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Extra-Subject Architecture

7 Extra-Subject Architecture


These things bind everything together in the system.


You have three major categories of binders:

Your carry-about binder will contain the following:

Your common-store binder will contain the following:

Your archive-store binders will contain the following:


Archive-store binders are kept by alphabet ranges. For example, if you had two binders, they might be ``A-M'' and ``N-Z'', depending on how you decided to balance them.

Chaos is stored in the archive-store binders under ``C''. It might be big. Every now and then, you might just want to dump out whole sections of ``Chaos.''

What IS Chaos?

Chaos is just papers that have hoards of thoughts on them with no obvious subject placement, or that are so hopelessly beyond recovery (or take so LONG to recover) that you might likely just throw it out, but that you'd like to give it ``one last chance''. After staring at it for a while, though, you decide, ``Nah. Toss it.'' And you do.

Or you don't. I've occasionally found a jewel in there. Whatever you like.

The Archives are pretty straight forward, you just store stuff in them.

Now let's consider the common-store binder.

I frequently call it the ``subject cache''. It's where the subjects that you have been using for the last 2-6 weeks go; Ones that you are accessing frequently.

Whenever you need some space in the common store, you can do two things:

You may need to buy (or scrounge around for) another archival binder, but there you go.

Now, in your common store, what are we keeping again?

Put those sections in the following order:

  1. P and P
  2. Paper (Blank first, then Templates last.)
  3. Unplaced
  4. Chaos
  5. Sections

Most of these you are already pretty familiar with. I'll talk a little bit more about P and P and ``Unplaced'' here:

P and P:

You want EVERY SUBJECTS P and P here, arranged alphabetically. Almost all are 1 page only- I've never seen a two pager. If you have older version, the older version should NOT appear here- only the most recent. (The older version get's an archive bit set, and you throw it in either the subject's archive back pages, or into the archival binders.)

That's pretty simple.


These are for ``proto-subjects'': You have a few pages on the subject, but you don't have quite enough pages to warrant actually putting a tab-delimiter in place, using some of your template pages, and what not. You just want to give the pages a temporary rest stop, and see what happens. Maybe one day you'll have some more thoughts on the subject, maybe you won't.

Important considerations: DO NOT NUMBER THE PAGES. There IS NO SUBJECT yet, and thus no pagination.

HOWEVER, you DO want to CLEARLY IDENTIFY the subject that they would go in, both at the bottom of the page (as if it were a full page id, just without anything more specific than the subject name itself), and at the top-left of the page. (I don't know why. It just seems to ``work'' for me. You don't really have to.)

When an ``unplaced'' subject reaches a sufficient size, say 7-10 pages roughly, then take your pages out and promote the pages to a full subject. TaDa! Start a MOC, maybe a relevant TOC, fill out the tab, update the GSMOC, registry, and you're done.

There- we're done with the common-store notebook- ALSO a relatively simple subject.

And now for the carry-about notebook.

This is a MID-SIZED binder. It's not one of those really ultra-thin binder, but it's not a gigantic daddy-long legs binder either. mid-sized. It needs to be COMFORTABLE to carry.

IT MUST BE DURABLE. Moreso than the others must be.

This thing is going to get pretty messed up. You're going to be constantly fiddling with it. It is going to get dropped. Lost. DROOLED ON.

Keep it safe. PROTECT IT WITH YOUR LIFE. You're going to hold an incredibly vast amount of information in there- your latest speed thoughts on every single subject. That's information density. And you're going to be carrying it into a hostile environment: THE WORLD. The rest of your binders- the common store, the archive, they are not going to be in the world. They are going to be in a pocket universe called your book shelves. But your local cache, your carry-about notebook- that's going to be with you in every where, except where there's water.

It contains:

Here's their order in your binder:

  1. Other Stuff (?)
  2. Blank Paper, Blank Speeds, Blank Pan-Subject Speeds (in that order)
  3. GSMOC
  4. Subjects Registry
  5. Subject Speeds and Refs TOC
  6. Global A/S
  7. MORE ``Other Stuff'' (?)
  8. Optionally included Subjects (?)

Question marks mean ``optionally present.''

Let me start with the easy ones first, then tackle the complex things last.

Other Stuff: I have a hybrid between this notebook system, this ``thought'' system, and the GTD system (``Getting Things Done'', David Allen). I call the combination ``ACTS''- the Act-Communication-Thought System. It requires pages in my carry-about binder. They go either at the beginning or the end.

Frequently, people will hand you stuff, like fliers, or whatever. Just keep it at the back or front of your binder.

Blank papers- nothing needs be said. Keep it well stocked. Global A/S- we've already talked about this, in the Intra-subject architecture. This is the same thing, just for things that apply to your entire notebook system, or for roughly more than 2-3 subjects.

Optional subjects-

Some times you are busy performing some maintenance operation (mapping speed thoughts), or are working on a POI or something, and you just CAN'T leave the subject. So you're going to have to carry it with you.

Easily done! Just open your common-store subjects, pop out the subject you want, and place it into your carry-about notebook, at the very end. Work on it while you are away, over the objections of your girlfriend, and then when you get back, you can pop it right back into the common store.

Now we're just left with ``hard stuff'':

We'll tackle subject speed pages/refs TOCs first.

Things to keep in mind:

That is:

You take all of the latest speeds and all of the reference TOCs for ALL of your subjects. Then you arrange them ALPHABETICALLY (fully- expand out your acronyms) by subject, in pairs (speed-references pairs). The latest speed page comes FIRST, followed by ALL of the references.

Or, not. You could just keep the references in their respective subjects, most likely in the common-store or the archives. But I prefer to keep the references with me in my carry-about, so that I can add to them when I talk with people, and so that I can share them with interested people.

Or you could keep the references seperate from all of the speeds. However you like. This is just the way I've done it.

It's important to remember that only the latest speed needs to be in the carry-about notebook. Since there is a higher risk to data that's in the carry-about, I try to keep as much as possible in common-store or archives. Speeds are VERY dense, so all the more reason to be careful about them..!

Now, that wasn't so hard. Finally, the GSMOC and subjects registry. Then we get on talking about:

So. The GSMOC and Subjects Registry.

The Grand Subject Map of Contents (GSMOC) is a map of all of your subjects. It will probably start out being just a single page, and will likely baloon out to be several pages large.

You'll use it for a number of purposes, not limited to:

The GSMOC isn't alone; It has the subject registry right behind it. That is, two pages (at least), with a hash of your subjects over their first letter. That is, you have ``ABCDEFG...'' written down the left side, one letter to two lines. As you create subjects, you'll list them in the hash.

You want a LIST of all of your subjects, in addition to your map. Why? Because you're going to have some sorts of tags that you are going to attach to subjects, that should be accessible in the context of the map. The map is AWESOME at helping you find stuff by area, by field, but if you already know the NAME of your subject, and are holding that NAME in mind, rather than a vague intention, the LIST is going to help you a lot more. Sort of like the difference between the general google index lookup (you know- the one that everyone uses and that hangs out on their front page), and the google directories (which are actually DMOZ).

You may well have some subjects that are NOT MAPPED. I listed those in GREEN on the directories. In particular, I have a holdover from previous days (pre-system) called ``Lists.'' It shows up in green on the directories, but nowhere on the maps.

(You don't have to do it that way. Nowadays, with what I know now, I would just make a place on the maps for ``unplaced'' or ``unplacable'', and parked the ``subject'' name in there.)

The ``Unplaced'' section itself (!)- for pages that are unplaced, also appears in the Grand Subject Registry (GSR). Again- it could go on the map too in a ``unplacable'' location (I might even draw a little warehouse picture next to it, or draw a little empty car-parking-spot ``U'' around it, or something like that), but I happen to have put it in the GSR.

I also keep track of my archived subjects in there, as well. For example, I used to have ``ACTION'' and ``REBOUND'', before I started the present notebook system, which has assimilated and canibalized them somewhat. They appear on my GSR, with a little red ``old'' character (the Chinese character I showed before) next to them, indicating "You don't put stuff in here, it's old.

Incidentally- they also appear on the GSMOC. They are drawn faintly, and also have the ``old'' character next to them. But it is not my promise with myself that it will be the case- My promise is that every subject has an appearance on the GSR. But they don't need an appearance on the GSMOC. It's just a good idea.

As you work with the system, you will feel the desire to have a GSR- a place where you can flag subjects conveniently, all in one place, but without using the GSMOC. You'll LOVE your GSMOC, but you'll want the GSR as well.

So, I am done talking about the GSR.

Now, what does the GSMOC look like?

Well, it depends on if it is small or big. GSMOCv1 will be so puny, in fact, that it should include the GSR, on the same page..! That's what I did.

The top 2/3 of the page represent your map.

GSMOCS ALWAYS get convoluted with time. In fact, this applies to any map. Then there's a revolution- you toss the old map (well, archive it), make an interim map (remember! give it a full version number!), and then (perhaps) rewrite the interim into a nice new clean well organized map. This happens with programming, too. Lots of systems. So there it is.

Then the bottom third is just your GSR. It doesn't even have to be alphabetical, because it's so small. Just hunt and peck at what's there.

When one page is no longer enough, you'll do what I said above. And remember: The FIRST page of your new, multi-page map, is just a map of your maps. I drew the small maps in miniature on the front page. Sort of like maps of the USA: The first page is the whole usa, and it shows you the subdivisions over the maps to the rest of the USA. And they usually have this special cutout for Hawaii and Alaska. And that's what your first page of your GSMOC looks like. Include little page numbers, in blue, to the actual pages themselves- the page numbers have got to stick out. You could even put it in red, though blue is more consistent with the color scheme I've described. (Blue: Structure, Page Numbers, etc.,.)

Now remember: Your GSMOC is also a major strategy point. You're going to be putting those little tabs on the page. So size your subjects accordingly. We want DENSITY, but we ALSO want to be able to see the strategy tabs. You'll know how big your strategy tabs are, once you've bought them.

Ah- I knew I was fishing around in my mind for something. Okay: We're moving along to placing subjects on the GSMOC.

Then we'll talk about half subjects.

I sense that I am missing some things. Unfortunately, I cannot articulate what they are. My notebook system has done what it can for me here. The notebook system works- it works GREAT, but it doesn't always give you EVERYTHING, and sometimes you'll feel that there is ``something missing''. Sometimes the feeling is wrong, but often it is right. Even the notebook system, an amazing and wonderful catch, even it, is bounded by the laws of time and priority. It works far better than not having one at all, but it is not immortal or omnipotent. If I was carrying out my notebook today, there would be two results:

  1. This section WOULD be complete, in the notebook.
  2. You would not be reading this, because I would be immobilized. Because of the way the notebook system works.

Remember the dialectic between INTENTIONAL thought vs. CAUGHT thought. The INTENTIONAL thought is you actively going out into a mine and getting yourself some thoughts. That's what I'm doing now, as I'm writing. I'm using the notebook to GUIDE me, based on the content and structure accumulated before.

I ASSURE YOU: If I had NOT been keeping my notebooks, this document, that you see in front of you now, would NOT have been possible to write. I might be able to write some thing here, and a little something there, but it would be nowhere NEAR as structured (yes, I know the structure is not visible yet, but it's there), nor nowhere NEAR as complete (even with the tiny things that I miss), as it is now. You'll experience the sense of ``completeness'', as well as the hightened sense of ``incompleteness'', as you practice the notebooks, and envision Xanadu12 in your mind.

(DIVERSION ALERT! DIVERSION ALERT!) Thinking about Information Architecture will be EXTREMELY important to society in the future. All these programmers wondering, "Why aren't we reusing each others components?" Yes, very significantly, our languages and practices are limiting us. Quite severly. But even if we had the best reuse languages mechanisms and what not, we STILL need it to be easier to figure out what other people have written. The RETRIEVAL problem is MASSIVE. Even with Wiki's and automatic lists and Orielly books and stuff like that, it's STILL enormously difficult. Just reading the Lex/Yacc book is extraordinarily intimidating, if you're just trying to make a simple command language for your app. Yes, we know that simple languages turn complex quickly. But don't beat people up about it. Write a better explanation of how to use Lex/Yacc. Or better yet, realize that its complex, and write a simplified version, and then take the time to hook it into our programmer's social system. And suppose you DO intend to write a better one. What are you going to do: Spend two years reading every guy's paper in the world on the subject? Or are you going to maybe spend a few days looking, and then start? You aren't going to spend two years looking for and reading all the papers. You're just going to sit down and do it. And some guy somewhere is going to say, ``Outrageous! He didn't read my paper!''

So, there are several things here:

I have a general picture of how all these things fit together: "Public Field Technologies." I want to write about it in the future. It's not on the immediate roster, though. Okay, back to wherever we were. Let me figure this out...


Then we'll talk about half subjects.

You put your subjects on the map, like we described before about maps. You put things that are sort of connected close to one another, and those that are distantly connected far from one another.

This is based on YOUR MENTAL ASSOCIATIONS, not on any sort of ACEPOS (Absolute Cosmic Eternal Perfect Ontological Structure.) Examples. Examples are good.


           Personal Subjects Map

                      |(mind 1st)
          Ethics     MP.      Admonishment
                    /   \
 ---             Values  IMGN
 PPL)---.            \   /           (P*Ident)
 ---     `----------P*Psych
     MTK            /  |
--- /   \          /   |                  Chrono
EDU)     \Notebooks    |                 /   \
---               `    |             P*Hist--Prsnl
                  |    |                      Records
                  ( Systems)                GSMOCv2 2

I've removed some things which are difficult to draw in ASCII, such as the fait ``Action'' and ``Rebound'' and accompanying ``old'' marker.

Also, this just doesn't do justice to the real deal, at all. Another strike against computers with today's technology. But anyways- I'll try to make it clear.

The page marker is on the bottom right, it says ``GSMOCv2 2'' meaning that this is version 2 of the GSMOC, and that it's page 2 in particular.

I've titled this particular GSMOC page, though I didn't have to; The title is ``Personal Subject Map". There are others: ''Communication Subject Map`` (which is the page ``left'' of this one), ''Society Subject Map" (to the left of communication), an untitled map beneath these three, and beneath that is ``ComputerLand'', where I've got all sorts of computer subjects.

The title is written in blue.

On the left, are two subject names with dashed lines instead of full circles, indicating that the subjects aren't actually on this page. Those are ``PPL'' (People) and ``EDU'' (Education), both of which exist on the Communications page, again, to the ``left'' of the present page.

I put ``left'' in quotes because the page is actually GSMOCv2-4. That is, ``page 4''. Two pages after the present one. But it is arranged on the front page of the GSMOC as if it were to the left. Think back to the analogy of the USA map: California may well be West of Alabama, but Alabama's map may show up first, if the map is presented in alphabetical order. This is not a difficult concept.

I include the links to make the connections clear. You don't have to, but I think it's a good idea.

``Systems'' is similar, but it's ``below'' rather than on the left.

Now, there are two special items on the map, ``Mind 1st'' and ``P*Ident''. Those are what I call ``half subjects''. I'll write more about those in a moment, but basically, they are subjects that are ONLY speed lists at this point in time, or perhaps they are accumulating mass in ``unplaced'', but not yet a full, formally recognized subject.

The two half subjects are not actually written on the page..! They are written on the little strategy stickies. They have a fat red dot drawn on them, to differentiate them from strategy stickies.

Half subjects, after all, may be retracted. They don't appear on the GSR. They may be merged with something else. Whatever. They are in flux. So they don't get inked onto the paper.

Actually, you know what- I don't have much more to say about half-subjects, so lets just consider that I've talked about them. Not much more to them.

The half-subjects here are demonstrating what I was saying about proximity and distance reflecting subject matter.

Mind 1st is a speed list of thoughts pertaining to the notion that we are primarily, in mind, mental beings. It has to do with recognizing our identity as minds, that everything we experience, even the world, is a bunch of symbols and mind-images and what not that are thrown at us. I don't believe that minds are our core identity (awareness), but that we happen to be inhabiting them, and that our particular configuration is unique to ourselves by various accumulations and circumstances. We seem to be reshaping the world based on our mental constructs; If we were omnipotent, or telekinetic or what not, it would become very apparent to us that the world was based on our minds, not on the environment that gave birth to us. So, all those kinds of thoughts appear in ``Mind First.'' (My true calling, however, could be titled ``Spirit first'', or ``Awareness First'', and is encapsulated in the ``Spirit'' subject position.)

``Mind First'' is CLEARLY in the metaphysical domain. But I don't see it quite as good as the eternal Spirit. There's a sort of semiotic rule that above is considered higher, and so I am positioning ``Mind 1st'' above and to the right of MP (MetaPhysics), but beneath spirit. It's closest to Metaphysics.

Now- we're talking about Spirit and Ethics and Metaphysics and Values and Imagination and what not.

Don't be frightened. Remember: I'm not saying that these connections are REAL or anything, or even necessarily the logical best connections. I'm saying that THESE are my mental ASSOCIATIONS. But this is by no means an ACEPOS, or even an attempt at an ACEPOS. This is just the way I hook things up in my mind.

There are times where I perform radical reconfigurations, and everything changes. Not only in my notebooks, but sometimes in my life as well..! The notebook is a MIRROR of whats going on in your MIND. Manipulations in the notebook are manipulations in your mind, and vice versa. WHEN YOU ARE MANIPULATING YOURSELF, IT CAN BE A GOOD IDEA TO DO SO BEFORE A MIRROR. There is no brain mirror (well, okay, surgeons differ, but...), but there is this notebook, which is a mind mirror. So there you go.

Think about that. I mean, I do. I contemplate that a lot. I think it's profoundly interesting. If it means nothing to you; Well, okay. But I think that's fascinating. Amazing.

But No. I'm not making the Kaballah here. This is not Ein Soph and Kethery and Chokmah and Binah and the Void or whatever. If you want to study that kind of stuff, great. The notebook system can help. Make a section called ``Kaballah'', study in there, and link it into your system on the GSMOC however you like. But the system above is not Kaballah. It's a mind map. If you feel there are cosmic connections, fine. Maybe ``Personal Identity'', ``Chronology'', ``Personal History'', and ``Personal Records'' can be modelled by some abstract timeless pattern.

Wait a sec- what am I doing? I'm ``poo-poo''ing the idea of using other people's established structures. I shouldn't be doing that. It's true- I don't want to alienate people who are very anti-spiritualist and anti-religious, and things like that. At the same time, I don't think it's right to say no to people who ARE spiritualists. And there ARE fundamental patterns. We know this in programming for a fact; We call them ``Design Patterns''. Similarly, in life, there are patterns as well, and people have codified them into legends, and they have moved people in powerful and useful ways, and have helped people organize and understand their lives.

So, I take that back. If you are a Kabalist, and you naturally associate things through the mental framework you've inherited from the Kabalists' tradition, DO so. That comes naturally to you. We are mirroring YOUR mind after all. So you should do it that way.

I would just suggest that you not feel confined to that structure.

At any rate: I want to make clear to EVERYBODY that this structure above is just a map of things I think about. I think there's a ``Metaphyisical'' quality to my thoughts about values, and certainly my thoughts about Imagination. Similarly, ethics is related to values, but it is kind of seperate, and the same between ethics and metaphysics, but more distant.

This conversation isn't nonsense: I'm demonstrating the working of the mapping process. I could say it more literally, but as I said: I'm just spitting this out. So, my apologies if I have offended anyone's sensibilities. MAJOR apologies to everyone for writing so poorly.

So, that was a lengthy demonstration of how subjects are placed, and configured. It's a combination of semiotics and proximity/distance and other stuff. And the maps you make will make the most sense to you. As it should be. No ACEPOS here.

Now I think I have one thing to add.

Sometimes, a subject comes directly out of another subject. ``PTUI!'' One subject (like Metaphysics) got so many thoughts that were easy to isolate (like Values), that it SPAT IT OUT. So you have two subjects.

Sometimes, until the two subjects get some more distance from one another, I will notate the link between the two with something other than a line. It denotes ``Tight Coupling.''

Loose Coupling:

 .---------.                       .---------.
( SUBJECT A )---------------------( SUBJECT B )
 `---------'                       `---------'

Tight Coupling:

 .---------. | | | | | .---------.
( SUBJECT A )| | | | |( SUBJECT B )
 `---------' | | | | | `---------'

It doesn't have to be horizontal- that's just an artifact of writing with ASCII.

However, do notice that I've placed them closer, and that I use a bunch of perpendicular lines (perpendicular to the direction of connection) to denote the link.

Sometimes, over time, the coupling loosens. On the next version of the map, I turn denote the loose connection on the map.

And remember: Very loose connections don't even get a line at all.

You just rely on proximity alone.

Now: I've described that links appear because there are associations between subjects. But it gets better than that! Did you know that there's a VERY good way to determine the proximity/connection type, in a very objective way?!? As in: A computer could figure it out? It's true!

Think about it: What tells us about the connection between subjects?

The P and P! The Purpose and Principles Page!

The MORE COMPLEX the protocol is between two subjects, THE GREATER THEIR COUPLING! Or at least, it tends that way.

So if you have a bunch of rules in the P and P over how thoughts divide between two subjects, that's a good indicator that those subjects tightly coupled. If there's just a single P and P reference, then it probably means a ``normal'' or ``distant'' link, but still one worthy of an explicit line.

So, there you go. You can see P and P at work while you determine your GSMOC tensions.

Oh: I want to make sure something is very clear:

VARY the length of your links. You WANT to VARY them. There's this sort of ``pristine computer ethic'' going around, that we want precision and equal lengths and stuff. I agree: We want precision. But we don't find it in uniformity. (A manifestation of the design vs. iteration tension in Computer Programming...) We find it in the variable. We want to be able to vary the length of the connection. Things that are more closely related- pull them in. Things that are further afield, but still connected- let the go out a bit.


Oh; It just occured to me. I recently observed something on my GSMOC. There's a pattern that I now call a ``Subject Feeder''. That is, I was working on a bunch of individual subjects (GKI, Anarcho-Science, Communes, Meetings, Electronic Collaboration...) and was getting some names confused. I was routing Speeds between subjects a lot. "Does it go there? No, it goes over there... (much later) What was I thinking? This doesn't go here- it goes THERE... (much later) What?! Where the hell does this thought go?!" It was confusing, and that meant that I had a framework flaw. So I reorganized my maps, standardized my names for things, untill everything was clear, and found I had a new subject: ``PFT'', or ``Public Field Technologies.'' It was DIFFERENT than my conception of anarcho-Science, and it was DIFFERENT than my thoughts about the global knowledge infrastructure, and it was DIFFERENT than all these other things. And it turned out to be what I am calling a ``Subject Feeder''. That is: It did a REALLY good job of showing WHERE to put other thoughts. Sometimes I'd even through a speed into the subject feeder's speed list, because I hadn't quite internalized the new organization, to be able to quickly place the speed, and maybe I had important things to do at the time. So I just threw it into the subject feeder bin. Or in this case, ``PFT''. Then as I processed my speeds, with map in hand, I would forward the speed to where it needed to go. (Computers come in really handy around now. Anytime you are transcribing shit, you're always kicking yourself wishing for computers. I have things to say about this in the ``Computer'' chapter- chapter VI.)

So you may witness the same thing: ``Subject Feeders''. Or whatever we want to call them.

Okay. So, we've talked about:

We've also talked about things I didn't plan originally and don't really ``fit'' here:

So... It's talked about! We're done!

What else is here in the Extra-Subject Architecture..

Okay, just a moment. It's hot here in Seattle, this summer.. I need a glass of water. Done.

So, Subject Sectioning.

Let's see- what's on the map.

What follows is just gibberish in my lookup process:

S5 S14 S19 S82 S43 S44
Transfer: P2 S74
Interface: S15

S5: Purpose, Mis-sectioning, Re-sectioning, Growth Process, Can get
right first time?, Constellations (SYS:S4)
SYS-S4: (Carry-about, Systems, S4, looking up...)
SYS-S4: Programming and Bsns and Notebooks have in common- diving up
functionality/work/thoughts into constellations. Dealing w/ border
cases, ambiguity. Ideally multi-categorize.
S14: Dividing when big- many speed-thoughts = division likely
S19: Splitting Subjects - when 1 domain knowledge used make conclusion
in 2nd, 2nd is primary. If many-many try go more general. If 1 object
many contexts, the object. ex: ACT2:S9. Particular relevence in a
domain gets it. ex:ACT2:S39. If 1 object in 1 context, the context, to
aid in mapping. Action suggested in particular domain gets
it. ex:ACT2:S26 (or28?)
--- (ACT2 lookups)
ACT2-S9: (Archives, Action 2, S9, looking up...)
ACT2-S9: Ideals, Spirit, and Self Image. Spirit in Context of ideals  and 
Self-image (where am, where go). [Sent to ``Spirit'']
ATC2-S39: It's okay to hold social theories, just don't believe you
are right. Understand your ideas are non-scientific,
inductive. Connected S37, Forwarded to SOC.
ACT2-S37: ``Give up being right!'' -Super-complexity, Non-scientific
thinking, (science IMPOSSIBLE), w/in abstract domains of political
issues in life. Much happier w/o.
ACT2-S26: Keeping sched for interacting w/ friends. -->ATS
S82:Subjects can become big.l Things ordinarily small may take on
great importance in your life, and grow own place in framework. ex: If
x-tian, Bible may be whole subj, or even individual books in Bible!
S43:Thought-focus areas can be TIGHT (ex:IMGN) or LOOSE (ex:MP)
S44:Identifying Key Locusts and Peripheral Locusts
P2: (POI Transfer entry)
S74: Moving Entrees. Don't renumber if don't have to. Open spaces AOK.
S15: Interfacing between subjects of note-keeping, and P and P


There's NO WAY that I'd just come up with all that just by sitting here typing away. I'd be lucky to have recalled half of it. I'm CERTAIN I would have missed ``Splitting Subjects''- a very important ruling that I have so internalized, that I've forgotten I know it. Okay, so, here we go. Serializing time.

One way of cutting it up:

I like that. I'll use that as the guide for discussing Subject sectioning.

First: ``Thoughts in a Subject.'' How you get a thought, and then figure out where to put it, and then how to move it from one subject to another when things get mixed up.

You get a thought, and you want to place it in the subject that's purpose it best aligns with. Most of the time, you know where to put the thought immediately, but some thoughts are tough. Your first line of defence is the GSMOC. You look in the general vicinity of where the thought goes, and see what your options are. 9 times out of 10, this tells you what you need to know. Ocassionally, you'll need to go back to your P and P, and figure out what you intend. When you decide, you may need to annotate your P and P, especially if it was silent when you needed its help.

Now remember- your P and P is to be interpreted loosely. It says ``INCLUDE'' and ``EXCLUDE'', but it doesn't say ``ONLY include.'' It just says ``INCLUDE.'' Anything between INCLUDE and EXCLUDE is up to YOU to think about. Otherwise, we'd be spending all day writing a single P and P, or constantly updating the P and P.

But some times: Even with this ``loose'' interpretation of the P and P, you will STILL not be able to place the thought.

THat's GOOD! There are three things this can mean.

  1. You've got to put the thought on the ``unplacable list''. A mysterious list that I never gave second thought to, appears before all the speeds, and forgot to write about. Dou! Doesn't even appear on my notebooks SMOC. This is the case for ``out there'' thoughts, that have nothing to do with anything you've been writing. This is the boring case.
  2. You're splitting thoughts. More on that below.
  3. This is the exciting case. Your thought has ``broken'' your conceptualization system. There's something wrong with the way you've been thinking about things, and you need to go in and reorganize your thoughts, in such a way that it can account for this new thought of yours.

It's a lot of work some times, but you'll find that the ``automatic'' processes of the notebook system are not the major benefits. YES, they HELP, but they BRING YOU to the places where you can clearly see the HARD work that needs to be done. Incidental thought is great, but there's difficult work to be done in Intentional thought as well. (I say difficult because: The process is not well understood (I'm working on it), and because: It generally takes a while to do, especially relative to Incidental thought, which requires minimal ``work''). Reorganizing can be time consuming, but the rewards are enormous: You are moving to a whole new way of thinking about whatever it is that is important to you! A revolutionary change. Congradulations!

But it is still a lot of work.

So, you place your thoughts by purpose, and it may involve some difficult cross-subject work, but for the most part, 99it's a pretty easy process.


This is a very important, and a very powerful metaphor. This is something that I have found true in many fields. I believe this is something that AI resesarchers should be paying attention to (though they probably are already).

Oh: By the way. I think that anyone who is interested in AI should read this book and practice it. This process is very, very, very mechanical. That's boring to us humans, but computers love it. And I think that computer AI would be performing a much more complex version of the process. But I think that the basic framework may very well be this process, just more formal. Okay, I'm done pretending like I know about the field of AI. (I don't.)

When you are building a computer program, you have all these little ``thoughts''. But they aren't thoughts: They are requirements, promises, stuff like that. You can scatter them out, then organize. Collect related ones. There's usually multiple ways to organize them, different ways of considering the same exact thing. You put closely related ones together, and that's called ``cohesion.'' And others are apart, but connected, and that's ``coupling''. Sound familiar? They are little constellations of requirement. The process is half art and half science.

Same for business construction, where it's basically the same process, but with people.

So, why mention this? Because it's general. If you know the practice in one, you know it in the others; Here too as well.

Now: What happens when you mis-section your thoughts?

First, you want to think about what that means. Is this something that you are doing a lot? Perhaps you need to clarify your organization, or you want to set up some sort of process for thoughts in this domain, until you've internallized the organization.

Next: Determine where the thought is going. Say you're moving something from PFT (Public Field Technologies) into ECollab (Electronic Collaboration). You made a mistake by putting it into PFT, and it's a straightforward matter to move it to ECollab.

First, you put the thought in the ECollab speeds. Give it the next available number. Then, cross it out of PFT, in red. Also in red, write ``ECollab S57''. Or whatever subject and Speed number is the target. Simple enough. You want to keep the record of where it went, because you might have links to the original.

If you are ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that you've NEVER mentioned the original anywhere else, you've never linked to it, then you can completely cross it out, without linking to the new location as well. But I usually just link it; I don't like to worry about absolute certainty.

Your POI are a little more difficult. If you've written a POI, but later find out that you put the entire POI in the wrong place, the process is a little more involved.

What you do is you take the POI out of the first, insert an out-card in it's place (pointing to the new location), and then insert the POI in the new location. You also have some renumbering to do.

Now- what's the new location?

If there's not already a POI with the given number, you can just take that number.

For example, if I'm moving a ``PFT P7'' to be ``ECollab P7'', but ECollab only has 4 POI (ECollab P1, ECollab P2, ECollab P3, ECollab P4), then just let the POI# remain the same.

Who cares if there are gaps? Put it in the 7th slot on the TOC, or don't list it on the TOC at all, untill the 6th has been reached, at which point you can list P7.

But sometimes you just have to renumber the whole thing to a new POI#.

When renumbering, whenever possible, you want to CROSS OUT rather than WHITE OUT, or eliminate. That is, you'd like to be able to see the history, if at all possible, without fucking this up too much.

But, like all rules, some times you'll just have to say "history be damned."

Look to the future.

Finally, in this area of placing thoughts in subjects and resectioning, I want to talk about some tough nuts to crack.

I call it ``Splitting Subjects''.

This is a thought that isn't merely ``out there.'' NOR does it somehow break your system.

It's just clearly highly relevant to more than one subject.

I have built some general rules for such thoughts, and you may want to make up some of your own.

Now hold on- this is pretty abstract. Don't worry, I'll give examples of each. They are:

  1. When 1 domains knowledge is used to make conclusions in a 2nd domain, the 2nd domain is primary.
  2. If there is a many-many relationship among domains, try to go with the most general domain, if at all possible.
  3. If there is 1 object in MANY contexts, try to put the object in it's own, native domain. If such a thing exists.
  4. But: If you have 1 object in ONE context, put the object in the CONTEXT.
  5. If there is a PARTICULARLY relevant domain, that domain gets it. In order to aid in mapping.
  6. An action in a particular domain: the domain gets it.

Yes, that is pretty heady and out there. It's also fairly arbitrary- you can and should make up your own rules, as you come up with them. Just be consistent: Record them somewhere. (I would imagine that you would have a ``Notebooks'' subject, like my own, or something like it.) This is just something to go from.

So, examples.

1. "When 1 domains knowledge is used to make conclusions in a 2nd domain, the 2nd domain is primary."

So, say you have some thoughts about ethical rules in electronic collaboration. I happen to have both ``Ethics'' and ``ECollab'' in my notebook. Which should it go in? Ethics, because I want to collect all my thoughts about ethics into a coherent framework, or ECollab, because I want to be aware of ethical considerations when I work on Electronic Collaboration?

I put it into ECollab, and I use this rule to help me make decisions like that. There is certainly such a thing as thinking about Ethics abstractly.

This is highlighting a limitation of paper systems: It's difficult to put a thought in two places at once. Computer systems, when they overcome their too-costly restrictions, will solve this problem for us.

When you obey this rule, you don't need to place a link on the GSMOC. If you did so, it would quickly become a big enormous tangled mess.

If you want to, you can run over to the Ethics subject and put a link on the map to your thought way o'er in Electronic Collaboration. But I wouldn't do that. Such a promise to yourself would be waaay too costly to keep. We must live with the imperfect. TOLERATE ERRORS. If this is hard for you, start fucking things up by attaching imaginary false links in one place (I guess). Start making up links that go to creatively unrelated places. That's my solution to your dilemma, at least.

So: Applying subj 1 in subj 2, put thought in subj 2.

2. If there is a many-many relationship among domains, try to go with the most general domain, if at all possible.

HOWEVER, if you have some situation that is incredibly complex, with multiple applicabilities, just go for the most general one you can find.

This is just a messy situation. See if maybe another rule applies, if you don't like this.

3. If there is 1 object in MANY contexts, try to put the object in it's own, native domain. If such a thing exists.

So, I have an actual real example from real life here. I had a thought like this: "Reflect on the role of Spirit in the Context of Ideals and Self-Image- where it is at, where it is going."

So, it was fighting amidst ``Spirit'', ``Values", and ''Personal Identity." (Actually, at the time, Personal Identity didn't exist, so technically, it was between ``Spirit'', ``Values", and ''Personal Psychology". But that's just nit-picky.)

Where did that go? It went to ``Spirit''. The focus of the thought was clearly on spirit, in these other contexts, so I put it in Spirit.

4. But: If you have 1 object in ONE context, put the object in the CONTEXT.

This is just a special case of rule 1 (two subjects, go with the one that's the context).

5. If there is a PARTICULARLY relevant domain, that domain gets it. In order to aid in mapping.

I had a thought that "it's okay to have social theories, just understand that all positions are fragile, and necessarily, by the shape of things, non-scientific, inductive."

I put that in ``Society". (Later, it would have gone into ''Social Ideology``.) I WOULD have placed it in "Science'' or epistimology, or something, but I REALLY WANTED to see this thought whenever I thought about society- it's an important self-admonishment.

So, put your thoughts wherever they will serve best.

6. An action in a particular domain: the domain gets it.

If you have a ``possible action'' that you can apply in a particular domain, put it in that particular domain. This is again a special case of rule 1: Put specific things in specific places.

A good general ``super-rule", I guess then, is ''Put specific things in specific places, and general things in general places."

And that is what I call ``Splitting Subjects''. I have the image of throwing a stone thought tablet over a pile of rocks, and seeing where it rests.

I guess it's a bad name. In future versions of this text, I can call it something better.

So: We've talked about how thoughts roll over subjects. How they get in, how they settle somewhere, how they get kicked out, how they go somewhere else. This is all in the context of extra-subject architecture. It doesn't make much sense to talk about this within the framework of a single subject.

Next, I'm going to talk about the growth process of subjects:

So, you have a subject. You pick a good, 1-3 word title.

It can be as specific or general as you like.

Frequently, you start out general, and then, with time, as you collect thoughts, you extract items that are specific.

For example, I started with ``MetaPhysics''. After about a hundred speeds collected, however, I pulled out ``Spirit'', ``Ethics'', ``Imagination'', and ``Personal Psychology.''

You pull them out by looking at your thought ``stars'': You'll identify ``constellations'', and you'll seperate out those that are clearly seperate and distinct from the others.

Some times you'll pull out things that are still pretty interconnected. That's still useful- just document the interconnections on the P and P, and you might want to draw in some ``wormholes'' on your maps, linking across subjects.

Now: ``Can you get a subject right the first time?'' That is: Can you predict how your thoughts are going to come out?

I have found that it's rarely the case that I can do a very good job of it beforehand. That's because of what I call the "symphony principle." (If someone knows a canonical name for this, let me know, It works like this: If you don't listen to symphony music a lot, and then you hear some, you say, "Oh, it's symphony music.`` And then if you hear another, you say, ''Oh, it's more symphony music." There's little difference between the two pieces. But if you listen to it a lot, then you start to discriminate better. You can start to identify major trends big differences. With time, you can even identify subtle differences. With even more time, those previously subtle differences become vast enormous chasms, and you are picking out still subtler differences. The same is true for art. If you pay attention to an art style for a while, you start to understand things that other people don't- the meaning of a slightly thicker line, a slightly different shade, a slightly different position. Or clothing. Some people are experts at what clothing communicates to ourselves, or to others, and they can make subtle differences that we cannot cognize, yet still influence us. Lots and lots of subtelty.

And the same thing happens with our notebooks. We approach a subject. It has meaning to us, for some reason. We feel drawn to it. But it is amorphous, we cannot divide it. If we could divide it, we'd be much cleverer people. But we cannot, at the moment. So we approach it, and ``subscribe'' to that sound stream of thought. We start writing it, and then graphing the night sky. We telescope in on it, and find pinpoints of still smaller stars, and we identify constellations, and constellations within constellations.

So: I don't believe we can just ``get it right the first time.'' We have to listen to it first.

So: If in doubt, go general in the beginning. Then, extract subjects within as you discover difference.

Now, how do you seperate out subjects?

Just as we have described before. You take the speed thoughts, and transcribe them (argh!) to new speed lists. Make sure that when you cross them off from the source speed list, that you include a note about where it's going- perhaps the initials of the destination subject, and the speed #. Move other resources as well- REF, PJ, RS, POI, everything. Place out cards that point to the new location.

It is tedius, but not nearly as tedius as keeping several subjects in the same exact notebook.

Transcribing speeds is the most tedius. In the computer section, I'll describe a program that, if written, could take 90work off of our hands. Basically: Most of the work in the notebook system is based on speeds. But speeds are also the most non-graphical element of the system! If we just program in a good mapping system, which requires some graphic manipulation, but not a whole lot, then we could enter the speeds from pan-subj's, quickly, because we're typing, and then we never ever have to transcribe again... 90print out the maps and speed lists, hole punch'em, and put them into the notebooks... But I'll talk about this program more in the computers section..!

When you perform this pattern, of listening to a subject, and then seperating out the constellations, you find yourself frequently with what I call ``tight'' and ``loose'' subjects.

That is, the ones pulled out are ``tight''- that have a specific focus. But the source subject- that's still ``loose''. It serves as a sort of ``anything that's not one of those things.'' The loose source can serve as a source, yet again, but attention distributes out to the tighter subjects. Over time, the tighter subjects take on a life of their own, and occasionally spawn off even more subjects.

I had Society, which had a child named "Global Information Architecture``, which had children named "Anarcho-Science'' (about the motion of traditional study from corp/gov/mil/university to the public field) and ``Public Field Technology'' (about fields that can help people benefit and organize themselves.) PFT then dramaticly reshaped the GSMOC. So, these things take on lives of their own, mirroring what occurs in your mind.

Sometimes, however, a subject reaches an ``fullness''. You feel good about what is present. You do not want to lose it. It is reasonably complete. You may have improvements or changes in mind, but you want to preserve what you have made.

At that point, I believe, the appropriate thing to do is: To Write a Book!

I mean, that's what I'm doing right now. My ``Notebooks'' section reached a certain ``fullness''. Obviously, my notes were not perfect, but ``intentional'' thinking (rather than ``incidental'') can fill out some of the things I either felt was missing, or too obvious to me to have noted (but that a stranger might not know about).

After you have written a book, you have a solid base for further progress.

I think everyone should do this is they have a subject that is not researched yet. Hell, there are even some justifications if something is researched yet.

You may see where this leads: I'm talking about not just the integration of thoughts within your mind, but between us as well. I'm talking about social organizing. Right?

One of the interesting things about the notebook system is that, unlike most other endeavers, you don't really need a purpose. Napoleon Hill said that major efforts require "Definiteness of Purpose". But what can we say? We live in a universe without clear purpose. But maybe, buried within ourselves, is some motion, that is pushing us. I don't know if this is ``purpose'' in the same way, but it feels to me like there is some kind of motion, and that it is expressing itself. I agree that this is metaphysical, but I am only describing what I have observed. When I start keeping notes, I need no purpose. You need no purpose to analyze the traffic in your head- the traffic of all these thoughts zooming about. But you start analyzing them, and you start detecting patterns, and seeing what's happening. And it's amazing. Perhaps you do see a direction there.

You never had a sense of ``purpose'' before, but you do see that there is a direction inside of yourself, and you see it visually, mapped out in front of you. Anything you think about- maps out in front of you. If you have an unconsious urge, it will appear, in your notebooks. Low frequency patterns get captured and mapped. Whatever is inside of you.

Perhaps I'm going off the deep end here, and perhaps I'm just seeing something in myself, and overly generalizing it to all people. Nonetheless, I wouldn't feel right if I didn't write about what I saw. You need not believe me, nor agree, nor see the same thing yourself in order to practice the notebook system.

But let me know if you have any thoughts on the matter.

I have big dreams for these ideas, but I also have difficulty seeing this as anything more than an intellectual novelty item right now.

Now: Back to writing books.

You don't have to write books in order to show to other people. You can just write it for yourself.

That way, you feel okay saying that the subject is ``done''. You can put the notes in archive, and have no fears that your notes will be incomprehensible to you a decade later.

But I would put it online, for people to see.

We have no way of mapping our thoughts together, yet, online. We have google indexing, we have DMOZ, but these are not quite the same thing as maps, they are TOCs and indexes, they have great limitations in making structure clear. We talked about this already.

We also have the ``References'' problem to address on a social level- that a sing le reference covers many-many-many topics. That's why we sometimes, in the REF TOCs, that we may pick out a single chapter of a book as a reference, or distribute a single book's contents over several subjects REF TOCs. Similarly, posting our books online, we will have difficulty linking contents from a single source across multiple maps. However, I believe we can and will link contents effectively, far more effectively than we do so so far.

This book, itself, is a single element of what I call the PFT's. It is on the personal end of the spectrum from individual to global empowerment. (That is, if I'm not completely bonkers, and that this system is actually of some use to somebody..! Though I would not be surprised at all if this is actually a poor system, and that there are far better ways of doing things than I have described here.)

There is also the question of: "Are we amassing some knowledge, laboring to build something, when someone elsewhere, whom we cannot access, for whatever reason, has already far surpassed what we are laboring to build?"

Was it useful for Indians to invent bows and arrows, when people across the globe had guns? I think it was useful for them. Because, locally, within their sphere, it was better than anything they had before. The people who are distant and inaccessible are just that: Distant and inaccessible. We can only affect what we affect: Our local sphere.

I believe we should take efforts to be as strategic and open and as international as possible.

I believe that these thoughts are not original to me, that these are ideas that many people have, everywhere. I don't like it when some writer says, "Ah, these are my great ideas. Others have gone before me, but these are my ideas, extending on those before." Many people don't have the resources to articulate what they've had. I've seen many times that it is clear in a field what steps need to be taken, though not everyone is jumping to write about them- it just seems like common knowledge. Individuals and corporations jump to claim the credit for themselves. I believe all of this will change in the future. Not because it would be ``nice'' if it did, but because as our ability to communicate, out here in the ``public field'', is increasing dramaticly. The reasons why corporations ``work'' is because they are organized by communications, dollars, and geographic proximity. But proximity is becomming meaningless. And there are far more people out here in the public field, than the dollars can support in the comparatively small private networks. Further, the communications gap is narrowing- with instant messaging and video networks, people who just happen to be interested, but are across the globe, can organize just as well as the guys at the company, struggling to find a meeting time. So I believe it is very possible that we can, if we take action, make our public field powerful.

But nobody knows the future.

I've diverged considerably; Most of this should have gone into the ``Theory of Notebooks'' chapter- chapter V.

Sorry; I'm getting ahead of myself. If I take the time to reorganize the book, or if a reader re-writes the book (you are welcome to do so, please respect the public license if it applies, and feel free to write about the same exact things in your own words, with your own thoughts), then we can put these things in the right places.

We talked about subject sectioning, how subjects are made, interconnect, gestate.

Next is a very brief section, about the process of constructing and linking a new subject. FINALLY, we talk about special subjects, like chrono, Strategy, Zeitgest Tracking, and others.


This is just a checklist, for you to follow in your mind, as you create a new subject. No need to be exact, of course. Tolerate errors.

That's about it. I don't remember if there is anything more you need to do at the time.

It doesn't need to be a big process. For about 1/2 of my subjects, I don't have P and P pages. It works just fine; Many subjects are self-explanatory, and not intertwined with other subjects.



There are some subjects that are special.

Sometimes, you have subjects that cut across several subjects, such as ``strategy". That's where I've collected my ideas about ''What should I do? What would be most strategic?" Within individual subjects, you may have strategy ideas as well, particular to that individual subject.

My strategy subject was just a TOC and a bunch of chronologically sorted pages, numbered simply ``1,2,3...''

My chrono subject was the same way, except instead of being about strategy, it was basically just a standard diary or journal: How I felt, what was going on around me, etc.,.

I also kept in my notebook my calendar month pages (from my implementation of the GTD system), as months passed, and my Zeitgeist lists.

``Zeitgeist Tracking'' is an interesting thing that I did. At the start of every month, you make a blank sheet, and write "Zeitgeist, Mar 2003" (if this is a Zeitgeist sheet for the month of March, 2003.)

Whenever I found myself in a subject for a while, I'd put a brief 2-3 word description of the type of thing I was thinking about, if it wasn't already present on there.

At the end of the month, you have a list of about 10-20 general items, showing what you've been thinking about. You store the page in the Chrono notebook as the month rolls over, and you can look back and see how your thinking has changed over time- what you are thinking about, what is important to you, etc.,.

If I were to do this all again, I would probably make up a special segment for the Zeitgeists (``ZG''?) within Chrono, and I'd use CEP (the experimental Chronological Episodic segment) to track threads through time. It can definitely be structured better.

There are no notebook police: You can make up your own special subjects. {:)}=

Done! We've talked about the physical representation of the complete system, the GSMOC, the subject registery, how subjects are made, gestate, interconnect, the process of constructing new subjects, and the special subjects. Woo Hoo!

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