2010 by the margins

2010 by the margins

Sam Anderson talks out loud, month by month, about what he’s scribbled in the margins:

The writing I enjoy doing most, every year, is marginalia: spontaneous bursts of pure, private response to whatever book happens to be in front of me. It’s the most intimate, complete, and honest form of criticism possible — not the big wide-angle aerial shot you get from an official review essay, but a moment-by-moment record of what a book actually feels like to the actively reading brain.

I have a fantasy. In it, I’m in a used bookstore. This one’s on Craig Sreet in Pittsburgh, and I have endless time. Perhaps I’m on some sort of makeshift sabbatical from things for a bit. And I’m working on The Marginalia Project.

The Marginalia Project is a classification project of marginalia. Not of books, but of what’s running off the pages, stream-of-conscious style, from the people who once had them. What categories do these intimate things fall into, if any? What do they reveal about the people who’ve left them behind? Do they describe? Do they name? Do they review or reveal? Do they summarize and categorize and enumerate? Or do they spatially organize for later retrieval?

Borrowing heavily from a talk I saw danah boyd do back in 2006 where she was referring to flickr tags, looking over Sam’s list, I might create some to start with:

  • description
  • exclamation
  • expletive
  • opinion
  • provocation
  • visual system

And so: