Zettelkasten Forum

What are Buffer Notes?



  • Better late than never, as the buffer duffer said. (A duffer is someone who does something enthusiastically, but without talent or real ability; it is often used of golfers who like to play but can't hit the ball straight.) Nothing like a good language discussion! But all this gave me a headache, so I reached for some aspirin. My brand of choice? Bufferin, of course. (So called, because it is coated for those whose stomachs are upset by plain aspirin.)

    I did understand right away that "buffer" was being used in the computer sense. Y'all are probably too young to remember (I have shoes that I suspect are older than many of you), but in the old dial-up days, we often had to wait what seemed an eternity while the system was "buffering." So I got it, but I agree it may not be the best term here. (I'm not sure I agree that it is confusing, only that it is perhaps not the best term generally; however, for people who work with the magical electrical whiz-bangs of today, it is not out of line.)

    You want a term that suggests a holding-area where ideas go to wait, but not to die. A kind of waiting-room. Or a holding-pen, as for animals like cattle or sheep or pigs awaiting slaughter (maybe not the best image...). Or a ponding-basin, as for allowing water to purify naturally. (I'm both old and old-fashioned, and I prefer to use hyphens, as in the preceding sentences. Many of you will not. Of course, the NativeGermanspeakers will not be shocked by this fundamentally-Germanic structure. And, to be fair to the other great source of English, I used to teach French, and my user-name is Latin; it means "what I think.") Or, for the theatrical among you, a green room, where performers wait to be called on stage.

    So what to choose? Some have suggested seedlings (or, more properly, seedbeds: the place where seeds are planted so they will grow into mighty whatevers). That is good, but it is broader than what is wanted, as it applies to any idea/note that has yet to flourish and burgeon into a real, grown-up note, whatever that may be. Here, it is not the maturity of the note, though that may be an issue, but rather the occasion to use it that is delayed. Whence the idea of waiting or holding, which terms like seedling and seedbed lack.

    It occurs to me that "idea bank" might be a solution. "Bank" conveys something piled up: think of a river bank, where sediment piles up and contains the flow of the stream; of the bank (like OK, a word that seems to have made into just about every language without changing meaning), where your money piles up (maybe not in your account, but somewhere); or of a fog bank, an accumulation of haze. And, of course, a memory bank, for those who can remember the old days.

    Just ut opinor.

  • edited December 2020

    I did understand right away that "buffer" was being used in the computer sense.

    I think your confusion results from lack of context? The most common way to learn how to use a word is by context, when communicating with other people. Maybe you are used to the use of that word only in a specific context, without really knowing what is going to be buffered and why (i wouldn't, at least, in case of dial-up systems). The purpose of a buffer is not for someone to wait to get a reply, or a bad excuse for something to be slow.

    You want a term that suggests a holding-area where ideas go to wait, but not to die. A kind of waiting-room.

    A buffer is not just a storage system, like a bank, and it is also not meant to make something wait. A buffer is used to prepare your work to be available in a different environment. For example, instead of going down the floor 10x a day to hand out some documents, you let them pile up on your desk and give them all at the end of the day. Or, on a crossroad the cars are piling up on one side, to pass all at once when the right conditions are met (green light). The purpose of the traffic light is to make traffic faster. Ironically in doing so it also makes the driver wait.

    So, i see why buffers have a bad reputation but they are a good thing, not a bad thing! :smile:

    my first Zettel uid: 202008120915

  • The question being addressed was: Why do native speakers of English object to the term "buffer note?" A fairly extensive thread of comments went through various possibilities, and it discussed the problem of using "buffer" as a term. I was not confused, contrary to what you seem to think. But, as a native speaker of English, I do not think it is the best term available in English. It has nothing to do with whether a buffer is a good thing or a bad thing; it is simply a thing. But it is the wrong thing, I believe, to use as a metaphor for the kind of note that was being discussed.

  • I am sorry i didn't follow the entire discussion.

    my first Zettel uid: 202008120915

  • I'm coming very late to this discussion. And very late to this website. :)

    Did a consensus form? I like the concept. I have been calling my same type of note Placeholder Notes. I like Seed Notes as well. I am a native English (American) speaker.

    @NickMilo22 I use Reference Notes and Literature Notes interchangeably. Kinda like Ahrens does pretty much.

    I am a Zettler.

  • How about "incubator" inspired by GTD and seed notes?

  • Incubator ist a cool name. It is even more appropriate for my current personal practice. :)

    I am a Zettler

  • "Proofing oven" ...


  • edited December 2021

    In my case, I refer to a stagnant pool of notes, or just Stagnant Notes, with all the connotations of backup, blockage, disease, wastewater, raw sewage, infestation, slime mold, pollution, a breeding ground for evil, environmental degradation and so forth. But other than that it's neutral.

    Erdős #2. ZK software components. “If you’re thinking without writing, you only think you’re thinking.” -- Leslie Lamport.

Sign In or Register to comment.