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System Overview

3 System Overview

I will be talking about the following things:

Let me talk at a high level about what this is all about.

The notebook system roughly divides all of your thoughts into ``Subjects''. What subjects? Depends on your thought patterns. In the Subjects section, we'll talk about how to divide your thoughts amongst subjects.

Now, there are two domains: ``Extra-subject'' and ``Intra-subject'': that is, outside and inside of your subjects.

Intra-subject: Within a particular subject, you'll have an organization. You'll have your speed thoughts for that subject, you'll have your maps, you'll have your big dissertations (``Point of Interest'', or ``POI''), you'll have your cheat sheets, your abbreviations/shorthands (``A/S'') particular to that subject, all sorts of wonderful things. Most important though, are your speeds and your maps.

Now, beyond the subject, there is a whole field of all your subjects. You'll have the ``GSMOC''- the ``Grand Subject Map of Contents'', whereon you'll see a gigantic map of EVERY THING THAT YOU THINK ABOUT. Just imagine that right now: Wouldn't you be interested in seeing such a thing? When I think about my GSMOC, I see a mirror of my mind, for the 3-5 months that I kept my notebooks. (The borders are fuzzy, because I gradually evolved into the notebook system I am describing to you.)

I mean, that, right there, is worth the price of admission. The GSMOC is a pretty impressive thing. =^_^=

Okay. So there are steps and promises that apply beyond the field of a single subject, and there are steps and promises that apply within the field of a single subject.

Now extra-subject and intra-subject float on top of your MATERIALS. We're talking about pen and paper and your binders. And some other things: You'll need those little donut holes things to protect your paper, and you'll need little stickies to put onto your paper, your maps. This will help with strategy and other map management functions. So I have a section on materials and all that stuff. Great stuff. What to look for in picking a binder. Wonderful.

There: We've knocked off the first three:

Three more to go:

Okay, I'll take the ? of Computers last. General principles first, then Theory, then ?'s of Computers.

General Principles: There are many patterns common in the steps and promises of the notebook. Things such as ``How do I lay out a page?'', the concept of ``Late Binding'' and how it applies to the notebooks. ``Out cards.'' The use of color. Partitioning strategy. Writing quality. Psychology. General mapping principles. Important stuff, but not specific to a particular position in the hierarchy.

Theory of Notebooks: Why use notebooks at all? (Partly talked about in the introduction.) How does this work? Observations about how subjects gestate. How information flows, becomes knowledge, then becomes wisdom as it integrates into our life. How thoughts integrate. How the speeds grow. And a theory of (conscious) thinking. Many things to talk about.

Finally, the Question of Computers. My least favorite subject, because people can get so damn irrational about computers.

I don't know HOW many times I've seen people twiddling about with their little palm pilots, convinced that because they have ``technology'' on ``their side'', that they are being more effective than a man holding a piece of paper and a pen. The absurdity of these devices is astounding.

I know that there are legitimate uses for these things. I see doctors carrying them around with up-to-date info dictionaries and what not, I know that they use them, yadda yadda yadda. And yet the simple fact is, 99them. They'd be much better served with a small pad of paper that they keep with them, and a pen.

There are exceptions to this: You can argue a good case for using them to play games (though I'd rather use a Game Boy Advance), or for using them to use as an address book. Great. I love it.

But for the Love Of God, if you live within the time period of 2003-2005 at the very least, do NOT try to use one of these devices to keep your notes!

This extends further to computers.

Now: All this will change. IN THE FUTURE, computers will be the way to go. But we are not there yet, NOR will we be there in the next 3-5 years. Remember: Even if the computer is fast, you still need software that won't get in your way.

I will address this subject again, later in the book. Feel free to skip it, if you plan to use paper. But if you are one of the ``I paid big money for this thing, and it's high tech, and it's sooo cyber, that it must be better than anything pen and paper can give me,'' please give serious thought to what I have to say.

I'm positioning it later in the book, so that you can have already have read about maps. I mean, maps right there- these little devices, and even my big computer, doesn't get maps right. But you'll see how this works as we read- no need for me to go off the deep end now.


In Summary:

That's what I'm going to be talking about now.

Here, let's put that in order:

  1. Materials
  2. General Principles
  3. Intra-subj
  4. Extra-subj
  5. Theory of Notebooks
  6. The Question of Computers

By the way- in case I hurt your feelings about computers- I want to add two things:

  1. I am an experienced programmer. I've been programming computers since I was 7 years old, typing in BASICA programs by hand on my mom's COMPAQ 8088. I formatted her hard drive by accidentally going into low level format instructions using ``debug'', experimenting with assembly language, when I was about 10. I am now 25. I love computers. I just happen to recognize the limitations of where we are at right now, that's all.
  2. Computers will be the SALVATION of this whole system I am describing right now. So if you feel offended knowing that I am dumping on them right now, know that that's not going to be the case for long. Paper is unwieldy, large, requires storage, and a host of other ills. Copying from page to page to page is just a nightmare. It is a necessary nightmare, right now, but it is a nightmare. Computers will save us from it.
  3. Hah! I'm sneaking in a #3. (Part of my ``no-edit policy'' when spitting stuff out. Apologies.) I WILL DESCRIBE, if I DO NOT FORGET, just WHAT steps you can take NOW, IF YOU ARE INTERESTED, to ``get the ball rolling''. There are some easy programs that you can make right now that would make this system AWESOME. I just don't have the time to code them up right now. But I will describe them, and if you like, you can code them up. Hell, I'll even throw in a description of the ideal computer notebook system- assuming I have ``magic paper''- and how it will dramatically increase our intelligence, provided that we can solve the versioning problem as well. (Note: Ted Nelson and Company went pretty batty WRT the versioning problem. Did they solve it? I don't know. I have heard rumors that some of Ted's protege's work for the CIA now, though.)

Speaking of the CIA- I want to include in this book somewhere (right here I guess) a comparison between this notebook system, and an Intelligence Agency. INTELLIGENCE is having Good Information available at the Right Time at the Right Place. Notebooks help with that by moving information to a place where it will be seen at the right time- when you access the notebook. There are a lot of similarities there with an Intelligence Agency. Okay. I'm done. Interlude out.5

Where were we?

  1. Materials
  2. General Principles
  3. Intra-subj
  4. Extra-subj
  5. Theory of Notebooks
  6. The Question of Computers
  7. Getting Started

Okay. And be aware I'll probably need to skip back and forth a little bit. Sorry, just one of the problems of having a straight linear text, rather than a fully mapped out domain.

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