I collect a lot of links to articles that I've read using pinboard.in. However, I fairly frequently end up searching through those bookmarks to find the article that I remembered reading. I suppose once or a few times per month. It's especially useful for bookmarking specific scientific studies, or papers presenting engineering techniques, etc., where it's useful to remember "I recall reading about that" and be able to get back to the original.
Not only that, but also
> Just knowing about a thing is less than superficial since knowing about is merely to be certain of its existence, nothing more.
Sometimes just having a sketchy map of the territory is infinitely more useful to learning than knowing nothing at all. Of course we should strive for more than that, but when push comes to shove, a person with a rough map will waste less time in learning what they must, than someone who has no map at all.
OTOH people often seek me out for pointers to code/libraries/tickets/books etc at work and in my circle of professional friends. I'm kind of like a librarian.
I have a Commodore 64C, monitor, floppy drive, and a pile of disks, I've used that once. I've two ZX Spectrum machines (one in a dk'tronics keyboard, nonfunctional) and a Spectrum 128, with 50 or so tapes and one of those Microdrives plus some cartridges.
My father is the same with DVDs, he has a couple of thousand. The dad of one of my friends has double that. His lounge has a wooden shelf hacked together, that thing stands floor-to-ceiling along one side of the room, wraps around a corner, and is packed solid with DVDs. Babylon 5, Red Dwarf, Monkey, the Goodies, Paint Your Wagon ("Gonna paint that wagon, gonna paint it good, we ain't braggin', we're gonna coat that wood"), the list goes on.
To me, my collecting and never doing anything with the items seems almost like a sickness. I still have all my University texts - I justify it to myself by quoting a friend of mine who said "I don't believe in selling textbooks, they might come in handy some day." They won't, most of them are more than a decade old, but I still can't bring myself to get rid of these books that cost me hundreds. It was hard enough dumping those ISA cards that were no use to anybody - and I still have a stack of 500 megabyte IDE drives somewhere.
I understand your tabs behaviour - I am the same, but once when I come to 90-ish, I start culling session to cut it to more reasonable number.
Now I want to get the Spectrum out for a play, but I expect I'll lie down until the urge passes!
Thinking I might do a re-cap on each of the machines, two of the capacitors on the Commodore are a little bulgy. It is a 30something year old machine, though!
That said, I've given away a ton of books lately, and plan on keeping the books I own to a minimum until I have the means to construct a really strong library, which I do think is a positive endeavor.
Also, tangentially related, does anyone have any suggestions on a good org to donate books to? I've seen one too many awesome sets of books mangled in Goodwill bins, and am looking for a new option.
Also, it's a way of collecting things you could read; a wishlist, if you like. Having a wishlist is fine for things you don't need to do.
A couple of things I do:
- I don't buy books on Kindle. I just send a sample to my tablet. If I finish the sample, maybe I'll buy it. Otherwise, I avoided paying for it.
- Similarly, for any purchase on Amazon that's not urgent, I just add it to the shopping cart. If I decide I don't want it later, I avoided buying it.
Now consider that Umberto Eco
1. was, in contrast to Alan Kay, a full-time writer, so reading books was basically his job
2. lived till the age of 84
3. probably required a solid library of reference works (which are not supposed to be read from front to back) for his kind of work
4. was a polyglot and his library possibly contained the same books in different languages
it is not too unreasonable that he had read most of the (non-reference) books in his library.
If I took a book and stripped it down to the bare information, as you'd like, and then read this new information-pure skeleton, I wouldn't remember it as I would if I just read the book. I might only remember a few facts about Thomas Jefferson after reading a bio about him, but I wouldn't remember any facts if I just read the facts.
My hypothesis as to why this is true (disclaimer: this comes almost entirely from introspection):
My mind doesn't store memories like a hard drive, you have to tell it a story (so to speak) to get it to remember what you said. My mind doesn't integrate purely relational data, it integrates narrative data. Yes, an important part of a narrative is context and relational information, but another key part of it is the cadence, the spaces interleaved between the stuff we remember. Unless your point was that we actually need a new architecture for our brains, I strongly disagree, albeit on a purely anecdotal basis.
A longer book is correlated, in the audience mind, with more content, more research done, more of an investment to read it hence more of a payoff ("it's a book you have to study"), and also more time spent reading it so potentially more pleasure, even for non-fiction.
Unfortunately, when you read a lot, these propositions start to become cons, and you'd often rather have just the meat--granted, not in a plastic plate, to run the culinary metaphor, but not with the three-hour ceremonial of the (would-be) fancy restaurant either.
When I think back to books that I've read that felt like they had too much filler, I have to admit that many of the memories are the concepts via the anecdotes.
Quite often I just get partly there by explaining something to myself as if I'm teaching myself, but it seems to have some benefit (but also with the introspection disclaimer there).
But you might find that as other commentators point out, without the original packaging, although the summarized book contains all of the insights of the original, it is hard to retain the information.
Yesterday that was <https://www.homenethowto.com/>, where I eventually gave up on Google & DuckDuckGo and instead went to the home networking subreddit that I thought might just have it because it really is a great website. They did (and its probably where I found it originally).
And me reading an article is not too useful if I can't find it later.
For me, creativity seems to spur from mixing and matching a minimal amount of basic elements. Creativity is very close to mastering a computer programming language. In general, you only need to command a paintbrush well to compose great paintings. You only need to know 30 keywords to make amazing programs. It's better to make use of general purpose tools really well to my specific needs than to employ a whole bunch of specialized tools. Having specialized tools is the answer only when I need to copy and mass produce something.
It's not just in tech -- I understand they need to sell shit. Even in education, there are courses of "data science in X" or "X statistics" offered at every university for every field. One of my friends (who is doing a PhD) recently asked me to help with one of her assignments for her course. Basically, it was just two hours of boring shit teaching her to use graphs with various examples in her field X, I just jumped in and helped with what I knew, which has nothing to do with her field X. Why can't it be just a general-purpose data science or statistics course?
With this rate, sometime in the future, we'll have sous-vide device just for 20-year-old blonde people who are married instead of just a thermometer that works for everyone. Rand's razor and all that.
I like writing, and sourcing things I've read into new work seems the best way to learn, retain and think critically. Essays from high school and Universities need not be an end. Having a professional blog where you organize your ideas and opinions means you have to put some real research into them.
Party conversation opinions are backed up with real stuff you look up, and you can feel more confident in expressing a critical opinion instead of parroting, inaccurately, something you may have read
I disagree with his point that notes actually do represent assimilated information in a way that the books themselves don't. Notes might guarantee a certain level of assimilation, but they don't qualify as "knowledge" in the way the author maintains. There's other good reasons to keep notes, but not because they're more a part of your knowledge base than the book itself.
I can imagine a primary source that’s important in your life becomes part of your knowledge, too, because you ... well, got to know it so well. But that really isn’t the point, since mere collecting is the opposite of familiarizing yourself with the material.
Edit: I should say I thought your article was interesting and useful in general, and I don't think my disagreement takes away from the general message that owning things is pointless, what matters is engaging with the world.
No notes -> wiki -> searchable flat wiki(s) (TXT note on a text editor)
Collect most -> collect relevant -> collect relevant and recurrently digest it (manually throw away what became irrelevant)
Some extra thoughts: https://github.com/galfarragem/superfolder
“So many books, so little time”