Tag Archive | The CommonBook

On Randomness and the CommonBook

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the most important feature of the CommonBook [<link]?”


“I view the commonplace book as a tool, so essentially practical. I’m collecting all this knowledge to use it. The commonplace book as a system achieves its purpose only in so far as and to the extent it allows you to use the knowledge stored within.”

“What kind of tool is it?”

A creativity tool.

As a Thinker and Writer, my Art revolves around playing with ideas. What this means, in essence, is making connections between ideas.

The problem is, the more information you have the less manageable it becomes. In my own commonplace book, in almost two years now I’ve amassed well over five thousand notes – my own ideas, and the ideas of others. At this rate, imagine how many notes I’ll have in ten years’ time.

How do you make very large amounts of information usable?

Many years ago, I used to collect [<link; short read] (digital) pictures. After amassing a huge collection, I realized I was only looking at a very small fraction of them. They were simply too many. That’s when the idea of randomness germinated in mind, and I’ve been playing with it since.

Since then, randomness has become one of my favorite design and creativity tools.

Randomness can be used to practice creativity by allowing you to make connections between ideas which you wouldn’t have otherwise. This can lead to some beautiful insights. I call this creative randomness.”