined to punch them in the face, or, even better, piss on their index cards. Same goes for consumerist.com.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:58 AM on August 27, 2007


Tehanu: A Rite In The Rain notebook and a pencil

As someone with a specialty stationary fetish, I must say I love this product. Some of the paper came unexpectedly with a clipboard I bought on ebay. It works perfectly in the shower, in the pounding surf, underwater!

I think it's plastic but with the molded micro texture of paper, very strong, great surface.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:00 AM on August 27, 2007


Sweet tapdancing jeebus, forget what I said about the Bic Biro Medium Point. Used to be you could work the end cap out without much effort, snip the body in two and replace the cap.

On a whim I just tried this again. Apparently the end cap is now vat-grown symbiotically embedded in its pen/host and fights for dear life to remain so.

All those days of easy to build pea-shooters, dashed...
posted by abulafa at 10:00 AM on August 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


(Here beginneth "Your favorite pen/paper combination sucks"...)

Oh, you wish. I've seen pen/notebook threads before. They're more like classic car meets. It's more or less the opposite, in other words -- everybody wants to show off what they do, and secretly looking for something cool to do with their own pens and notebooks.

I have a cheap stainless steel Schaeffer clicker that can take a gel ink cartridge; that's my pen of choice, but I can't find the cartridges.

My fave pen for a long time was a little gel ink thing that looked like an aluminum and rubber teardrop -- very cool looking, an old GF got me one and had it engraved. But it got lost. Most of the time I carry Pilot G-2 gel pens -- the short kind, so they fit easily in the pocket, blue or black.

I was big on fountain pens for while. I felt they slowed me down and forced me to think more about what I was writing. But they're temperamental. I decided I'd rather have something that was reliable.
posted by lodurr at 10:01 AM on August 27, 2007


Uni-ball rollerball waterproof pens...

I have not seen these pens. The only Uni-balls I've used ran like hell. I love the way they write, though -- kind of like a fast fountain pen.
posted by lodurr at 10:04 AM on August 27, 2007


loudrr: recently went on a campaign to find pocket-sized pens (in vain pursuit of trying to carry around previously-mentioned Moleskine more often). Space pens of various makes are pretty good and collapse to about the width of a Moleskine, but I'm convinced it's just a matter of time until I lose those (and refill cartridges are expensive and mail-order-only).

I found the Zebra F301 which is the right form-factor but feels cheap.

If the Moleskine folks would just be so kind as to give me a reinforced binding with room enough to clip or stash a writing instrument, I would happily, um... buy more of their product. Meh.

You can always bind your notecards together with a clippy-style iPod Shuffle.
posted by abulafa at 10:09 AM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Anything important that needs to get done, I write it on my ass with half a sharpie... that about right?
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:11 AM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'll be the first to adopt vocal recognition-based organizational implants. Until then, the only thing I can be consistent with is Outlook. Gross, huh?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:13 AM on August 27, 2007


I wish I was flexible enough to write on my own ass.

I mean scribbling "JUICY" is easy, but writing "Add rollback to cust tbl, trigger on cancel or backorder" is, well, tougher.
posted by abulafa at 10:13 AM on August 27, 2007


I use IBM 5081 tab cards, because 1) I have about 30,000 of them, 2) they fit into my shirt pocket (eliminates ass sweat) and 3)sentimental value- I used to work on card readers/punches.
Similarities include the weight of the stock, ease of sorting + prioritizing, and difficulty downloading.
posted by MtDewd at 10:15 AM on August 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Speaking of those Juicy sweatpants, wouldn't it be great if you could get a pair that just said "ASS"? I'd wear a pair of those in a hot second.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:16 AM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


but writing "Add rollback to cust tbl, trigger on cancel or backorder" is, well, tougher

See, this is where the LongPen earns its ink.
posted by cortex at 10:17 AM on August 27, 2007


The advantage of the index stack over a notebook is that you can constantly add and remove pages, and change their order.

I've been keeping an eye out for a good way to do this in book format (or a way to build a book that can do this) but while there are many systems that allow it, I've yet to find one that isn't a pain to use. Some (like ring binders) allow fairy easy page swapping, but just don't compare to a book when it comes to simply turning a page. Others are the opposite - the binding is much like a book, but the time/effort involved in swapping out pages is much higher.

:-(
posted by -harlequin- at 10:18 AM on August 27, 2007


Tehanu, you say that you have to use the Rite in the Rain notebooks with pencil. I'm looking at their site right now, and can't see anything about that. Is that a practical requirement, or is it just the best way to use them?

Man, they have some cool shit...
posted by lodurr at 10:18 AM on August 27, 2007


-harlequin-, there's a moleskine-sized index card holder. I don't own one, but I've looked at them -- it's basically a tiny accordion file for 3x5s. Shelved next to the other Moleskine products at your local Moleskine retailer.
posted by lodurr at 10:21 AM on August 27, 2007


Interesting. I use index cards for several things, but not to that extent.

Nabokov composed his novels on index cards.
posted by trip and a half at 10:35 AM on August 27, 2007




The memo pocket thing looks cool. I use the corner of a cardboard USPS mailer, cut to 3x5, covered in useful information (calendar, comics) and then clear packing tape. I keep two dozen notecards and a MTA map in there.

If I could get one made OUT OF an MTA map, that would be perfect.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 11:10 AM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I wish I had OCD so I could be this organized.

Those of us who have OCD find statements like this to be incredibly ignorant of what the disorder actually entails.

You simply wish you were more organized, which is entirely attainable. You do not wish you had OCD.
posted by agregoli at 11:11 AM on August 27, 2007


You do not wish you had OCD.

You are:

( ) Correct.
( ) Humourless.
(X) All of the above.
posted by GuyZero at 11:17 AM on August 27, 2007 [7 favorites]


We use write-in-the-rains with pressurized pens (Fisher "space" pens, essentially) for field notes at work. Ink doesn't apply very well on the write-in-the-rain sufrace when the "paper" is wet or cold. Pencil doesn't work well in the cold either. The best thing, as lodurr says above, is a sharpie. Sharpie does make a very fine tipped one now, less than a mm, which is perfect for our purposes.
posted by bonehead at 11:25 AM on August 27, 2007


I wonder what Borges would think of this.
posted by blucevalo at 11:32 AM on August 27, 2007


I expect he'd be amused. And maybe take some notes about it.
posted by lodurr at 11:38 AM on August 27, 2007


Thanks, bonehead. Wishlist here I come...
posted by lodurr at 11:39 AM on August 27, 2007


My friends, let me tell you about the most wonderful things in the world: Vertical lined 3x5s.

Levenger and Cranes make RIDICULOUSLY expensive vertically lined cards to put in their pocket briefcases, and they're nice and all personalized and crap, but not really worth it for the work I do. I need something that costs about a penny a piece.

Well, I looked everywhere for other vertically lined cards and I couldn't find them anywhere. For some reason, nobody made them. Even though, if you're using the cards to take notes, vertical RULZ horizontal (don't believe me? Try it!) I found a printer locally that would make them for me, but they couldn't understand why it was important for me for the cards to actually be CARDSTOCK (hello?) and it was going to be expensive, so I just gave it up.

So, a few weeks ago, I was in the LSU college bookstore and I found the vertically lined cards (glued together to make a pad, but easy to pull off) and I bought all the store had (at $2.50 a piece, more than twice what I wanted to pay, but...

After I found out who made them (Oxford), I tried to buy them straight from the company...no deal. So, I hopped on to Froogle.com and found a college bookstore in Ohio that had the cards for $1.09 for a pack of a hundred and low shipping rates, so I bought everything they had.

If I use at least one or two cards a day, I should run out in about 10 or 12 years. By that time, I will have hopefully found a new distributor.
posted by ColdChef at 12:06 PM on August 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


The renowned Gordon Bell, the SenseCam and the 24x7x365 archiving of his life: MyLifeBits.
posted by ericb at 12:16 PM on August 27, 2007


Speaking of those Juicy sweatpants, wouldn't it be great if you could get a pair that just said "ASS"? I'd wear a pair of those in a hot second.

Divine_Wino, you may be interested in these pants from the famous Hot Dog Johnny's in Buttzville, NJ.
posted by amelliferae at 12:17 PM on August 27, 2007


lodurr: I recommend a pencil from experience. I've used the paper outside, literally in the rain, as well as indoors when completely dry. I think the paper gets its magical rain-defying properties from a waxy coating, and I suspect that coating is why I've had problems with ink smearing once the book's closed and the pages get pressed together. I think the wax prevents the ink from entirely entering the paper. I've noticed that pencil lead is better at staying legible. Sure, pencil loses some clarity after the pages have rubbed together long term (i.e. a field season), since graphite does smear a bit, but for me it's always been far more legible in the long run than any of the inks I've tried.

There is a waterproof Uniball. I tried several other "waterproof" Uniballs that people had lying around first unsuccessfully (hence the 95% ethanol soak test). I needed labels that would stay labeled over long term in alcohol. I used to know the item number for the real waterproof pen in one of the office supply catalogs. It may be this one or this one. There was a similar looking one that said "waterproof" that wasn't, which is why the catalog number was important. A safer bet would be pens sold for use in specimen labeling (Bioquip for example has some). At the time those were the more expensive option for me.

I don't use Rite in the Rain + pencil for general office tasks-- but I will vouch for them in sweaty, rainy conditions. Or sweaty pockets. Or... note taking in bars.
posted by Tehanu at 12:24 PM on August 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Married life limits the note-taking in bars (which is generally a good thing), but I still carry the thing everywhere so it's bound to get wet.

Per unit, Rite in the Rain is cheaper than Moleskines. The only things they don't have are the elastic band and pocket. I will be checking them out, for sure.
posted by lodurr at 12:33 PM on August 27, 2007


This and this are the markers we use, lodurr. The second one is a really nice choice for portability.
posted by bonehead at 1:10 PM on August 27, 2007


For the non-luddites in the audience, check out Todoist.

I can totally identify with this guy though.
posted by phrontist at 1:14 PM on August 27, 2007


You do not wish you had OCD.

You are:

( ) Correct.
( ) Humourless.
(X) All of the above.


I don't find it funny when people make light of a very serious and annoying mental disorder. But chuckle all you want - all it does is reveal your immaturity and callousness.
posted by agregoli at 1:25 PM on August 27, 2007


Won't it be nice when finally we have the ability to make "e-mental" notes? (which will then instantaneously transcribe themselves to some infinte database). Ahhhhh. Satisfying.
posted by meh at 1:40 PM on August 27, 2007


I don't know whether this is incredibly cool, or incredibly sad. One thing I do know, I love stationery. And in the end, isn't that all that matters?

*Is totally looking forward to equipping himself for next semester*
posted by djgh at 2:03 PM on August 27, 2007


Here's my remaining stack of vertically lined index cards.
posted by ColdChef at 2:31 PM on August 27, 2007


This looks interesting: Field Notes

(Plus, they've got a MetaFilter connection.)
posted by ColdChef at 3:30 PM on August 27, 2007


I don't find it funny

Hence "humourless".
posted by mendel at 3:32 PM on August 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Re Robert Shields, Gordon Bell, et al.:
[I thought it would be useful] if somebody kept a very accurate record of a human being, going through the era from the Gay '90s, from a very different kind of world through the turn of the century—as far into the twentieth century as you might live. I decided to make myself a good case history of such a human being and it meant that I could not be judge of what was valid to put in or not. I must put everything in, so I started a very rigorous record.

R. Buckminster Fuller, Oregon Lecture #9, p. 324, 12 July 1962
The Dymaxion Chronofile includes papers from as early as 1895, becomes very extensive around 1916, becomes a formal project of Fuller's in 1917, and acquires 15-minute granularity, as near as I can gather, in 1920. It continues until Fuller's death in 1983 and occupies 270 shelf-feet.

... Now, back to checking out these index cards.
posted by eritain at 5:11 PM on August 27, 2007


I'm sorry - - (and this probably means that I'm a bad person...) - - but I just think it's hilarious that the "Pile of Cards" wiki is badly organized.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 8:28 PM on August 27, 2007


ColdChef- are you planning to buy or build boxes to organize the massive amount of thoughts and GTD lists that will be written on the massive amount of cards that you have purchased?
One word: Circa.
posted by hipaa_chik at 11:38 AM on August 28, 2007


Damn you and your Circa logic!

(I know you're right.)
posted by ColdChef at 1:13 PM on August 28, 2007


lodurr: Rite in the Rain notebooks with pencil

The Rite in the Rain paper I had, had instructions specifying pencil. Which does work completely underwater, with a natural look and feel. It seems like the whole effect is really geared around using pencil.
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:16 PM on August 28, 2007


ColdChef- I'm just jealous that your system is cooler than mine and, in some ways, more portable than mine. I have to at least mention the PocketMod here, though.
posted by hipaa_chik at 7:50 PM on August 28, 2007


Wow, this was amazing. Part of me wishes I could be that organized, but frankly I don't want to *do* so many things that's it hard to keep track of them.

I actually have upwards of 700 4 x 6 cards that I bought with the ambition of having some sort of system to keep track of all the good ideas I had and so forth, but I never got it off the ground. The most I can manage is a pile underneath my monitor that I write a few useful pieces of information on. I'm always losing the one I'm looking for, though.

I am not sure quite why but I love the 4 x 6 size that I am rather a snob about it. I just can't stand 3 x 5, they're too small. I don't come close to filling my big cards, but that's the point - I like the security of knowing I'll always have enough space. I'm always on the lookout for special 4 x 6 cards and supplies, but they are hard to find. I have a set of Oxford recipe ones that I bought years ago and can no longer find, so they are very precious to me (just like my buff-colored E-2 paper! (aka engineer's quad paper)) and I'd only use them for something truly important.

What really grinds my gears is I keep finding all these gorgeous types of 3 x 5 cards and organizers for them and so forth, and of course the best stuff simply doesn't exist for 4 x 6. It's a fucking conspiracy! All those damn 3 x 5-ists are keeping the good stuff out of the market.

What I used to do occasionally was print off the cards on my printer. Rather obvious but I liked the idea of not having to re-copy quotes and so forth that I found online, and yet have them on the cards.

I had an idea that might help to organize things chronologically more quickly, if I were to take the approach of this guy and make chronological sorting a big goal of mine. Just grab a big hunk of cards before you use them and draw an *angled* stripe across the top edge. You can easily put them in order without having to actually read the dates. You could use different colors for different weeks or whatever, even double-striping etc.

I'm the laziest, most disorganized person I know, but I sure love my index cards.
posted by marble at 9:36 PM on August 28, 2007


I used to be extremely disorganized, now I'm just very disorganized. I think it's very difficult to go from zero organization to using an elaborate system consistently and effectively. Doing a couple of very simple things can go a long way. For example, here's what I did.

I carry a two-page-per-month pocket calendar in my shirt pocket. I also carry a 3x5 inch spiral-bound memo book (about 80 pages, binding on the left) in the same pocket, along with a pen (Uniball Micro 207 gel pen, black, for what it's worth). I look like a nerd, but then I am a nerd.

I write notes chronologically in the notebook, on one side of each page. I date every note; you could get by with dating each page (or just dating the book; I started out that way but quickly decided it wasn't good enough). I draw a horizontal line between entries. Chronological order is a surprisingly powerful organizing principle.

It's not perfect, by a long shot, but it's a huge improvement over nothing. If you're completely unorganized, it might be a good way to start. Incremental is good.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 10:21 PM on August 28, 2007


Chronological order is a surprisingly powerful organizing principle.

Oh, good grief, yes. If you save and label the notebooks, all you need to do in order to locate something is specify the date. And if you can just remember the general time frame in which something came up, you can flip through a limited number of pages to find it.

I do something similar on my work computer. I have a template test file that has neatly bounded chunks corresponding to each day of the month. I save a new version every month. If something comes up that I need to take note of, I note it on that date. I don't delete date blocks -- having them there, blank, is significant data for me, and it's not like wasting paper.

Since they're just text, they're indexed by Spotlight, and can be read on anything. I've thought about doing them in HTML, but I haven't found a WYSIWYG HTML editor that's as easy to use as a basic text editor.

Anyway: I used to use the spirals (I preferred top-rings, because they were easier to slip into my pocket). I would keep some stuff (like running tallies of my batch keystroke rate, which my job depended on) in the back so they were together; I do something similar with my moleskines, now. Spirals are way cheaper than moleskines or anything like them, and way better than nothing.
posted by lodurr at 5:20 AM on August 29, 2007


A bunch of things you can do with a Moleskine. This seems as good a place as any to post this.
posted by chunking express at 11:38 AM on August 29, 2007


« Older American Knockoffs   |   The season of Bounty Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post