Thursday, September 7, 2006 - Editor: Jerry
The Nondual Highlights
: In issue 2576, I said that the
was run by Sarlo, the guy who runs the Guru
Ratings list. Wrong! Guruphiliac
written, and edited by Jody
. (Why don't nonduality
bloggers use last names? I dunno.) But hey, I know
Jody! We've met a
couple of times and he is an outspoken, cool, smart, likable type of guy.
You can tell that from his blog. http://guruphiliac.blogspot.com/
Now on to today's issue, which is very
different from any other issue ever...
cards, with their scratch-outs, imperfect erasures and caret
insertions, jog our memory as only the tactile can."
I think nondual type people tend to live, or would like to
live, lives that are simple, direct, and effective. And so we bring you a
Nondual Highlights issue on one of the most simple, direct, and effective
inventions ever: the index card.
The following material is from Levenger: tools for serious
Check out their high quality products: http://snipurl.com/w34i
Just about everyone’s heard of—and has probably used—3 x 5 cards, but where
did they come from? Surprisingly, their origin dates back a thousand years. Also
known as index cards, their evolution is rooted in the concept of cataloging, or
indexing, key words in a book.
The monks of medieval times employed a
hands-on system for marking a manuscript’s key words: they would use a symbol
that indicated a finger pointing to the term—that digit being the forefinger, or
index finger. Index traces its roots to Latin and the concept of
informer, or pointer. Its Greek forbear means to show.
Eventually these pointy fingers found their way
to the back of the book in the form of an index of terms.
But how were
books themselves being catalogued? In fits and starts, it seems, with the
Alexandria Library using an alphabetical system in the third century B.C. E.,
but the European libraries using a peculiar rhyming system 11 centuries later.
Things got better organized in the nineteenth century, and in 1820 the
first card catalog appeared in a library in London.
The American hero of
the library index card was Melvil Dewey. He introduced his decimal
classification system in the 1870s, in the library at Amherst College in western
Massachusetts. The card he devised for his catalog drawers was approximately 3"
x 5". The typewriter had been invented a few years earlier, and ultimately the
card and the keys met and married.
The Library of Congress started printing its
catalog index cards in 1901. For the next eight decades or so, the library index
card and its attendant cabinets would serve as the Google of their day.
Nicholson Baker, in his elegiac essay on card catalogs that appeared in The
in 1994, reported that the New York Public Library harbored 10
With all these cards in libraries, perhaps it was only a
matter of time before they segued into general use. Thrifty librarians primed
the pump by setting out discarded cards for patrons to use for notes. Seeing the
cards’ usefulness, stationers began offering blank cards for sale. Business and
professional people, writers and students adopted the cards as standard tools
for researching, filing and organizing information.
And then, of course,
computers struck. Card cabinets in libraries were dismantled and the cards
discarded. There simply wasn’t enough room anymore to capture all our knowledge
on a 3" x 5" descendant of papyrus. The once ubiquitous little cards, whose
origins are so closely linked to cataloging knowledge, teetered on the brink of
But not quite.
index card drawing
The index card is still a handy
palimpsest, the screen on which one can quickly capture first ideas, reminder
notes, titles of books friends recommend, your grandmother’s recipe for pumpkin
pie. Index cards, with their scratch-outs, imperfect erasures and caret
insertions, jog our memory as only the tactile can.
By contrast, electronic systems live a
perilously finite existence. Better operating systems, application software and
search engines will come along and the current hero will be banished, forgotten,
Get your digit out, the English are fond of saying—meaning, get
cracking. Get your digit out—and your pen—and jot a note on an index card. It
still has a place in the digital world.
How to thrive with the power of 3 x 5
They have been around for a century, they’re as low-tech as
they come, but 3 x 5 cards can fill an exalted role among twenty-first-century
thinkers. Within the realm of capturing ideas and acting on them, they fill a
niche that notebooks and electronics can’t. What could be...
- simpler to use
- easier to shuffle around
- handier to keep and pull from a pocket
- more disposable—or lasting—than a simple index card?
The power of 24/7
At Levenger, we first saw 3 x 5 cards as a larger and more functional
business card. Stand them vertically so that they’re 5 x 3, and you can write a
note right on your business card.
Gradually, we’ve realized that their
power goes beyond this. Three-by-fives are the stuff of 24/7 ideas, better than
back-of-the-envelope yet engendering that same freewheeling kind of thinking
that often leads to the Great Idea.
And they’re not only for taking
notes on the run. They’re for anywhere and any way you capture, develop and
organize ideas. That’s why, in addition to our Pocket
Briefcases for travel, you’ll now find your
3 x 5’s close to home.
x 5 tips from Steve
key tip: try to limit what you write on cards to a single topic or subject, such
as a grocery list on one card, a hardware list on another. For work, keep cards
for different people or areas of responsibility.”
“I use a very
fine-point pen to get lots of information on one card and I write neatly—most of
“I almost never write on the backs, and this saves me
from always having to turn cards around to see if there is writing on the back.
Occasionally, when I’m taking a bunch of notes on one topic, like during a
speech, then I’ll write on the backs. But I number each card side, 1, 2, 3,
which is my cue to look at the backs.”
Steve also uses them to
make daily lists of to-dos that he adds to and crosses off as he goes through