I started using acaWiki since it seemed to work well for Mako, but haven't made it into a habit yet. I briefly tried adapting the "outlining books faster" technique by David Seah in a text editor -- each line number corresponds with its page (so for instance, to make a note of something that happened on page 35, you write on line 35). It's a bit klunky, but workable for books; it fails for things with higher information density (most journal articles) or no page count (almost anything online).
The physical-mapping concept is great, though; as a highly visual/spatial person, I frequently remember things by where they are, my fingers swooping through a house into a room towards a shelf which holds a book, insert thumb about 2cm past the front cover and flip through until a sentence appears in the bottom-right... my library is my prodigious memory, and having no space for books feels like cramping my mind, giving books away feels like excising parts of my brain, and I've learned how to adjust that to a nomad lifestyle - how to quickly load libraries like extra modules into my own mind, how to scatter borrowed books across sofas and desks and floors while I'm writing, working memory sprawled out across my limited living space, temporary memory arrangements in hotel rooms, backpacks, luggages. Not everything can live inside my computer or my brain.
All this suggests that the memory palace technique should be incredible for me, but I struggle to make it work; the places I've lived have been so small, with so few possessions, for so short a time, that I don't feel like I've got a particular loci to hang onto. I'm also too good at creating vivid mental images in rapid succession, and they wash each other out; I step into a room on a mental walk and drench a chair with the mnemonic equivalent of neon paint, but then I do it with another color, then another, until it's a muddy mess on the floor and impossible to tell what was the original thing I was trying to remember. Maybe I can try multiple borrowed palaces instead of a single canonical one; temporary walks, smaller spaces, less detail but more choice, associate each walk with a different concept. Put the history of engineering across my old apartment in Raleigh, lay statistics concepts across the floor of Glenview's library, take key education theories and thread them across Olin's academic center, weave a FOSS timeline between the hallways of IMSA.
On Wednesday I found out that my research group didn't have a website. On Thursday night, I put up http://xroadsresearch.org. By Friday, everyone had gotten bios in -- just in time for FIE. Junaid, Hadi, Tiago, Joi -- y'all rock.
Academic role models have been blossoming into my life. Some recent moments include visiting Brent Jesiek's research group and Cordelia Brown's digital design class, plunging into Monica Cardella and Alice Pawley's dissertations (thank you, Brent and Alice, for letting me turn in a comic book for my first paper!) and Ruth Streveler's repeated reassurances that I'm not "doing something wrong" but rather following (good!) gut instincts into unexplored territory. I think... perhaps I may be finding bravery again, and need to push myself to write about the work I'm doing, what it looks like in the open-source-and-education chaos, despite the voice in my head that keeps running am I crazy am I crazy nothing else in the world looks like this and repeated fumblings to figure out how this applies, why it matters. I alternate between oh man we're gonna change the world! and I am completely losing it but it's important to chronicle that too, right? Fail faster in public and you'll learn faster.
I'm also having an extended wait, you can do that? moment courtesy of Shannon McMullen and Fabian Winkler, cross-disciplinary (art/tech/sociology/design) academics who run both a household with a little kid and a crazy new electronic-and-time-based-art department at Purdue together; I'm always, always nervous that I'm not supposed to merge and meld all these things I love, that different disciplines should be compartmentalized, that work and personal life should have absolute black-and-white boundary lines, that... I dunno. The things that feel right and lead me down the path of happiness and flourishing are not... normal, according to the world I see when I open my eyes and look around, so any time I see other people doing those sorts of things I'm both inspired and gratified. Someday, I should work up the guts to write Rebecca Brent and Richard Felder, who blew my mind when they visited Olin my sophomore or junior year. (Yes, I've been too intimidated to reach out and make contact for 6-7 years now and I know I should... help?) I should work up the guts to write a lot of people; I'm still so shy around people I admire.
But in a belated happy Ada Lovelace Day tribute, I'm grateful for the folks who've shown me through example that technology (and math, science, engineering, etc) is created not by long-dead figures but by funny, fascinating, vibrant people in communities I can be part of, that it's okay to blend left and right brain interests; that women can and do kick ass at this, that they can teach and do, that they can be stellar in their field and have rich, wonderful relationships and lives and friends families that support (and even collaborate on) their work instead of being a dichotomy to choose between -- either be good in your field or be a person -- and friends and colleagues who've shown me that they feel excited (rather than betrayed or ostracizing, as I feared) when I enrich my life along any dimension.
These generalizations are too vague; a move towards more realtime telling of concrete stories would be useful. Let me just leave that as an open statement here -- options, not obligations -- and see where the next rounds of writing take me.