I wrote recently about how my bullet journal is becoming more of a traditional journal now. It also serves as a common-place book for various bits of information. This post from Public Domain Review goes into detail about how John Locke organized his common-place book and briefly reflects on how the glut of information that was a consequence of the printing press made such books popular.
With the rise of printing technologies, common-place books reflected an anxiety with a deluge of new information still present today. John Locke was concerned with not just how to access it, but how to organise and recall it. In the age of the internet, as Steven Johnson writes, we are equally led into “common places”, where associations are constructed through happenstance (e.g. from a Google search); our job, he adds, is to sort that information out whilst also enabling connections to germinate.
I was particularly impressed with Locke’s way of indexing by using each of the letters of the alphabet, then assigning the 5 vowels to each of them. Using his method, pages that contained info related to blogging would be indexed under the B with the O secondary. It’s a rather ingenious way of organizing scraps of information. You just have to remember how you classified each discrete bit of data.