The Art of CRIMPing

What is CRIMP ?
A definition by Stephen Zeoli:

CRIMP stands for a make-believe malady called compulsive-reactive information management purchasing.
Symptoms include:
– never being satisfied with your current system of information management
– continuously being on the look-out for something newer and better
– purchasing every new PIM program you learn about
– and secretly hoping you won’t find the perfect PIM, because then you’d have to stop looking for a better one

The first two symptoms really apply to me, the third only partially – I actually test every PIM (= Personal Information Manager) I learn about, but I am lucky that my financial means are limited, so I can’t buy all the candy in the store.
And, concerning the last symptom: since I am an information freak, I definitely hope to find the perfect PIM, to store and access all information I gather, for life.
My goal: becoming nothing less than a Master of Shih. (Shih = the aesthetics and beauty of knowledge).
MindMapping sounds like a good idea, but it is only there to represent a limited amount of knowledge, e.g. a book or article. It is great for brainstorming or memorizing a speech you are going to give, because you can always find your way in the information you want to deliver to your audience, without being bound by your own preparation. But it is too limited for getting the overall picture of the System of the World.
I’ve tried the TiddlyWiki system, which is an interesting effort to develop a non-linear, portable notebook with tagging and hyperlinking. It works on a thumb drive, but as your Tiddly grows, it slows down because it is actually a single html page.
Another system is ConnectedText, that also combines the advantages of a TiddlyWiki with portability, but looks more like a personal Wiki-system.
Until now The Brain is my favorite PIM, because it has the idea of MindMapping, but with more flexibility in adding and connecting branches of information, combined with tagging and hyperlinking. The Brain is also there in a portable version, but it also possible to store your Brains in the cloud, so you can access them everywhere on your tablet. You can even edit your brain on your tablet, but since my brains are quite large, this is a bit of a challenge.
The OmniOutliner-app works fine for outlining a book, exporting as OPML and importing it in The Brain so you can combine linear note-taking with non-linear linking with other information. But, for me, it doesn’t work to read a book or e-book with my iPad next to me. Old fashioned as I am, I like to take notes in my note-books. A few years ago I switched from Moleskines to LiveScribe. The LiveScribe notebooks have the look of Moleskine, but writing with the LiveScribe never felt good, although it was a welcome feature that I could export a completed notebook to pdf.
Now my LiveScribe pen doesn’t work anymore. I am thinking about buying a new one, but probably I should see it as an opportunity to go back to the good old handwriting with a 4-color pen, like I used before.
Especially since I came across the interesting W. Ross Ashby Digital Archive via a post on the TiddlyWiki mailinglist. His archive of 25 NoteBooks and his two card index systems made me feel sorry about destroying my own card system that I maintained for indexing choral music many years ago. (IRL I’m a choral conductor). My system not only used two alphabetical systems (one on composers, one on song titles), but also worked with colors (in the first system for mixed, male or female choir, and with or without accompaniment; in the second system colors for special use like Christmas, Eastern, love-songs, etc), that made it easy to consult and find the repertoire I needed for scheduling the concert. I expected computers and the internet to not only replace my card cabinets (and thus creating some space in my house, already cluttered up with books and magazines, but also to make it easier to index and retrieve the choral music I was looking for.

What a huge mistake.

W. Ross Ashby’s archive – a mère a boire – inspired me to value the card index again. But going back to paper file cards is no longer an option. Two programs for a digital file card (“Zettelkasten”) system are there: the iPad app “Index Card” (especially popular with writers, because it integrates with the Mac-version of the Scrivener software. The other one is Zettelkasten. Free and portable, unfortunately not available for your tablet, yet. And, biggest annoyance, the two programs don’t talk to each other. Both are good, but you cannot export your Index Card-cards to a format Zettelkasten can read.

A good introduction on using the Zettelkasten-system is written by Christian Tietze: Create a Zettelkasten for your Notes to Improve Thinking and Writing. At this page you can find some other programs, but unfortunately most of them are written for the Mac.

So, for now: back to basics: manually note-taking with 4-color pen and Moleskine, transferring it into Zettelkasten, The Brain and ConnectText.

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  • The Aesthetics and Beauty of Knowledge

    Shih was the opposite of facts and raw information; shih was the elegance of knowledge, the insight and skill to organize knowledge into meaningful patterns. As an artist chooses colours or light to make her pictures, a master of shih chooses textures of knowledge – various ideas, myths, abstractions, and theories – to create a way of seeing the world. The aesthetics and beauty of knowledge – this was shih.

    – David Zindell, The Broken God, 1993

  • Geek Attitude

    The attitude thing is about flexibility, portability, creativity, sociability and jamming (ran out of suitable “ity” words!). It’s about improvising – in the practical and musical senses of the word; not getting tangled in boundaries and the “right” way to do things.
    Definitely the only way to travel.
    Martin Delaney – “Laptop Music”.