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Tinderbox Users >> Questions and Answers >> Strategies for studying-analyzing a book

Message started by Steve Scott on Aug 6th, 2016, 5:32pm

Title: Strategies for studying-analyzing a book
Post by Steve Scott on Aug 6th, 2016, 5:32pm

Outline vs Map or, Both?

I am studying a book and I want to create a tinderbox to help my understanding and create new thoughts.  So far, my strategy is to make a map for each chapter.  I love the visual nature of building a map— it helps to see how the concepts and ideas fit together.  However, if I build a map, I don't have the hierarchy of an outline.  Is there a way to get the best of both worlds?  

Map View

Outline View

Suggested Prototypes

What prototypes would you recommend? I'm thinking:
- book notes
- people
- quotes
- references
- my thoughts

Suggestion for quotes
What is the best way to keep the notes and quotes linked to the reference material?  Should every note link to a reference?  Or should, every note contain all of the bibliography fields?

I would be eager to hear any other thoughts on how you use TBX to help you on a research project.

Does anyone have a book study .tbx that you can share as a model?

Title: Re: Strategies for studying-analyzing a book
Post by Mark Bernstein on Aug 6th, 2016, 10:04pm

Is there a reason you want to use outlines here?  Is there some answer to which outlines are likely to provide an answer?  If not, leave them be!

Again, much depends on just what task you're addressing.  Are there aspects of each book (or of some books, or certain notes) that you want to keep out of the map?  Student reactions, perhaps, or technical glosses on the text, or details of where to find the book in your library?  Those could go inside the book note.

Title: Re: Strategies for studying-analyzing a book
Post by Desalegn on Aug 7th, 2016, 3:35am

Here is my suggestion (or, what I am doing right now):

Give every author a container. If you are reading a number of books from the same author, still, separate  the Titles of the books in the Author container with another container.  
Separate the chapters of the books with a Separator.

So, when you are reading Book1 of Woody Allan, you open the Container Book1 in a tab. The sb will open until you finish that book. You work on that book; as deep as you want; draw diagrams b/N ideas, chapters, etc....

If the chapters are very complex and will be spending weeks on them, you might open a container to them too.

Here is my note:

Right now, I am reading Hicks Chapter 2: so, here is how it looks in the Map view.

Indeed, the strategy is all up to you. And, you see that I am not consistent with my Containers and Separators. I sometimes put the chapters as Containers, sometimes as Separators. If you see a book with separators, that means, I have finished the book; I have flattened it from a Container to a Separator. Most of the books had a lot of containers in them when I were reading them. When I finish reading them, I flatten the containers to compare ideas in each of the chapters in one map (you can also use agents for this purpose; but, this is just me).

1. The ability Zoom in: that is, I want to be deep into the content; focus on the chapter I am reading now. In Xmind, they call this property Digin. You Digin into it. I use the Tab and the Containers to Digin into the chapter. In this first stage, the Containers are very useful. They are the curtains to block all the distraction around.

2. Ability co compare and contrast., so that I will not be lost in the details. You have to do this task after you finish the digging in process.

The compare and contrasting of the idea is done by:  using agents; and, by removing Containers after you finished reading the chapters--flattening them into Separators.

A sidenoteas you would expect from the structure, my notes are big ones. I don't write a separate note for every quotation. Since I read hundreds of books and articles, putting out every quote or paragraph as a separate $Note would  give me many thousands of notes which will grow unmanageable. And, for people who want to elevate every paragraph as a separate $note, I would recommend you to use Sente as a reading tool; it has such a system. I have that system for a long time. You can then import those small notes into TB.
For me, I had too many notes to manage; I dropped the system. I am now writing longer notes in TB. Exploding the long notes is also a possibility; I don't find that very useful though.  The beautify of the small notes in Sente was on the $Title, anyways; I used to summarize the core points of the paragraphs on the $Titles. Sente is also probably disappearing, unfortunately.

Of course, the strategies are always personal choices. This is just to give you a little frame to work on (if you are just beginning); which is better than a blank statement of "all your choice.

Title: Re: Strategies for studying-analyzing a book
Post by Dominique Renauld on Aug 16th, 2016, 9:06pm

Nice map! When I began to take reading notes with Tinderbox, I used to take my notes using Map View. In this way, I could easily "map" and see my notes. I didn't try to "map" my mind, I mean : writing and mapping ideas note by note: I didn't want to mix my research notes with personal thoughts. I use to take short notes about a particular idea and indicate to Tinderbox when it's about a definition or a quote. 2 years ago, I modified my way of processing it: now, I take my notes in Outline View —  which is in my reading workflow faster to use than take the time to map every note — and map personal notes. Containers help me to gather my notes by author and titles. And when I have to find a specific note, I use cmd + F or I open a new tab and search into a list of tags. I made a short video about it: https://vimeo.com/149752468

Title: Re: Strategies for studying-analyzing a book
Post by Desalegn on Aug 18th, 2016, 9:34am

Dominique Renauld

Oh, you are the one who did that video. I watched that video a couple of times being mesmerised by the  the tone of the narration. yes, yes, this is good conversation. Not all new users should  go through the pain of making mistakes and correct ourselves: experienced users sharing their best habits and tricks makes TB much user friendly.

Thanks for the video.

I was also trying to imitate your system into mine; for some time; because what you are doing is really very similar to what I am doing.

At the beginning, I was having almost similar to yours. I was inserting the bibliography information into the attribute (automated from Bookends; based on this forum)

And, then, I realized that I don't use much of these attribute values. I never used these values in the analysis; or to find specific information. I then moved to a  simpler system where I would insert information only useful for the analysis:
Now, here is my attribute: value:

The trigger contains the link to the pdf file: that is all I have about the source.

I was just worried you have many attributes--that filling them up would take more time than working on the book.

So, since  you are here, I want to ask you: Do you  have specific reason why you fill all the details about the publication? how do you use these informations in your analysis?

Video part 2: detailing how you use these attribute values would be of great interest.

Title: Re: Strategies for studying-analyzing a book
Post by Dominique Renauld on Aug 18th, 2016, 10:07am

Thanks for your kind words.
The reason why I fill those details is simply that I need to know what every note is about, because in so far as I use Endnote and a bibtex file for my bibliography, I don't need to have a third set of filled files. But, as you suggest it, if I had to analyse some data as you seem to do, such as dates, publishers, and so on, I'd probably search for another way of indexing my data. However, tags attribute is of great utility for my research even if I tend to use much more easily cmd + f shortcut instead of reading a long list of tags. But, I hope one day I have to set some specific agents in order to gather particular notes. So the tags attributes will be very useful. As soon as I have time to do it, I'll think about your suggestion of video.

Title: Re: Strategies for studying-analyzing a book
Post by Desalegn on Aug 18th, 2016, 10:23am

Yes, the $Tags are extremely useful. I use them with agents.
As for the "analysis", I don't meant  that I use data analysis like in Excel. I mean, in digging useful information in the cloud of notes. I have more than 1500 notes collected over the years. Most of them are long notes; about 5-10 pages.

Like you are doing, I also use the CMD+F often. I also use agents  to collect the notes containing a specific terms inside the $Text; or inside the $tags.  

What really makes the big difference is not how we write the attributes and their values; it is rather how we use them  to discover new information and connection --for the progress of our research. The ability to help in seeing new connections,  is  the promise of TB. As a result, I am very eager to see how people discover connections among their ideas using TB's internal tools (attributes).

I am looking forward to your video.


Title: Re: Strategies for studying-analyzing a book
Post by Dominique Renauld on Aug 18th, 2016, 12:02pm

My field of research - a psychoanalytic positioning in the sciences of education - doesn't allow me to analyse data in a quantitative view. For instance, I don't need to collect words recurrences to establish frequencies or places where specific words appear in a speech, but I tried successfully to do it with Tinderbox, using ad hoc agents to show some specific data with a set of colors: "Tinderbox, please, let me show when and where such words appear in that grid of 40 brown rectangles and color each of them in blue when you find that the word "but" appears." Therefore, I use Tinderbox chiefly for the three following reasons:
1. Taking reading notes and archive them.
2. Depositing notes in such an "inbox" GTD users know.
3. Finding notes that I forgot and discovering those notes are a part of a set of other notes, connected by the same words or the same attributes.
In my experience, the connections between notes are made during the moments I read and take notes using Map View.

Title: Re: Strategies for studying-analyzing a book
Post by Desalegn on Aug 18th, 2016, 12:45pm

In my experience, the connections between notes are made during the moments I read and take notes using Map View.

Do you put every paragraph (or quote) into a separate note when you read? or you just write longer texts inside the $Text?

Assume  you find an interesting quotation; and want to comment on it (how you are going to use it; or you want to include it in your next research paper), do you put your comment in a separate note in the map? Or, you comment just beneath the quote inside the $Text?

And, assume the quote triggered an idea you read in another book; and, you want to compare  those ideas, if they are compatible, or in conflict to each other, how do you bring them together?

Title: Re: Strategies for studying-analyzing a book
Post by Dominique Renauld on Aug 18th, 2016, 3:41pm

I don't write any personal idea in my reading notes. I gather some informations that help me think. And when I need to insert some specific quote in the body of my thesis, I first write the quote in Tinderbox, then I copy and paste it in the section of my thesis in a Scrivener document. But I remember that I made the first elaboration of my thesis in Tinderbox using Map View. At this time of the process, 5 years ago, I often used to link my ideas (hypothesis, associations) to a lot of notes I had and see something emerging from this amount of notes.
For the moment, I don't need to bring my notes together when I find out that some of them are very similar. However, I noticed that when I open the Attribute Browser and see my tags, I have a lot of similar notes sharing the same topic. For instance, if I have to write something about writing, I would have a good basis to explore some hypothesis. In fact, I am aware that I use Tinderbox especially in order to archive my reading notes and to see, visualize and mapping my ideas, but not yet to put Tinderbox in a way it could help me find some new ideas, new unknown thoughts.
Yesterday, I tried to take some notes while I was listening to a philosophic radio program. I had created a new file I called "Atlas" and set two prototypes: one for the whole file, the other for the name of that radio program. Then, I began to take and connect some notes and, probably because I use to think in that way of processing, I began to see something like a structure.

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