Stian Håklev (侯爽): I would love more active learning - lot's of video courses for Roam, but people are struggling with figuring out how to write good notes. What would an active learning situation looked like where you got deliberate practice by a coach - peer or expert feedback, scaffolding? - Twitter thread by Stian Håklev (侯爽), link
Imagine having as an assignment: "Summarize this article", "Which evergreen notes would you extract", "How would you connect these ideas". Of course will always be artificial, but would lead to great discussions and leveling up.
This could be very hands-on (feedback from expert), socially distributed (scaffolded peer-feedback), asynchronous (worked examples, first try yourself then see example of good and bad note), and using AI/NLP to give you automated feedback.
Cortex Futura: It‘s gonna be a shared Roam for each cohort and a forum to discuss. Collecting the exercise syllabus right now.
But Shhhhhh 🤫 Gotta work on my papers first
Would love to discuss, have lot's of ideas around this.
Cortex Futura: Give me a week or two to wrap some things up, then I should have some mindspace to tackle this :)
Rob Haisfield: Add me to the discussion as well
Took a bunch of notes while listening to a podcast with Andy Matuschak and Erik Torenberg recently https://t.co/TDH6Lt8wya
Hi, . Have you done any thinking about explicit (or implicit) teaching of note taking strategies or knowledge work? See my notes in the thread ^^
I Am Jean Valjean 🆘: I have a side project related to exactly this, tagging this post to be able to. Thanks.
Mark Robertson: Would be very interested in participating. I also have a lot of ideas - but the most fundamental is each session of note taking should be understood as simple one-pass for a particular context/project. The assumption being is that you always take notes for a purpose.
Mark Robertson: I will be writing these ideas up in more detail soon, including my general knowledge base entry workflow. Hope to collaborate and build on each other’s workflows.
I Am Jean Valjean 🆘: Mark, I'd love to be tagged in to whatever you write, whenever you're ready to write it, thanks.
Mark Robertson: 👍
Mark Robertson: At minimum it’s definitely going to the
Andy Matuschak: Yes. But I concluded that the underlying ideas are too nascent, and that I want to develop them much more before spending time spreading them.
May run workshops/classes in the meantime, but the point will be to help me understand, not to teach.
Andy Matuschak: To put it another way: I’ll want to work on spreading a given computer-supported thinking idea once I feel it's clearly enabled important work on the margin. Before then, feels too navel-gaze-y / “lifehacker”-y. Better to focus on honing and testing the ideas themselves.
Cortex Futura: On the one hand I agree - you want teachers teaching from the right context. But on the other hand, this feels very close to the sentiment of „those who can‘t do, teach“. Do I need to take math lessons from a Nobel Prize Winner for the lesson to be legit?
Andy Matuschak: My concern is similar but slightly different. Not just: "I don't understand these ideas enough" but "no one understands these ideas enough" (to enable transformative impact)—i.e. there is no "Nobel-level" teacher, only high school math teachers (and people fooling themselves).
Mark Robertson: And to add: shouldn’t we also accept that note-taking is so personal and contextual past the professional/disciplinary context that it is not about “note-taking” but external thinking - and therefore infinitely variable?
Mark Robertson: I don’t teach my students how to take-notes, I am to instruct/demonstrate thinking and sense-making.
Majd Taby: Unrelated, but I’ve always been curious about these note taking system screenshots people share with massive walls of text. With so little curation or editing, isn’t it overwhelming to consume yourself later, let alone share with others?...
Majd Taby: ...or is the purpose to externalize your thoughts, and then have a more coherent, linear mental narrative you can process/share later? In that case, what ongoing value to previous notes do these systems offer?
This isn’t an edited essay—the ideas aren’t developed enough—but feel free to browse.
Majd Taby: I'll spend some time reading it. My comments came from an uncontextualized perspective given that I find it difficult to focus on reading long articles using a digital screen, and my subconscious bias against long articles being meandering and unfocused/unedited.
Andy Matuschak: I certainly agree with both those points!
I write short, focused notes (typically < 200 words)—that’s part of the practice—but navigating will feel meandering. They’re not written to be easy for you to read; they’re what you get before I’ve written an essay, rather than nothing!
ryan (context: everything written is 'imo'): How I think of them. Luckily, has post about it.
Digital Gardens [that become evergreen notes]
The kicker is: your digital garden has to be your own.
Majd Taby: I'll often print things, but I'll admit I haven't done that with your experiments, so maybe I should just disengage until I do
🔥 Josh Branchaud 🕺🏼: These are fun to read, thanks for sharing. I was getting some serious Sönke Ahrens vibes from the Evergreen Notes and then I realized that was one of the references 😄
Andy Matuschak: Can’t speak for others’ practices, but in my practice, this type of sharable note is quite curated and edited. The title is a carefully-chosen “API,” which I use to find it in other contexts.
They’re not written to be shared with others, but sometimes I do anyway.
Can Sar: I actually went to Twitter to make a point related to that last sentence. How do you feel about importing an individual note from someone else into one's one collection, even if just as a starting point?
Can Sar: E.g. I read "Brainstorming may often substitute for missing insight accretion systems" today & it made a whole bunch of things click for me. I imported it & wrote several notes linking to it. This is frowned upon in ZK circles (bc of "Understanding requires effortful engagement")
Can Sar: I'm finding that if the note is relevant and well structured it can be really powerful. I think that as long as one follows a few guidelines this can be useful: Choosing material that one agrees with and that makes sense, not overdoing it (both to avoid the collector's fallacy),
Can Sar: and then not being afraid to actively modify it in the future to more deeply integrate it. I almost think of some of these as lemmas that one can use to build one's own thoughts on top of. Anyway, not something I'm suggesting to others but something that I've found useful.
Andy Matuschak: A key reason I can't use others' notes verbatim is that they usually lack several properties of evergreen notes: they aren't concept-factored, or they lack a clear API-ish title, or whatever. I might feel differently if others published their evergreen notes.
Joel Chan, #slowthespread, support your neighbors!: I used to think importing is what we want, but now I'm not so sure, esp. after my super-fun "zettelconversation" with - I think maybe we want something like version control where you "fork" someone else's evergreen note so you ensure you hear yourself think :)
Ben Reinhardt: My mental model is that a truly useful note needs to be embedded in your personal context which is like digestion.
Someone can partially digest an idea for you but at the end of the day you need to do your own digesting.
A good teacher or well-written note is like a mama bird.
Can Sar: Agree with both! Some notes need more initial digesting than others - depends on note & personal context. I like the idea of initially "forking" a note but it shouldn't be an obstacle to completely transforming it over time. Having a special reference type is a great idea.
ryan (context: everything written is 'imo'): "What I learnt on my own, I still remember"
Aengus McMillin: It's a tempting trap to fall into. It's so much easier to spend a bit of time ideating about how this all should work and getting a bunch of likes by hopping on the productivity train than it is to spend months building up a library of ideas and using it to ship something great
Wasim Lorgat: What do you mean by “on the margin”? I’ve seen you use this before and I don’t get it 🙈
Thanks for responding. I think lower-hanging fruit would be teaching people about writing good SRS cards - I've gotten a lot of inspiration from your tweets, and I feel like here you might have some decent understanding (even though still nascent).
Andy Matuschak: Yes, I’m likely to spend a fair amount of time on that in the next year or so, beginning with authors. It’s both in my critical path, and, happily, somewhat better understood. Will likely begin with workshops for mnemonic medium authors.
Joshua Mitchell: > workshops for mnemonic medium authors
Ooh, color me interested.
Conor White-Sullivan: Would seriously love to be in first class or workshop
Joel Chan, #slowthespread, support your neighbors!: TONS of potential value here! Trial-running sth like this for my doctoral seminar rn, but it's not as granular as I'd like. Biggest issue deliberate practice-ing this is lag+uncertainty in feedback. "Good" notes are task/context/person-dependent, and hard to eval in the moment.
Yeah one of my big questions is if we can identify specific practices or characteristics that are generally useful and productive, and not trivial - ie. can be taught/evaluated. Because there are obvious ideosyncracies etc. And also some things only emerge over a long time.
Joel Chan, #slowthespread, support your neighbors!: Ya it's also not clear to me how much of the practices are situated wrt specific expertise/knowledge/ability levels, and therefore can't be "taught" to novices. Ex: in starcraft, progamer strats often aren't useful to novices bc they lack the knowledge/skill to pull it off.