How to Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens

The central idea of this book is that a system of note taking can help us incorporate our reading into a process of engaged learning. This involves three levels of note taking:

  1. Inspiration: quick notes on ideas that occur to us in a flash of insight
  2. Reading: reading highlights from books and articles that capture the gist of the content
  3. Permanent: Relating our inspired and reading notes into a body of work that reflects our worldview

The keys are to put our inspired and reading notes into a slip box to help us develop unique insights and to interrelate the permanent work so they remain singular and discete, but at the same time serve as part of a network of relationships that can feed into projects, or specific pieces of writing designed for some purpose.

The thrust of this effort is to develop a note taking process that invites us to build and learn as part of an integrated process. It reminded me a bit of the text based social science and two computer revolutions I mentioned previously. (I’ll put the links in later.)