Theknowledgecore's Blog

Complexity and Knowledge Management Navigators…

Physical V Technology based artefacts (Nichola Taleb)

This is taken from Nicholas Taleb’s ‘Opacity’ webpage (

I have been trying to put into words the need for physical artefacts when creating knowledge stores, he does a much better job than I ever could…

66 – Real Books v/s Digital Words: Memory & Aesthetics

Fools do not want to accept that the real thing is better than the electronic. In other words, a text does not simplify a book. A book is so much real than a PDF on my hard disk. The experience of reading something you hold in your hands is more aesthetically rewarding: a book is better looking than a flat screen –it has an extra dimension. But to me, the main advantage is that I remember far, far better what I read in a book. My memory solidifies around hard objects, specific books, parts of my library. The classical mnemotechnic originates with the Greeks method of the loci: it consists in attaching memories to physical objects, a stone in a wall, a specific part of a ceiling, etc. You imagine a building & invest some of the locations with things to remember. In Luria’s account of the synesthete who could remember everything in great detail, there is a striking scene. Sh. [the patient-protagonist], has his memory failing him on a small detail because there is a cloud hiding the object to which the memory was attached.

I do the same when I read a book: the ideas are incarnations in specific objects of my library. [ A rendering on a computer screen is not permanent, a book is]I remember specific pages & get in a state of rage when someone tries to help “organize” or “alphabetize” my books. I also remember the physical notes I jot down on the front of a book, &, five years later, looking at them triggers a chain of remembrances… In the picture above I took notes on the book & just glancing at the front pages allows me to remember the ideas of the book & the conditions under which I read them. The book above it is very comprehensive, very deep, & covers the main ideas in social science, so I do not want to miss anything & would like to retain most of its contents decades from now (I am still on page 300).

So, what do you think?

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This entry was posted on March 6, 2011 by in Uncategorized.
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