Listened Chris Aldrich on Cybernetic Communications from

Chris Aldrich has the most multi-disciplinary resume I’ve ever seen, with a background that includes biomedics, electrical engineering, entertainment, genetics, theoretical mathematics, and more. Chris describes himself as a modern-day cybernetician, and in this conversation we discuss cybernetics and communications, differences between oral and literary cultures, and indigenous traditions and mnemonics, among many other things.

The Informed Life Chris Aldrich on Cybernetic Communications

This is a fascinating conversation about memory, history and the changing of practices over time. I am intrigued by the discussion of ‘memory palaces’. I often find myself remembering where I was when I was listening to a book or a podcast, I am assuming that the memory palace is this in reverse. I also feel that Aldrich is someone who could easily speak for hours on these matters, unpacking each thread. As he says in closing:

Always leave ‘em wanting more.

Replied to My Reading Practices for Book Club Selections by Chris AldrichChris Aldrich (

As part of my reading process, particularly for book club related reading, I’ve lately settled on what seems to be a particularly productive method of reading for my needs.

Thank for sharing your process for reading as a part of a book club Chris.

Your first step of flicking through some reviews and the contents reminded me of a piece from The Marginalian about Bill Cosby’s strategies for reading faster, in which he talks about previewing first:

Previewing is especially useful for getting a general idea of heavy reading like long magazine or newspaper articles, business reports, and nonfiction books.

Source: How to Read Faster: Bill Cosby’s Three Proven Strategies by Maria Popova

I am interested in your us of audiobooks. I must admit, I have really turned to audiobooks as I felt I was never going to get quality reading time to sit quietly with a book. Just wondering, when listening, do you have to be giving your whole attention, or do you listen while doing other things? For example, I have heard Cory Doctorow explain how he ‘reads’ while swimming. Personally, I like listening in my lunch breaks while pounding the city streets, but I often wonder if there is something lost in doing two things at once, especially if I have a thought and want to make a note. Really, that is my biggest challenge, actually doing something with what I read.

Liked A Zettelkasten, Commonplace Books, and Note Taking Collection by Chris AldrichChris Aldrich (

Below I’ve aggregated a list of some of the longer articles and material I’ve written about these topics. The completist can find and search my site for even more specific material with these tags: zettelkastencommonplace books, and note taking. I’ve also contributed a fair amount to the Wikipedia pages for zettelkasten and commonplace books.

Replied to #FeedReaderFriday: A Suggestion for Changing our Social Media Patterns by Chris AldrichChris Aldrich (

In the recent Twitter Migration, in addition to trying out Mastodon, I’ve been seeing some people go back to blogs or platforms like, WordPress, Tumblr, WriteFreely (like Mastodon it’s a part of the Fediverse, but built for blogging instead of short posts) and variety of others. They?…

Sorry, late to getting to this piece Chris, as I get to my feeds in my own time. I have long lived a feed first existence. Even when engaging with Twitter, I have been consuming via my feed reader. I just realised that I can also produce a feed for Mastodon too using I sometimes feel like I am late to the conversation, however on the flip side I feel that the conversation is more in hand. I feel that if it is worth having then waiting is fine.
Bookmarked The Two Definitions of Zettelkasten by Chris AldrichChris Aldrich (

What do we mean when we say Zettelkasten? There’s a specific set of objects (cards and boxes or their digital equivalents), but there’s also a spectrum of methods or practices which can be split into two broad categories.

Chris Aldrich talks about what we talk about when we talk about zettelkasten. He continues his dive into the histories attached to note-taking. For me, this all reminds me of Doug Belshaw’s discussion of ‘digital literacies’ and the dangers of dead metaphors. What Belshaw encourages a discussion.

Our definition of digital literacies is something created by a community and continually negotiated. More often than not, this definition is taken for granted, rarely given air. Belshaw does not identify the eight different elements as an answer, but as a point of discussion. The definition is start of this discussion.

Liked The Logos, Ethos, and Pathos of IndieWeb (

Venture capital backed corporate social media has cleverly inserted themselves between us and our interactions with each other. They privilege some voices not only over others, but often at the expense of others and only to their benefit. We have been developing a new vocabulary for these actions with phrases like “surveillance capitalism”, “data mining”, and analogizing human data as the new “oil” of the 21st century. The IndieWeb is attempting to remove these barriers, many of them complicated, but not insurmountable, technical ones, so that we can have a healthier set of direct interactions with one another that more closely mirrors our in person interactions. By having choice and the ability to move between a larger number of service providers there is an increasing pressure to provide service rather than the growing levels of continued abuse and monopoly we’ve become accustomed to.

Listened Interview with Chris Aldrich from
Andy Sylvester discusses tools for thinking with Chris Aldrich. Aldrich suggests rather than finding the right solution, find something that works for you and stick to it. Associated with this, it is important to have a purpose for your notes, otherwise it can become an albatross around your neck. In regards to commonplace books, Aldrich touches on the long history and questions the need to recreate the wheel.
Replied to An Index for My Digital Commonplace Book by Chris AldrichChris Aldrich (

In reading about the history of commonplace books, I figured it’d be nice to have a full listing of all the categories and tags on my website for public reference. So I’ve now added an Index page.

Thank you Chris for link to Multi-Column Tag Map. I have created my own now. I have long wanted to build a better search page that allow me to filter search using tags and text. I think that this is a useful start. It is also a useful reminder to keep on top of my tags and clean up inconsistencies.

Side note, through the process I discovered I have 147 posts tagged ‘Chris Aldrich’.

Replied to by Chris AldrichChris Aldrich (

Who else keeps a waste book? 
I carry around a small notebook (usually a 48 page Field Notes) for short fleeting notes. Later I copy them into my commonplace book/zettelkasten/digital garden and expand upon them. 
Waste books were used in the tradition of the commonplace book. A well known example…

Chris, I think having analogue fleeting notes is the step I am missing at the moment. I find myself scribbling things in my work notebook as they come to mind, but I think that I should try a little pocket book for quick ideas.
Bookmarked Differentiating online variations of the Commonplace Book: Digital Gardens, Wikis, Zettlekasten, Waste Books, Florilegia, and Second Brains by Chris AldrichChris Aldrich (

Many of these products are selling themselves based on ideas or philosophies which sound and even feel solid, but they’re completely ignoring their predecessors to the tune of feeling like they’re trying to reinvent the wheel. As a result, some of the pitches for these products sound like they’re selling snake oil rather than tried and true methods that go back over 2,000 years of intellectual history.

With so much discussion of note taking tools, Chris Aldrich considers some the examples found in history of Western civilization. This includes commonplace books originating from Ancient Greece, Florilegium in Medieval Europe, Zettelkasten in 15th century Germany, Waste books/Sudelbücher derived from double-entry journals, and Wikis and digital gardens associated with the web. One area I wonder about is outliners and where these fit within the discussion of commonplace books? Are they a flavour or digital gardening? It has been interesting seeing some of Dave Winer’s engagements with Roam Research

It is also interesting to think about this alongside Clive Thompson’s exploration of to-do applications. I am intrigued to how they sometimes crossover.


Most significant thinkers, writers, and creators throughout history have kept something resembling a commonplace book. While many may want to attribute the output of historical figures like Erasmus, Newton, Darwin, Leibnitz, Locke, or Emerson to sheer genius (and many often do), I might suggest that their works were the result of sustained work of creating personal commonplace books—somewhat like a portable Google search engine for their day, but honed to their particular interests. (One naturally can’t ignore their other many privileges like wealth, education, and time to do this work, which were also certainly a significant factor in their success.)

Replied to Browser Bookmarklets for Giving Credit (

Create two bookmarks in your browser’s bookmark bar. Give them convenient names like “via” and “hat tip” and add the snippets of code respectively into the URL fields. On a site you want to give credit to, highlight the name of the author of the post and click the bookmarklet. You’ll see a pop up for some text which you can then cut and paste into your post to give the credit. You can obviously edit the text if necessary.

I am all in on this Chris, but I just can’t seem to get it to work. I created the bookmarklet, highlighted the name and clicked the bookmarklet, but there was no pop-up. I must admit, I do not use many bookmarklets, only Alan Levine’s really. I may therefore have to dig into this a bit further as it is probably me.
Replied to by Chris AldrichChris Aldrich (

Anyone want to collaborate on a slate of IndieWeb-related topics to submit for this? Proposals are due in late January and it would be interesting to have a handful of IndieWeb tech and some of our experiments discussed at this conference.

Thank you Chris for the mention. The OERxDomains Conference definitely sounds like an exciting event. In regards to participating,  I always feel a case of impostor syndrome.

To be honest, although I am in education and work with technology, my current role involves supporting schools with reporting and attendance. A far cry from Higher Education and being technology integrator. My involvement is something of a passion project. I like Brian Lamb and D’arcy Norman discussion of the ‘edtech refugee’ on the 25 Years of Ed Tech podcast, maybe I am a IndieWeb refugee?

In addition to this, the longer I spend hanging around the IndieWeb, the less technical I feel. Although I know more now, I think I know a lot more about what I do not know. Still need to finish reading Smashing WordPress Beyond the Blog that you recommended.

If you (or anyone else) think there is something I can help with, feel free to let me know. Just wanted it known that I am still driving my low down model, used by a little old lady just once a week to blog.

Replied to What, Why, and How-To’s of Creating a Site-Specific WordPress Plugin (WPBeginner)

Step by step guide that explains what is a site specific WordPress plugin, why you need it, and how you can create a site-specific WordPress plugin.

I have started tinkering with creating my own site specific plugin to capture things like improved search to include custom fields and stripping out emojis from the slug. This was somewhat inspired by Chris Aldrich and his changes to the Post Kinds plugin. I am also assuming that it is required to add additional kinds. Where I am stumped is the actual difference between dumping these changes in a child theme versus a site specific plugin. Aldrich talks about adding this information to wp-config.php. I am therefore wondering if I need to make a wp-config.php file in my site specific plugin and if this is all that is required? At the moment, I have just created a functions.php file and have placed my snippets there.

I am sure I just need to spend some more time down this rabbit hole, but right now I have hit the limit to my knowledge.

Replied to by Chris AldrichChris Aldrich (

I wasn’t seeing it before, but after upgrading to All in One SEO to 4.0.9 from 3.7ish, the Twitter plugin was throwing in some Twitter card metacrap that was causing a conflict. I’ve turned off the Twitter plugin which shouldn’t affect much since I wasn’t really using much of it’s addition…

Chris, was the Twitter Plugin how you were able to populate multiple tweets in the Post Kinds reply box or have you got a different method?
Replied to Crediting your own website when syndicating to Mastodon with WordPress plugins by Chris AldrichChris Aldrich (

I’ve been tinkering around with methods to automatically syndicate (POSSE) content from my personal website to Mastodon. I’ve been working at making a custom plugin which is far from finished. But a test post I made the other day, caught a few people’s attention[1][2].

Thank you for sharing Chris. I was wondering what you were doing. Might be time to dig back in again.
Replied to by Chris AldrichChris Aldrich (

Zuckerman and Rajendra-Nicolucci have an interesting looking research project here that aims to look at means of potentially providing more civic-minded social media. 
I thought I’d take a short stab at beginning a conversation on this front as it’s an important topic that is near and dear to m…

Chris, I always enjoy the way you are able to so succinctly explain the benefits of the IndieWeb.
Replied to by Chris AldrichChris Aldrich (

One thing I find myself wanting is a discovery-based follow button for Microsub that would allow me to input either my own following list or even my Twitter account which would then parse through my Twitter follows to allow me to quickly follow the personal websites that appear in people’s Twitter website and bio fields.

This sounds like a great idea.