The Tyranny of the Note Taking Industrial Complex
There’s been a lot of critique going on lately about notes. My friend Rick and I talked about it a few months ago, and I’d been copying and pasting the links down in an Airtable record (Haha — not kidding though). I’ve written 1,000+ notecards at this point, at least 200 of which made it into this book and another 200 will make it into a future one, and I’ve really enjoyed the process. I want to summarize and respond the old web 2.0 way, at this blog (although you’ll probably read the thread on Twitter):
The Note-Taking Bullshit Industrial Complex
Okay firstly, this is something that’s been bugging me, which Max Nussenbaum summarizes well, “An entire digital ecosystem has sprung up of productivity gurus who claim that taking notes on what you read and organizing your ideas the way they do is the secret to supercharging your creative output.” A beautiful summary.
I recently saw the merchant of one of these courses — who shall remain nameless out of courtesy, because I don’t actually have a problem with them, and to keep this piece smoke-free — take a photo announcing that he’d started taking paper notes.
This same merchant had constantly announced how successful their course had sold (I missed the memo on how well their students were using it).
This is the absurdity of the internet now. It really wasn’t about note-taking; it was about the marketing, the positioning, and the beautifully-crafted promise — of speed, effortlessness, and all your problems solved with this one simple course. Note-taking just happens to be the topic feasible enough to get someone to believe, “Hey, this might actually work!”
Spoiler alert: The course doesn’t live up to the promise. I’ve bought one of these about hiring virtual assistants, I didn’t get much out of it, and I happily got my money back. For that specific course, I’d considered it because it was on a shiny new platform and I wasn’t feeling great about my very analog process, but I found the price to be exorbitant and I didn’t think I was missing out on much.
I’m glad to know that it wasn’t just me, and that I wasn’t wrong.