The AtWork Notebook

Roberto Casati

The project aims at exploring the knowledge capabilities (affective, personal, and social knowledge) of the notebook, as used in the context of a specific creative activity, the AtWork workshops curated by Simon Njami in various locations mainly in sub-saharian Africa, and supported by the Moleskine Foundation. We want to explore the role of the notebook as a catalyst for creativity and as a structuring element for social cognition and the creation of collective intelligence.

We are in particular interested in the following research questions that define the notebooks’ cognitive, affective and social advantages:

– Low tech and knowledge: how can a low-tech instrument be still irreplaceable in certain practices? What practices make it indispensable?

– How does the use of the notebook modulate attention, memory organization and planning?

– How is social knowledge created by the public use of the notebook?

– Multimodality of the writing experience: the notebook as a space for writing, drawing, tactile and auditory representation and experience

– What are the differences between the notebook as an instrument for production vs the notebook as a media for consumption?

The important edge of the project is a collaboration with the Moleskine Foundation and their initiative AtWork curated by Simon Njami. An internship partly hosted by the foundation, and the participation to one of the AtWork workshops, will allow (1) a participative observation of notebook-centered practices. The notebook (a volan format) is an integral part of the AtWork workshop, its production being the deliverable for each participant; the full collection of produced notebooks has been digitized by the Foundation and is publicly available. The collection will then (2) allow to run a corpus-based part of the study. Finally, (3), interview with the curator and various actors of the process will provide insight into the structuring role of the notebook.


The main deliverables of the project will be

– objects, events and video materials as produced during an AtWork session and exhibited in a dedicated space in Paris/Milan,

– a documentation book

– a one-day workshop in Paris/Milan for presenting the results of the study

– an article in the Folios collection of the Moleskine foundation.






previous next