Return of the inventor’s commonplace book?

How did some of the best thinkers in history store and reference their notes?

One way emerged during  the renaissance when some of the worlds best minds in culture, art, science, and politics used something called a ‘commonplace book’. It was used for storing and referencing notes which was essential component of the creative process as it allowed information to be organized and indexed so that you could quickly enter and retrieve a note. In the 17th century John Locke (the philosopher and physician), wrote a book called ‘A new method of making Commonplace books’ which laid out his method for arranging quotations, ideas, proverbs in categories that could be referenced by an index page and this quickly caught on with others. These books were referenced again in Steven Johnson’s ‘Where Good Ideas Come From’ which compared commonplace books to the web where information could be shared easily leading to greater innovation. The commonplace book would be your personal record of what was important to you and often aided in a greater purpose – to write a book or research for a thesis. In this way it differed from a journal and instead encouraged the sharing of initial, fragile ideas that needed to be revisited, referenced, built upon, and connected with other ideas.

This idea of a commonplace book was an inspiration for Recknsense – a place for thoughts, ideas, early notions and references could be stored and shared in case one day they could lead to something bigger.

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