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Greg McVerry

How I Build My Common Place Book

5 min read

Creating a Navigable Rabbit Hole

I only caught the tail end of the Common Place Book session at camp online as it fell right during dinner.  Since I didn't get to share with everyone I thought I would lay out a few strategies in a quick post here and overtime"My Common Place Book" will turn into an article on my website.

Tha't my goal.

The rewinding of the evolution of thought back to the impetus that sent me spiraling down some rabbit hole.

Along the way, I want to share my journey as I make sense of the world and characters around me. 

Finding you Key and Opening Tiny Doors of Knowledge

At first, you have a small idea sparked by some key. Could be a comment from chat or something you read but now you need to move forward so you begin to search and squeeze through that small door. You only have a tiny idea to burrow into the world of knowledge.

Getting Lost In the Stream

Given choices of what media to consume I quickly bookmark resources. This is how my commonplace book begins. You have to be careful at first when beginning to collect thoughts. At first, you may think you know everything and your head will hit the ceiling, and you can always get swept away in the stream of information.

There will be people shouting and distracting and you can get lost in a sea of tears.

Asking Elders and Networks

So you form a question and begin to ask the people and networks in your circle. For me this might be sending to a listserv but I always try to keep a copy here.

Through the smoky haze a better picture emerges.

Entering Houses of Thought

As friends leave, only the memories of their smiles left,  you head back to work and have a new source in your arms. Unsure if you are holding a baby or a pig you begin to read and annotate to find out.

As I build my commonplace book I have been trying to bring my annotations home. When I use hypothesis with all my friends I export to HTML and add to my website for my personal reading been trying to be better at starting to annotate from my website and return to my bookmarks and grab quotes and add reflections

Going Mad Drafting

Now that you have congealed some thoughts you now have to pull these all together and begin to draft. This is where you can truly go mad as you sift through all your prior tags and bookmarks like China at some mad tea party.

In fact this is one of the few times where I may seek shelter by posting privately or if others are joining me for the party I might find myself in Google Docs as most people are not comfortable in HTML or want to use an etherpad (plus Google Docs is a better tool for collaborative editing).

Bringing a Piece to Court

Once my thoughts and drafts get organized I am ready to present them to the court. I am trying to rethink the academy where every reviewer doesn't threaten a piece with execution. I feel the current system is meant to keep scholars small and the Academy will scream at us if we try to grow by presenting evidence from our own domain.

Finding Freedom

I believe once we can stand a mile high on our own Domain we will no longer need the corrupt publication industry that exploits our work and can think fo 42 reasons why we do not need to publish our work in silos. In fact, I am trying to establish a journal that will allow us to publish from our own domain.

My Flow

I am disorganized. Character trait, not too fixable, more needs management, and until I recently brought everything home to my own domain I was horrible at digital storage. Years fo short stories are on some floppy disk somewhere, I have accounts for everything. I was no good at Zotero, Evernote was a joke, Used Google Keep for a hot minute, okayish at Mendeley (until they went to the dark side, pretty good at hypothesis, but best from my own domain.

I have everything now. I do not have to worry about this plugin or that. It is all mine. Everything gets sent to the Internet Archive so it also mine and yours forever.

  • Document impetus of thought (often after the fact)
  • Collect initial bookmarks
  • Ask in networks, bookmark your queries
  • Collect research, and block quotes or use social annotations
  • Begin to formulate thoughts in random blog posts
  • Start to draft the long form thought
  • Publish an article on my Domain. 

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