So here’s a quickie about what I have been thinking. We usually hear general comments about notetaking being the same, e.g.
– A blog is a virtual commonplace book
– Facebook is a modern scrapbook
– What’s the difference between a journal/notebook/diary again?
Here’s the way I see it. The main questions are:
1. Are you writing the content just for yourself?
2. Are you writing the content so someone else (family, friends, the whole world) can see it?
Commonplace books? I don’t agree with the idea that blogs are the modern commonplace books. A blog is a public persona. A commonplace was a private internet, a private tool to help someone present a persona. Showing someone your commonplace book seems the equivalent of showing them your shaving kit. You wouldn’t want people to see the commonplace itself if the idea is that you make it (‘it’ being your wit, knowledge, ability to quote poetry/prose) seem natural.
But then again it’s that “man behind the curtain” element that I think makes commonplaces so interesting for me. What type of personal tool would someone from different countries and different eras find essential to present their impression of the best “public persona”? What specific quotes would they want to memorise for exactly the right time? What events do they want to recall quickly in a social setting, with the help of their essential little leatherbound book?
It’s different for everyone, of course.