Whether you journal, blog, or keep a collection of inspirational images and quotes on Pinterest or Tumblr, you’re continuing the tradition of zibaldoning. A zibaldone was a 14th-century scrapbook that means “a heap of things” in Italian.
“Some media scholars argue that commonplace books and zibaldones were precursors to the Internet, which is similarly scrappy and mixed-up, rich in influences and perfectly willing to zig-zag between genres.”
19th-century Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi was the person to modernize the zibaldone to include musings, drafts of his poems, and observations. Others hodepodgers like Thomas Jefferson copied passages of their favorite novels into his scrapbook for quick reference.
Zibaldones were a way to archive memories, bookmark notes, and make sense of the world. They served as a bank of reflections and a guidepost for a living. Said Leopardi’s on his commonplace notebooks:
“You learn about a hundred pages a day about how to live. But the book (this book) has 15 or 20 million pages.”
Modern-day zibaldones are web-based applications that have become a way to show your work and thinking as it progresses. But if you still prefer analog, “All you need to start your own zibaldone or commonplace is a blank notebook, a pen, an open mind, and maybe a roll of tape.”