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Author Topic: A warning from History  (Read 2330 times)

JennyB

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A warning from History
« on: June 04, 2010, 09:54:51 AM »
From a delightful article on how historians organised their notes in the pre-electronic era:
Quote
It is possible to take too many notes; the task of sorting, filing and assimilating them can take for ever, so that nothing gets written. The awful warning is Lord Acton, whose enormous learning never resulted in the great work the world expected of him. An unforgettable description of Acton’s Shropshire study after his death in 1902 was given by Sir Charles Oman. There were shelves and shelves of books, many of them with pencilled notes in the margin. ‘There were pigeonholed desks and cabinets with literally thousands of compartments into each of which were sorted little white slips with references to some particular topic, so drawn up (so far as I could see) that no one but the compiler could easily make out the drift.’ And there were piles of unopened parcels of books, which kept arriving, even after his death. ‘For years apparently he had been endeavouring to keep up with everything that had been written, and to work their results into his vast thesis.’ ‘I never saw a sight,’ Oman writes, ‘that more impressed on me the vanity of human life and learning.’

Sounds familiar!  :-[
If you don't see how it can fail -
you haven't understood it properly.

Paul Keith

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Re: A warning from History
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2010, 06:57:37 PM »
Thanks! Just the article I was searching for all my life.  :up:

momonan

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Re: A warning from History
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2010, 06:13:25 AM »
Reminds me of some conversations I have had while writing a book. A friend comes to me, all excited, with an idea for another book for me to write. I point to my file drawers and computer to explain that they are filled with ideas for books or articles to write.  Ideas are not what I need.  They are a dime a dozen and come fast and furious.  It's the implementation that's the problem; not the ideas.
When you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning - Catherine Aird

Paul Keith

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Re: A warning from History
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2010, 07:09:40 AM »
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It's the implementation that's the problem; not the ideas.

Could you elaborate?

Stoic Joker

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Re: A warning from History
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2010, 08:04:09 AM »
I'll guess,
  Thinking of something that could be done vs. Going forward and getting it done.

Paul Keith

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Re: A warning from History
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2010, 08:37:59 AM »
How does that relate to book writing though?

app103

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Re: A warning from History
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2010, 11:10:05 AM »
Quote
It's the implementation that's the problem; not the ideas.

Could you elaborate?

I think what she means is that someone still has to do the work (and that's a lot of work).