- Feb 2022
Purple Numbers are a clever hack because you can work them into many existing kinds of systems. You don’t have to reinvent the document format, or cut it up into many pieces. You just stick a few ID tags in useful places. It’s like dog-earing the page of a book to find your way back.
As permanently identified paragraph level locations, purple numbers might allow one to combinatorically rearrange sets of notes or facts in a variety of different ways.
This pattern might be seen in earlier instantiations of note taking tools like the German zettelkasten.
Documents might be generated by creating playlists of purple numbers in particular (useful) orders.
Local file Local file
he best-researched and mostsuccessful learning method is elaboration. It is very similar to whatwe do when we take smart notes and combine them with others,which is the opposite of mere re-viewing (Stein et al. 1984)Elaboration means nothing other than really thinking about themeaning of what we read, how it could inform different questions andtopics and how it could be combined with other knowledge
Elaboration is thinking deeply about the meaning of what we've read, how it could inform or answer different questions, and how it can be linked or combined with other knowledge. It is one of the best-researched and most successful learning methods. While it seems to have some subtle differences, it sounds broadly similar to the Feynman technique and is related to the idea of writing questions based on one's notes in the Cornell note taking method.
This is why choosing an external system that forces us todeliberate practice and confronts us as much as possible with ourlack of understanding or not-yet-learned information is such a smartmove.
Choosing an external system for knowledge keeping and production forces the learner into a deliberate practice and confronts them with their lack of understanding. This is a large part of the underlying value not only of the zettelkasten, but of the use of a commonplace book which Benjamin Franklin was getting at when recommending that one "read with a pen in your hand". The external system also creates a modality shift from reading to writing by way of thinking which further underlines the value.
What other building blocks are present in addition to: - modality shift - deliberate practice - confrontation of lack of understanding
Are there other systems that do all of these as well as others simultaneously?
link to Franklin quote
Reading with a pen in yourhand is the small-scale equivalent of a lecture.
Active reading with a pen in your hand and the creation of smart notes is a small-scale equivalent of a full introductory lecture from the perspective of Richard Feynman's technique for testing understanding.
Active reading is roughly equivalent to the idea of reading with a pen in your hand or showing evidence of a mind at play.
Taking smart notes is the deliberate practice ofthese skills. Mere reading, underlining sentences and hoping toremember the content is not.
Some of the lighter and more passive (and common) forms of reading, highlighting, underlining sentences and hoping to understand or even remember the content and contexts is far less valuable than active reading, progressive summarization, comparing and contrasting, and extracting smart or permanent notes from one's texts.
Permanent notes, on the other hand, are written in a way that canstill be understood even when you have forgotten the context theyare taken from.
Integrate this into the definition of permanent notes.
Fleeting notes are context collapse (context apocalypse?) just waiting to happen.
Just collecting unprocessedfleeting notes inevitably leads to chaos.
Collecting fleeting notes and not processing them into something more useful and permanent will eventually end in abject failure.
An example can be seen in the note taking of Joachim Jungius in 1657. He compiled approximately 150,000 slips (also known as scraps) with excerpts and ideas without any sort of order, arrangement, index or reference system. Following his death his students and heirs could make nothing of the massive "scrap heap". As a result, Vincent Placcius in De Arte Excerpendi (1689) specifically warns against this practice (p. 72).
(cross reference from : https://hypothes.is/a/SyenKlO2Eeys0esqwOgjUw)
Academic writing in itself is not a complicated process thatrequires a variety of complicated tools, but is in constant danger ofbeing clogged with unnecessary distractions. Unfortunately, moststudents collect and embrace over time a variety of learning andnote-taking techniques, each promising to make something easier,but combined have the opposite effect.
Not highlighted in this context but it bears thinking about, Ahrens is looking at writing in particular while many note taking techniques (Cornell notes, SQ3R, SQ4R, etc.) and methods geared at students are specific to capturing basic facts which may need to be learned, by which I mean memorized or at least highly familiar, so that they can later be used in future analysis.
Many of these note taking concepts are geared toward basic factual acquisition, repetition, and memorization and not future generative thought or writing applications.
It's important to separate these ideas so that one can focus on one or the other. Perhaps there are contexts within which both may be valuable, but typically they're not. Within the zettelkasten context the difference between the two may be subtly seen in the conception of "literature notes" and "permanent notes".
Literature notes are progressive summarizations which one may use to strengthen and aid in understanding and later recall. These may include basic facts which one might wish to create question/answer pairs for use in spaced repetition programs.
Permanent notes have a higher level of importance, particularly for generative writing. These are the primary substance one wants to work with while the literature notes may be the "packing peanuts" or filler that can be used to provide background context to support one's more permanent notes.
Compare this with: https://boffosocko.com/2021/12/22/different-types-of-notes-and-use-cases/
Make literature notes.
Related to literature notes, but a small level down are the sorts of basic highlights that one makes in their books/reading. For pedagogy's sake they're a sort of fleeting note that might be better rewritten in a progressive summarization form. Too often they're not, but sit there on the page in a limbo between the lowest form of fleeting note and a literature note.
Hierarchy of annotations and notes: - fleeting notes - highlights - marginalia marks: ?, !, ⁕, †, ‡, ⁂, ⊙, doodles, phatic marks, tags, categories, topic headings, etc., - very brief annotations - literature notes (progressive summaries) - permanent notes
Make permanent notes.
The important part of permanent notes are generating your own ideas and connecting (linking them densely) into your note system. The linking part is important and can be the part that most using digital systems forget to do. In paper zettelkasten, one was forced to create the first link by placing the note into the system for the first time. This can specifically be seen in Niklas Luhmann's example where a note became a new area of its own or, far more likely, it was linked to prior ideas.
By linking the idea to others within the system, it becomes more likely that the idea can have additional multiple contexts where it might be used and improve the fact that context shifts will prove more insight in the future.
Additional links to subject headings, tags, categories, or other forms of taxonomy will also help to make sure the note isn't lost completely into the system. Links to the bibliographical references within the system are helpful as well, especially for later citation. Keep in mind that these categories and reference links aren't nearly as valuable as the other primary idea links.
One can surely collect ideas and facts into their system, but these aren't as important or as interesting as one's own ideas and the things that are sparked and generated by them.
Asking questions in permanent notes can be valuable as they can become the context for new research, projects, and writing. Open questions can be incredibly valuable for one's thinking and explorations.
- topical headings
- ars notaria
- commonplace books
- multiple contexts
- spaced repetition
- open questions
- note taking misconceptions
- Vincentius Placcius
- note taking methods
- Feynman Technique
- context collapse
- modality shifts
- deliberate practice
- fleeting notes
- context shifts
- literature notes
- Joachim Jungius
- excerpting vs. progressive summarization
- learning methods
- permanent notes
- idea links
- Benjamin Franklin
- scrap heap
- atomic ideas
- Cornell notes
- note taking
- active reading
- progressive summarization
- tools for thought
- external structures for thought
- collector's fallacy
- Dec 2020
Notions, Notes, Ideas and work notes
My equivalent, as best as I can tell, is:
- Permanent notes (atomic, linked concepts) = Notions
- Temporary notes (half-formed thoughts, links, snippets, etc.) = Notes
- Temporary notes initially, which later become permanent notes = Ideas (see later comment about why)
- Admin notes (projects, tasks, meetings, etc.) = Work notes
- May 2020
You should construct evergreen (permanent) notes based on concepts, not related to a source (e.g. a book) or an author.
Your mental models are compression functions. You make them more powerful by trying to use them on new information. Are you able to compress the new information with an already acquired function? Yes, then you've discovered an analogous concept across two different sources. Sort of? Then maybe there's an important difference, or maybe it's a clue that your compression function needs updating. And finally, no? Then perhaps this is an indication that you need to construct a new mental model – a new compression function.
Instead of having a task like “write an outline of the first chapter,” you have a task like “find notes which seem relevant.” Each step feels doable. This is an executable strategy (see Executable strategy).
Whereas Dr. Sönke Ahrens in How to Make Smart Notes seemed to be saying that the writing of a permanent note (~evergreen note) is a unit of knowledge work with predictable effort & time investment (as well as searching for relevant notes), Andy emphasizes only the note searching activity in this context.