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.

The idea of posting on your blog and cross-posting to lots of place is the right idea, no argument there, the problem is that the places you can actually cross-post to are few and far-between. The two places mentioned in the article that can peer with most other blogging software are micro.blog and WordPress. Everything else as far as I know, if you want to peer with them in a POSSE-like way, requires you to remove features from your writing, and you have to decide if it’s worth it.

I was listening to a podcast, which is not something I usually do (but more on that later), about meetings and how they are terrible for productivity and how they could be made better.

It was fine. And to be honest I wasn’t extremely interested in the podcast itself. I just wanted something to listen to as I walked my dog and I didn’t have any new music on my listening list, so I figured I’d quickly duck into Apple podcasts and pick something.

However, this podcast helped me realize why I never really got into podcasts. At the end of the episode the host jokingly remarked “And no, this podcast couldn’t have been an email.” and it hit me.

I don’t like listening to podcasts because they almost always would be better off being articles. I don’t think I’ve ever listened to a podcast that made me think “wow, I’m glad I listened to this” I usually end up thinking “I wish I could have just skimmed the transcript and saved some time”. This meeting could have been an email? More like “this podcast could have been an article”.

In fact most of the time I get a tinge of anxiety listening to podcasts and I hear something interesting “When did they say that? Does this show have a transcript I can look at after? Are there links to everything they’re talking about?”. To make matters worse, when I do end up putting on a podcast it’s usually when my hands are preoccupied with something else (walking the dog, driving, washing dishes, etc.) so I’m not taking notes and just hoping I remember to go back and write everything down that interests me.