Last weekend during our vacation camping along the Loire, while I was reading and flipping a page on my Kindle it somehow got stuck on the cover page. It seemed to be still on (backlights working), but didn’t respond to anything I did, nor to a reset. As the battery drained sometime after, it looked like the photo shows.

The book I was reading, upon David Weinberger’s advice, was Cheap Complex Devices by John Sundman. I was deep enough into the novella that I can’t somehow shake the notion that the book itself has had an influence on this Kindle flop. Or maybe it was the humidity after a rainy day on the campground, with gallons of….



A new device should be delivered tomorrow.

Amazingly useful plugins keep getting made for Obsidian. Plugins that help reduce friction to getting my material from other sources into flat markdown files that I then can edit, rework and do with as I see fit. Earlier I mentioned the Zotero plugins to extract PDF highlights and Zotero links into Obsidian. Today I started using the Kindle highlights plugin. It connects either to your Amazon account or you feed it your myclippings.txt file from your Kindle device.

It then pulls in your highlights into one note file for each book. You can edit the template for that note, to make sure it includes the information and metadata you want. Each highlight has a link directly to the highlight in your book, and when I click it opens my Kindle app on my Mac and jumps right to it.

Previously I would either download a CSV through the export notes function on a Kindle device which mails you your notes, or copy the myclippings.txt.

Using myclippings.txt is still the only way to get highlights from a book you did not add to a Kindle through Amazon (e.g. a direct upload from my Calibre library).

With one click, upon my first sync I now have about 100 notes with highlights from books I read. I never was a heavy highlighter, because of the friction of getting those highlights to a place where I could use them. That may now change.

Image: a screenshot of how highlights from one of my books now show up as notes in a markdown file, using the default template.

I have now read several non-fiction books on my Nova2 reader. This is a marked improvement from before. I dislike reading non-fiction on my Kindle. Part of it is in the slightly bigger screen of the Nova2, and easier flipping back and forth between parts of a book. Part of it is that it’s a separate device, and not the same screen I read on for relaxation. An important part is also the ease of taking (handwritten) notes while using it.

A very pleasant additional side-effect of this e-reader, compared to the Kindle, is that in the past few weeks I have bought several e-books outside of Amazon. Because the tablet is a generic e-reader, I can now shop around for a much better mix of price, absence of DRM, and local/independent bookshop. This allows me to go outside the silo Amazon wants to lock you into more easily/often.

Two useful things I found out today about my Nova2 e-ink reader/tablet, while trying to figure out how to retrieve and use notes made on it:

  • Any markings / scribbled note I add by hand to a book or pdf, are accessible as a table of content (under the TOC button even). These can be exported to PDF for all notes, or for selected notes.
  • Next to marking things in a text, you can split the reader’s screen to have the text on one side and a notepad on the other (it doesn’t automatically set it to the left hand side when the reader is set to left handed, don’t know yet if I can change that manually). Hand written notes are then connected to the book and like the notes made in the document itself can be exported and accessed as pdf.

It sounds like a good and easy enough experiment, getting your own simple e-book out in the market. My eye fell first on Reinier Ladan’s Dutch language video on making zines (everything old is new again), via Frank’s newsletter. Today Robin Rendle’s post Volume A popped up in my feeds as an experiment to learn how to publish an e-book in a way that just gets something out there. Those two small nudges coalesce into the idea that it should be very doable to collect a few connected blogposts and turn them into a slightly more coherent whole, for publication as a separate artefact. A decade ago I already reworked my closing SHiFT keynote Maker Households into something of an e-book draft at the suggestion and with advice of Henriette, and my Networked Agency or information strategies material would lend itself to it as well. The second nudge was the realisation that the e-book Elmine and I created in 2011(!) on How To Unconference Your Birthday (get the PDF in the sidebar on the right) is already zine like, and has both digital and physical form. An update after a decade makes sense as we already concluded after visiting Peter’s unconference and doing a short video session at Lane’s, and could be part of such an experiment in publishing e-books.

Everything old is new again. I think I should pick up some of the things where I left off decade ago. But this time not as some big scheme, my grand theory of everything all at once, but just as a small thing. As then it might actually happen.

Piers Young posts some of his snippets and highlights from a book he’s reading. I currently struggle reading non-fiction e-books, and one of the thresholds is highlighting stuff on my Kindle. This, because I know that I am sharing that data with Amazon (who even ‘helpfully’ but really awfully can tell me what most others highlighted, as if that is of any help at all in any reading situation), while I never had gotten around to figuring out how to access my highlights in a way I can re-use for research or writing later.

Piers post, showing me how you could turn highlights into a blogpost, bringing it home that way, led me on a search for my own highlights. It turns out that at you can find all your highlights and remarks. Something to play with on how to put it to good use.

Reading Piers leaves me with a question though. What about Russian rainbows? “Russians are raised to see two types of blue and, as a result, see eight-striped rainbows. Colour is a lie.” Can you confirm or debunk, Lilia? I don’t doubt that colour is a lie, at all, but an additional stripe in the rainbow? To my eyes the last three (blue, indigo, and purple) are more or less the same colour already 😀 And how does that compare to the notion that blue is a late addition to language, that people learned to really see blue only recently at all? A late addition that the Russian language has even more nuance in? Intriguing!