Zettelkasten Forum

Thinking in Built Spaces

This discussion was created from comments split from: Call for "Critique my Zettel"-Notes.


  • I'm in! Please give pointers so I can improve.

    I looked through my recent zettel and was curating them for public display. Always a good thing to be spurred on to refactoring, but I realized that I should take advantage of this educational opportunity with a zettel presented the usual way I form my zettel. So I more or less randomly grabbed one with no doctoring for public display. It's 268 words, not including YAML, title, subatomic (summary), and references.

    UUID:      ›[[202203181638]] 
    cdate:     03-18-2022 04:38 PM
    tags:      #mind-science #cognition 
    # Thinking In Built Spaces
    Subatomic: Inventing walls brought us time to relax not having to worry about being watched or the pressure to watch other. This allowed time for reflection that wasn't available before walls were invented. 
    Neuroarchitecture a movement to theorize about how behaviors in built environments might be shaped by our evolutionary history and by the biological facts of our bodies. Built environments shape the way we think and act. [@paul:2021, 172]
    - Attention Drainage Effect [[202203181644]]
       * How spaces are organized and build relates to rather it drains or build attentional power. Those spaces act on a spectrum.
    - B-The Image Of The City [[202106082050]]
    Neuroarchitecture explores the way our brains respond to the built settings. "For example, that high-ceilinged places incline us toward more expansive, abstract thoughts." [@paul:2021, 203]
    Christopher Alexander, author of the classic book A Pattern Language
    > John Locke, professor of linguistics at Lehman College of the City University of New York. "Our distant ancestors could see each other at all times, which kept them safe but also imposed a huge cognitive cost," he notes. "When residential walls were erected, they eliminated the need to look around every few seconds to see what others were doing." The result, he says, was that "a human vigil, one beginning with ancestors that we share with apes, was reduced to manageable proportions, freeing up many hours of undistracted time per day." [@paul:2021, 176]
    - Paul, Annie Murphy. The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021.

    Will Simpson
    My peak cognition is behind me. One day I will read my last book, write my last note, eat my last meal, and kiss my sweetie for the last time.

  • Many thanks @Will!



    • The content is generally underdeveloped. It looks to me like a note was begun and not finished. This is fine if such notes make up the minority of the notes. If this becomes the norm it will be more and more difficult to find connections that click since clicking happens when something fits tightly. Blurry content only allows for blurry connections which in turn will neither generate specific connections (which would be new knowledge) nor the eureka moments that enrich ones life with awe.
    • My suggested central thought is "Walls make solitude a choice".
      • "Inventing walls brought us time to relax not having to worry about being watched or the pressure to watch other." I would reword it since relaxation comes with assumptions. I would instead go in the direction of decreased push information and less social noise as an environmental choice since those concepts do not impose assumptions on the state of mind. (It could perfectly be that walls would decrease relaxation and increase worry by removing the ability to observe what the others are doing)
      • Remove all content about neuroarchitecture since it is not immediately necessary information to understand the central thought. However, a general link to a hub note on neuroarchitecture could provide usability.
      • "'For example, that high-ceilinged places incline us toward more expansive, abstract thoughts.'" [@paul:2021, 203]" Refactor this to another note. Suggestion: Connect both notes on a third structure note which covers all the traits of a room (height, width, window placement, etc.) and their suggested effect on thinking
      • I'd reduce the quote to paraphrase: "John Locke suggested that residential walls eliminated the need to look around. Without walls, our ancestors saw each other all the time which imposed a cognitive load. [@paul:2021, 176]" + own commentary: "This made solitude a everyday choice." ` This could serve as an one (two) sentence summary at the beginning.


    • The resulting title could be "Solitude was made possible by the invention of walls"


    According to my recommendation to object tags, the tags would be:

    • Cognitive-Load
    • Solitude
    • home (why not building or walls? The walls in question are not defensive walls around the city)


    • Connect the Attention Drainage Effect to the drain through constant social interaction (via the concept of distraction)
    • The connection to the Image of the City would be on the note on neuroarchitecture
    • Suggested Connections (~ directions of research):
      • The difference between loneliness and solitude which can be used to improve the hypothesis that walls actually free the mind and not fill it with social anxiety.
      • Social Cognitive Load and how it works (is eye contact the issue? what about absence? Is it taxing also?)
      • A note on the cultural evolution and its relationship on thinking.
    | Year     | invention      | Effect                      | LInk             |
    | -------- | -------------- | --------------------------- | ---------------- |
    | 10000 BC | Dogs           | Cross-Species Communication | [[202204091101]] |
    | 4000 BC  | Walls          | Solitude                    | [[202203181638]] |
    | 3000 BC  | Writing system | Fixation of Throught        | [[202204091059]] |
    |          |                | Priest Class                | [[202204091100]] |
    | 1500 AD  | Bookprinting   | Mass Access                 | [[202204091057]] |


    As always: I am a blunt person who's writing reads way more blunt than intended.

    In my opinion, this is a note with great potential and already near atomic. There are two thoughts present which is presumedly the result of being a work in progress. It is a thinking snap shot. In my opinion, this note should spark some research in the following directions:

    1. Evidence for the nature of social cognitive load.
    2. Neurological differences between solitude and loneliness since the truth of the central thought is dependent on walls generate solitude and not loneliness. Or at least: Increase solitude more than loneliness.
    3. Free Writing about the relevance of the central thought.
    4. Based on the free writing: Force some ideas on how to apply the central thought to make your life better (e.g. remove walls to increase social connection of your home? Go into solitude in situations you are normally in social situations)
    5. Based on the free writing: What are the aesthetics of solitude and loneliness? You could look up some famous ("proven") pictures and try to write summarising aphorisms about them. Then you reconnect to the note if possible. Try to find beauty in both of them. Try to find ugliness in both of them.
    6. If you make the pledge to dive into the thought (performing the suggested tasks 1-5) create a reminder to edit all those notes. Try to cut the fluff or refactor it. The end result should feel tidy to you. Create one last aphorism about the whole thing. Then you force yourself to a dozen variations of the aphorism.

    Comment on my comment: Keep in mind that my feedback on this note is in part guided by my some knowledge (or: assumptions) on your personality and usage of his Zettelkasten. I, for example, put a lot of emphasis on suggestions in which directions to go and baked in quite some specific suggestions that hopefully align with things that are interesting to you. I tried to find the right amount of "pushiness" to move you a little bit out of your comfort zone.

    Many thanks for your note!

    I am a Zettler

  • Thanks, @Sascha. I'm falling back in awe after reading your critique. It penetrates to the core of the issues I can improve on.

    You have provided a lot to work with.

    • The content is generally underdeveloped.
      "Thinking in Built Spaces" is one of 31 notes taken while reading "The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain." by Annie Paul. (Highly recommended.) It took three weeks to process all the notes. This one, particularly, I stumbled with. You are spot one calling me out as under-developing this idea. Something you said reminded me of an article I read. Searching The Archive, I found it. A-The intelligent use of space 201903011645 - David Kirsh. "The Intelligent Use of Space." Artificial Intelligence, vol. 73, no. 1, 1995, pp. 31–68, doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/0004-3702(94)00017-U. This article delves deeper into thinking in space, and as you suggest, it would help clarify the note, the idea, the connections, and, importantly, my understanding.

    • My suggested central thought is "Walls make solitude a choice."

    1. I'm not triggered by the word relax.
    2. Yes, I see now this note should be further refactored, refactoring neuroarchitecture out into a separate zettel
    3. Your suggestion for a structure note based on the traits of a room is spot on. I can think of other notes I have on windows, ceilings, and floors.
    4. I will paraphrase the John Locke quote.
    • Title
      My title sucks. Your suggestion shines.

    • Tags
      I'm still considering the value of tagging generally. I tag for project structure. I've yet to hear a compulsive argument for tagging with a full-text search. Maybe this exposes my mental clumsiness.

    • Links
      I love your suggested directions of research. Thursday, I was introduced to a field of study called "Rhetoric of Silence." It looks super fascinating and relevant to this idea's development.

    • Summary
      I'm so glad I chose this zettel for critique. Your words of advice will improve my abilities in note-making and idea connecting.

    Thinking in terms of aphorisms doesn't come naturally to me. It will take focused practice to develop and kind of mastery.

    I didn't find you to be at all overly pushy.
    Many thanks for your critique.

    Will Simpson
    My peak cognition is behind me. One day I will read my last book, write my last note, eat my last meal, and kiss my sweetie for the last time.

  • @Sascha, here is an update on my progress (2 hours 23 mins) refactoring Thinking in Built Spaces.

    Thanks again for the push. I'm rethinking ideas about tagging. I'm just not sure how I'd use them.

    And new structure note.

    Will Simpson
    My peak cognition is behind me. One day I will read my last book, write my last note, eat my last meal, and kiss my sweetie for the last time.

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