Tinderbox Meetup Video Sunday 18 February 24: Tools for Thought with Chris Aldrich

Tinderbox Meetup Sunday 18 February 24: Tools for Thought with Chris Aldrich

Level Beginner
Published Date 2/18/24
Revision 1
Type Meetup
Tags 5Cs, 5Cs Learning and Knowledge Management, Eastgate, External Brain, Identity Praxis, Indigenous knowledge, Kahneman/Tversky’s System 1/System 2, Markov Monkeys, Niklas Luhmann, Note-taking, Ratchet Method, Second Memory, Tinderbox, orality
Video Length 01:42:10
Video URL https://youtu.be/aY4X9-DjtZo
Example File TBX L - Using Action Code to Change Attributes if Checked Equals True.tbx (311.0 KB)
TBX Version 9.7
Instructor Michael Becker

In this Tinderbox meetup, Chris Aldrich walked us through the rich history of mankind’s efforts to think, take notes, and share ideas. Hi highlighted numerous things, authors, books, articles, and processes that people have used over the centuries to make sense of information. Also, we responded to a TBX How To question that @tinderlove raised in the chat.

##About Chris Chris Aldrich (@chrisaldrich) is a modern-day cyberneticist. A graduate of Johns Hopkins, he’s a biomedical and electrical engineer with an interest in the entertainment industry and an extensive online commonplace book. See, for example, his notecards on notecards.

1 .@Frederick Hirsch: Is there a way to change the icon for an event note when it is checked to show visually it is done?
2. @Frederick Hirsch: I have in outline view a note like “kitchen” and other tasks to do such as “fix stove”, as well as “living room” with “paint the room”. What I’d like to do is have the todos get an attribute for the parent when placed under it, e.g. ‘fix stove’ would have the room attribute set to ‘kitchen’. I assume it is similar - something like get parent name?

TBX L - Using Action Code to Change Attributes if Checked Equals True.tbx (311.0 KB)

TBX Meetup 18FEB24 Unedited Zoom AI Companion Script


The team discussed issues with Zoom and the optimal placement of prototypes within their software application. The discussion touched on memory and knowledge retention, the use of mnemonic tools, and the history and evolution of note-taking. Towards the end, they decided to reschedule Mark Anderson presentation and had a discussion about note-taking, emphasizing the role of simplicity in system design.


Zoom Setup, Prototype Placement, and Vision Pro Discussion

Dave encountered issues with setting up Zoom on his new MacBook, which Michael and Mark Anderson assisted him with. The team also discussed the optimal placement and management of prototypes within their software application. They agreed that prototypes should be placed at the root of the note, not in a prototypes folder, to avoid confusion. They also considered displaying the contents of the prototypes folder for better user understanding. Dave successfully shared his screen during the meeting and Mark Bernstein sought clarification on some points. The potential use of the Vision Pro technology for their projects was also briefly discussed.

Tinderbox Meetup With Special Guest Chris Aldrich

Mark Bernstein introduced himself as the designer of Tinderbox and mentioned an upcoming special guest speaker, Chris Aldrich, an engineer and author working on a book about the entertainment representation business. Mark also reminded attendees about a special meetup on weblogs and Tinderbox scheduled for the following Saturday. Michael then took over the meeting, outlining the agenda which included a discussion on how to use Tinderbox, a tutorial on shortcuts by Mark Anderson, and a presentation by Chris Aldrich. Theodore introduced himself and asked about organizing an archive at the Library of Congress, with Michael suggesting he start a thread on the Tinderbox forum for further help. Eric also introduced himself as a new user and expressed interest in learning more about Tinderbox.

Indigenous Note-Taking Practices Exploration

He showed interest in exploring indigenous note-taking practices and mnemonic techniques, intending to lead a conversation at an advanced level rather than focusing on basic how-to’s. Chris also shared his experiences with note-taking in school and the workplace, highlighting his unique approach to learning, which helped him excel in engineering and math spaces. He concluded by suggesting that note-taking traditions might be more beneficial in other fields.

Note-Taking History and Evolution Discussed

Chris discussed the history and evolution of note-taking, highlighting the importance of understanding its roots in ancient Greece and Rome, and its modern context. He criticized the tendency to overlook this history and emphasized that understanding it could prevent unnecessary tool development. Chris mentioned historical figures and their contributions to note-taking, such as Erasmus, Philip Melanson, Richard Agricola, and Beatrice Webb. He concluded by discussing the practices of 11th-century polymath Raymond Yol, whose unique memory enhancement methods Chris believed could be beneficial today.

Memory and Knowledge Retention Techniques

Chris led a discussion on memory and knowledge retention, highlighting the significance of linking ideas and concepts together to form new ones. He emphasized the role of mnemonic tools such as the kipu used by indigenous cultures and the practice of writing things down for future reference. Participants shared their own mnemonic practices and discussed the use of acronyms and short forms in their tagging system. Chris introduced the concept of “combinatorial creativity,” a term he coined to describe generating new ideas by combining existing ones. The conversation also touched on the use of mnemonics in various cultures, including Indigenous Australian songlines and the memory palaces technique used by Westerners.

Memorizing Quran, Epic Poetry, and Extended Mind Thesis

Chris discussed the practice of memorizing the Quran, noting that it takes about 2 hours for a group of people to recreate it if it were destroyed. He compared this practice to the memorization of epic poetry in other cultures and argued that writing is not a prerequisite for thought. Mark Bernstein asked about the extended mind thesis, to which Chris responded that he finds the thesis interesting and that there is a good book on the topic that came out in 2022. Chris also shared his own practice of using Zotero to store and organize his notes.

Mnemonic Techniques and Associative Memory

Chris discussed the history and personal application of mnemonic techniques, particularly emphasizing the use of extreme imagery to remember small details. He then explained the concept of associative trails, which involve linking memories to context and events. Michael introduced a company that aims to normalize data using similar principles, suggesting a connection to the concept of a memory palace. Chris emphasized the role of associative memory and timed repetition in human learning and recall. He recommended the use of colorful or unusual associations to reinforce memory and suggested that holidays could serve as a form of repetition for mnemonic practice. There was a brief mention of Lynn Kelly at the end, but it was unclear if it was related to the main topic.

Stonehenge and Associative Memory

Chris discussed the concept of associative memory, using the example of Stonehenge. He explained that the arrangement of rocks at Stonehenge functioned as a physical space for memorizing information and that knowledge could be associated with a particular stone. Chris noted that similar practices were prevalent in stone and wooden circles across Eastern Europe. He further suggested that this method was used to pass down the Old Testament in ancient times, referencing the mnemonic traditions of the Western culture. Chris emphasized that the contents of the Arc of the Covenant, including the ten commandments, were encoded and used as a quick reference before battle. However, he noted that these written plans are no longer available.

Associative Memory and Technology’s Impact

Chris elaborated on the power of associative memory and its role in enhancing creativity and recall. He emphasized the importance of daily practice to strengthen associative memories. He also referenced the ‘extended mind’ thesis and had a discussion with Michael about the effects of technology on memory. Michael shared his experience with technology affecting his memory and brought up a study about the bias of choice. Chris also discussed the use of meditation in religious practices in the Middle Ages to enhance reading and comprehension through associative memories.

Memory and Technology in Sales and Economics

Chris, Michael, and Dave had a discussion about memory, its role in various contexts, and its application. Chris emphasized the benefits of memorization, especially in professions like sales and high-end negotiations, but also noted the availability of resources like price sheets. Dave discussed the role of technology in aiding recall and organization of information, highlighting the significance of associative memory. Chris then touched on the concept of bias of choice and the emerging field of behavioral economics. He explained the concept of system one and system two thinking and its application to note-taking. The conversation concluded with Chris mentioning the concept of a “second memory” or “external memory”.


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