After I had been using Crusoe for a while something cool started to happen. In the midst of working on something, I’d look up one note and Crusoe would serve up three others I had completely forgotten about but which were ultimately more useful than the only note I remembered to look up. This is exactly what Crusoe was designed to do, and it happens all the time.

Evernote uses an indexing algorithm to suggest notes, but I rarely take the time to use that feature because it’s rare that the notes it picks out are what I want to see at the moment. One of them might be useful, but I won’t know if Evernote’s algorithms correctly guessed what I’m looking for without re-reading each note, and I don’t have time for that.

Math and algorithm-wise, Evernote is a much more sophisticated program than Crusoe (not to mention applications like Pandora, which suggest music to users). And yet only Crusoe manages to serve up exactly what I want to see, exactly when I want to see it. It kind of blows my mind when it happens, but it shouldn’t. After all, I told Crusoe to do just that when I created those links in the first place.

Link Louis CK…
For example, this morning I went running and listened to an episode of Terry Gross’s FreshLouis CK Air (NPR). She interviewed comedian Louis CK about his teenage drug use, and the dismal early days of his career. Everything changed for the better, he said, once he was married and had kids. But he still wanted to hold on to his Monday night poker games with the boys (go to 16:45-18:45 on the audio link at the bottom of this post):

But then after a while I realized: Why would I want to go play poker with a bunch of guys in a smoky room when I could be at home with my family? I realized that a lot of the things that my kid was taking away from me, she was freeing me of. There was this huge pride in having a kid and also that I didn’t matter anymore. The greatest thing about having a child is putting yourself second in your own life. It’s a massive gift to be able to say you’re not the most important person to yourself.

When I heard this it reminded me of a Branford Marsalis quote from years back and so I linked the two quotes in Crusoe. So why did I link them?

Crusoe links Louis CK with Branford Marsalis

…to Branford Marsalis…
I linked the notes because Brandford Marsalis said something about music that sounded a lot like what Louis CK said about getting married and having kids.   Non-musicians often listen to jazz and think it’s all about playing what you feel, as opposed to the structured confines of classical music. Branford Marsalis was asked about this, and here is what he said:Branford Marsalis

You don’t play what you feel. There’s only freedom in structure, my man. There’s no freedom in freedom.

Both Louis CK and Branford Marsalis describe the freedom to do what you want, or the freedom to play what you want, as a burden. And that’s why I linked the two notes. No doubt Louis CK wasn’t keen on giving up his freedom of having all his time as his own, and most musicians aren’t initially drawn to jazz out of their love for structure. And yet, whether it’s Louis CK talking about family or Branford Marsalis talking about performance, neither man sees any freedom in being left to his own devices.

…and watch Crusoe do it’s thing.

The moment I linked the Louis CK and Marsalis quotes, Crusoe did its thing. It served up the following bit of historical commentary on freedom taken from Kenneth Minogue’s book, The Servile Mind:

No doubt there is one kind of freedom that everybody does desire–the freedom to do what one wants without interference. But this is merely the slave’s freedom of escape from a master; it is quite distinct from the freedom on which the greatness of European societies has been constructed. Freedom has a moral condition is only possible when combined with responsibility.

Marsalis annotated

Marsalis and Minogue are talking about entirely different subjects, but their conclusions are the same! And the moment I looked at the Minogue quote, Crusoe served up another quote from anthropologist Philip Rieff:philip-rieff

What men lose when they become as free as gods is precisely that sense of being chosen, which encourages them, in their gratitude, to take their subsequent choices seriously. Put in another way, this means: Freedom does not exist without responsibility.

Look at the Louis CK quote again. Aren’t they really saying the same thing? Louis CK discovered that the responsibilities heaped on him after the arrival of his daughters ended up giving him more freedom than he ever had.

Minogue annotated

There is no other application in the world that can serve up notes like this because Crusoe is the only application that saves and retrieves information the way I actually think. And what’s really cool is that the more I use Crusoe, and the more I think about the connections I make between notes, the more attuned I become to understanding why I think something is worth saving in the first place.

(Crusoe served up a few other key quotes I’d love to share, but this blogpost is already running long. But here is one more from anthropologist Philip Rieff that is just too apropos not to show:

I, too, aspire to see clearly, like a rifleman, with one eye shut; I, too, aspire to think without assent. [But] this time men may have gone too far…to specialize…in techniques that are to be called, in the present volume, “therapeutic,” with nothing at stake beyond a manipulatable sense of well-being. This is the unreligion of the age, and its master science.

Okay, enough for now!)