As I sit in business and board meetings, I notice that few people take notes.
I wonder if they have better memories than I do, but then, I realize that they have been trained, like most of our society, to let content wash gently over them and pass by un-noted, un-synthesized, un-digested.
One of the most powerful differentiators I’ve found in life, both in academic and professional settings is the skill and habit of taking clear notes.
I came across an interesting piece in the Atlantic recently re: note taking with some important tips and perspective on note taking.
If civilization is based on learning from and building upon the best thinking that’s gone before, then note taking must be one of the keys to building or at least fighting entropy in our civilization.
I do not agree that the best notes are taken on a PC. I may be old school, but I can write/draw/think much more quickly with pen and paper than I can with a computer. If some hand-written notes turn out to benefit from digitization later, I can quickly dictate them into text using my Android phone. Capture and synthesis the most difficult and valuable part of the process, digitization falls far down on my list of priorities.
The last point in the Atlantic article mentions note’s usefulness in court, but I find them useful in any setting where differences in recall or opinion might creep in. The power of the scribe is a well-known and very useful phenomena, essentially, the person who creates the written record (notes, legal agreements, historical interpretations, etc.) have a special power over the written record of the event. Harold Innis has an interesting perspective on the power of the scribe through history and in the refinement or entropy of our current civilization.
I came across a very simple implementation of the ideas from the Atlantic article in the Cornell Note Taking Method.