I Wish Bear Hadn’t Wasted Years

I’ve never used the markdown app Bear. But because I can be so productivity and app obsessed (working on it) I ended up reading this post about it.  

(As a side note: I’ve never really been interested in it either.  It looks like a great app, but I’m not paying a subscription just to sync markdown files over iCloud!)

I’m thankful I did read this post though because I ended up reading this piece of wisdom.

Writing things down is often more important than the act of storing them. I want to preserve my journal or lists of good places to visit in certain cities, but most of the other stuff, personal and work-related, is quite ephemeral. It’s almost like the message history with your friends. You think you want to preserve it, but if you actually scroll to the beginning of your friendship all those years ago, you’ll cringe a little.

I’ve switched between note taking apps more times than I’ve liked to admit, for various reasons, but one of the things that I always struggle with is how to store my notes long term. 

I always imagine this scenario where I want to be able to review all my notes.  But I’m not sure why I’m so worried about this scenario because I never review notes that I take.  

The reason I never review my notes is that once they’re written, they are no longer valuable to me. Writing is thinking, reviewing is not.  Rehashing thoughts I’ve already thought does not challenge me to think through and internalize information in the same way that writing does.

I think this feeling is related to what Chris Aldrich was describing in his latest musings on Zettelkasten for Coursework.

When you take a math class you might learn what 2+2 is and make a note about it, but by the time the course is over, that idea should now be so basic that keeping it in your system should be a bit laughable. Spending time to excerpt it from a lecture, make it atomic, and interlink it is a lot of make-work that isn’t likely to be useful either for the learning the thing to begin with, much less remember it in the long run to potentially use it again.

I take notes of things I want to internalize and recall as easily as “2+2”.  By writing notes, these things end up being easily recallable, and once they are I see my notes as somewhat useless and feel no need to review them.

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