History of the notebook (a new book)

This popped up in my feed this morning, and is very likely relevant to our interests. I haven’t read it, but I’ll be ordering it. Apologies if this has been noted (heh) elsewhere already. (I know, I should learn to use the search function.)


I’m ordering it right now! Thanks!

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Fascinating. Is this right, he’s been dead 75 years?

Haha, very fortunately not! The goodreads for the book credits it to this gent - Roland Allen (Author of Missionary Methods). - seems a fascinating chap of his own accord. But the author is fine and available on the YouTube video at the end of @dmrogers ’ link. Whoops!


I’ve reached to Roland Allen to see if he can join us at one of the meetups.


I ordered it as soon as I could, but my copy has only just arrived in the US from across the pond. Some interesting looking material here. Certainly meant for a broader public rather than the echelons of researchers like Ann M. Blair or Anthony Grafton. No mentions of Tinderbox in it so far… :wink:

Being on the right bank of the Pond, my copy of the book arrived a week or so plus. I’ve enjoyed the parts I’ve dipped into and it doesn’t demand a linear front-to-back read so its on my “I’ll just have break an read for a bit” stack. As you note it isn’t dense, small-point academic prose so good for a wide audience.

I find it dovetails nicely with other digestible pieces things like “Index, A History of” (Dennis Duncan), “A Place for Everything” (Judith Flanders), “The Book” and “Shady Characters” (Keith Houston ), “The Card Catalog” (Library of Congress). Each fills in another perspective of the whole, and they are a nice reading respite from the density of more scholarly tomes.

†. For those interested in things of an arithmetical bent, Houston’s just published “Empire of The Sum”, essentially the hidden history of the pocket calculator and its antecedents. Here, it’s on my list for Santa, so can’t report on it yet…

I’ve “read” Empire of the Sum. I was disappointed. It’s interesting, but it’s mostly a gloss. As a nerd who has an extensive collection of HP calculators and a few TI examples, it lacked any real depth. It’s almost more of a product catalog, or survey than a history.

It’s light reading with some nice product shots. The electronic calculator, much like the WalkMan, VHS (and Beta), the compact digital camera, and perhaps some other products I’m not thinking of, had a brief shining moment before they were consumed by ubiquitous computing and network effects.

There is a fascinating history in handheld electronic calculators. Someone should write it.

It’s a great title, though.

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While we’re talking about books relating to books on analog history of writing, thinking, and calculating, I’ll mention that I’m anxiously awaiting my copy of Marcin Wichary’s book Shift Happens: A Book About Keyboards. I’ve been watching some of Marcin’s research and process for quite a while. With luck, I’ll have it before the holidays.


Yes, I disciplined myself not to go for this. Envious as the looks lovely, but my floor is already obscured by piles of books—the shelves are all full. :slight_smile:


So am I, though I share Mark’s problem. There is, however, a spot in the living room where it might fit!

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Would it be worthwhile to have a meetup, perhaps Dec 17, dedicated to books and essays about note-taking? We appear to be seeing quite a few new and interesting books on this and allied topics…


I used to have this problem. But, I applied strict discipline and iron will … and got a Kindle. :grinning:
Now I only need to use Tinderbox to corral my vast ebook collection.


You might look into a session with Jillian Hess.