Is Partly a Shared Digital Commonplace Book

In describing the purpose of this blog, I have sometimes called it a digital shared commonplace book, focusing especially on the topics that I focus most of my research on: entrepreneurship and innovation.

(p. B5) Creating a commonplace book is somewhat like marking your favorite lines in a novel with the Amazon Kindle highlights feature — except your personal one-stop knowledge repository can also include song lyrics, movie dialogue, poems, recipes, podcast transcripts, and any inspiring bits you find in your reading and listening. The commonplace book is not a new concept: Copying down your favorite lines from other people’s works into your own annotated notebook was a standard exercise in Renaissance Europe, and the idea can be traced to the Roman era.

. . .

If you’ve never made a commonplace book before, first learn how others have used them. Academic libraries, along with museums, are home to many commonplace books, and you can see them without leaving the couch. John Milton’s commonplace book is on the British Library site, and the personal notebooks of other writers and thinkers pop up easily with a web search.

The Yale University Library has scanned pages of historical commonplace books in its holdings, and the Harvard Library has a few in its own online collection, as well as images of a version of John Locke’s 17th-century guide to making commonplace books, which was originally published in French. And the Internet Archive has hundreds of digitized commonplace books for browsing or borrowing, including one from Sir Alec Guinness.

For the full commentary see:

J. D. Biersdorfer. “PERSONAL TECH; A Line Moves You? Put Down the Highlighter.” The New York Times (Thursday, February 11, 2021): B5.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Feb. 10, 2021, and has the title “PERSONAL TECH; Create a Digital Commonplace Book.”)

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