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How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking – for Students, Academics and Nonfiction Book Writers Kindle Edition
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About the Author
- ASIN : B06WVYW33Y
- Publication date : February 21, 2017
- Language : English
- File size : 1336 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 178 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 1542866502
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #8,845 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The author draws on a variety of research dealing with attention, learning, cognition, etc. to make an argument for the "slip box" note-taking system (or "Zettelkasten" as made famous by prolific sociologist Niklas Luhmann). I tend to think of these types of books as "self-help" for academics, but in the best way. Reading this book opened my eyes to the habits and practices that will best help me reflect and digest the reading I do, and productively summarize and apply it to my research and writing. This process has already helped me to read more effectively, by focusing on what in the given text is relevant to what I already know or am puzzling about. I'm deeply convinced by this iterative and generative process of knowledge-production.
If you're an academic or other knowledge worker who struggles with how to usefully organize and engage with the massive amounts of information that we all accumulate, this is the book for you. If you feel that the notes you take on things often get lost (in your organizing system) or become incomprehensible after time has passed, this book is for you. If you are interested in methods and practices for streamlining and optimizing your knowledge work (GTD-followers, I'm looking at you), buy this book! ;)
The main ideas are simple but profound. A few were especially helpful. 1) Work bottom-up, amassing notes on what interests you, rather than top-down, trying to fit into a preconceived plan. When it comes time to write, you will have a large storehouse from which to draw. 2) Separate notes on reading/study from one's own thoughts. Just that one idea is already making a huge difference in my productivity and enjoyment of writing. 3) Create opportunities to be surprised later, by linking your ideas together as much as possible, via tags, categories, or whatever your program of choice calls them. When the size of your note stash reaches critical mass, you begin to find new or forgotten relationships between ideas. The author brings in plenty of other useful points, drawn from various disciplines.
I noticed some very ungenerous reviewers gave it one star, because they wanted examples. A silly demand, really, since the method is essentially non-linear, so any step-by-step example would have necessarily had to be trivial. You could also say that the book itself is a fine example of the method in action.
Unlike so many tomes on writing, this book is well-written. I didn't see a translator credit, and if there wasn't one, then even more props to the author and editor. The physical book, published via Create Space, is quite aesthetically pleasing.
Top reviews from other countries
For me it has helped me take the necessary steps to build a genuinely productive workflow and it has also led me to make significant changes to how I teach as well.
I think this book will be particularly accessibly to anyone who reads qualitative research and the text is relatively dense compared to your average self help book. It is a serious chunk of work, and Ahrens' pedigree as an academic is apparent. It's not as impenetrable as many papers in the social sciences (!) but it's still a long way from the fluff that generally adorns the Amazon self help list. (And I read and like plenty of that too.) Some reviewers may take exception to references but I'm in favour of them - actually, I can't think of anything worse that pages of opinion with the lightest of efforts to refer to a single study before the author makes some sweeping statement. I like to be able to check for myself and it also offers the opportunity for you to branch into areas for your own exploration.
If you are toying with the idea of building your own Zettelkasten this is the book - and check out zettelkasten.de as well as the author's website for resources.
Potentially life-changing, certainly life-enhancing, but you'll have to work for it too. You can't blast through it in an hour. And, for something that could have so much impact you didn't really expect that did you? Looking at reviews, it seems some people do. I bought it on Kindle but I'm buying the paperback too so I can re-visit and devote time to it as I add the elements I want to my own Zettelkasten.
There's also far too much emphasis on his preferred digital software with no discussion of the details of its working or its advantages and disadvantages against other methods. Many other programs would function perfectly well to do this. It's worth researching the methods people actually us before making an initial choice. (I say initial because it seems that it's very common to switch systems.)
Get some index cards, put them in a box. That's about as practicle as it gets I am afraid.