Notes on “Why Take Notes” by Mark Nagelberg

  • Author:: [[Mark Nagelberg]]
  • Source:: link
  • Reading Status:: [[complete]]
  • Review Status:: [[complete]]
  • Anki Tag:: nagelberg_why_take_notes
  • Anki Deck Link:: link
  • Blog Notes URL:: link
  • Tags:: #[[Spaced Repetition Newsletter]] #[[Blog Posts]] #[[PKM]] #[[note-taking]] #[[triple-pass system]] #retrieval #elaboration #[[knowledge management]] #[[articles]]
  • Notes

    • Two pillars of the "Triple-Pass System":
      • Note-taking
      • Spaced repetition
    • Why note-taking is necessary:
      • Preparing for [[Spaced Repetition]]
        • You don’t want to add directly to spaced repetition on first read – you’ll add too much unnecessary information or miss important context.
      • [[retrieval]] and [[elaboration]] practice
        • Reviewing, consolidating, and connecting your notes involves both retrieval and elaboration, which are beneficial for learning.
      • Computer-aided information [[retrieval]] and [[idea generation]]
        • Your notes can store more information and detail.
        • Digital search tools make it easy to look up information in your notes as well as find unexpected connections and insights you wouldn’t get from memory alone.

Why Take Notes?

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

You can access an Anki deck and Roam Research notes on this article here.

My personal knowledge management system (the “Triple-Pass System”) has two key pillars:

  • Note-taking (AKA “second brain”) to store consolidated information on the content that I read
  • Spaced repetition to retain the most important information from my notes forever, at minimal cost

You might wonder: why is note-taking necessary at all when you have the powerful mental prosthetic of spaced repetition? Spaced repetition makes memory a choice. Why put in the extra effort to take notes when you can just add stuff to your spaced repetition system and be done with it forever?

There are a few reasons why note-taking deserves a place in my personal knowledge management system:

  • Preparing for spaced repetition
  • Retrieval and elaboration practice
  • Computer-aided information retrieval and idea generation

Preparing for Spaced Repetition

It’s usually not a good idea to add information directly to your spaced repetition system while you are reading content for the first time. You are much more likely to add unnecessary information or miss the crux because you lack context from reading the whole piece.

Instead, using your notes as an initial place to store information gives you time to let the information “stew” before you add it to spaced repetition. This helps you faithfully follow rule number 1 of formulating knowledge: do not learn if you do not understand.

Taking notes first has the added benefit of flexibility over when you add material to spaced repetition. You can add to spaced repetition right away, or you can do it later when you have more time. In contrast, going straight to spaced repetition requires you to either add material right away or re-read the entire source document later, essentially starting from scratch.

Retrieval and Elaboration Practice

The research literature on efficient learning tells us that retrieval and elaboration (i.e. recalling things you have learned and re-interpreting them) is extremely beneficial.

This is exactly what you do when note-taking:

  • Review the material (which usually requires some recall)
  • Consolidate it into a form that’s easily consumable (elaboration)
  • Make connections with existing knowledge (recall and elaboration)
  • Intersperse ideas and alternate interpretations throughout your notes (elaboration)

Computer-Aided Information Retrieval and Idea Generation

If you think of your brain as a computer, your spaced repetition system is like your RAM: quickly accessible information. This is ideal for knowledge that you will benefit from being able to retrieve quickly.

In contrast, your note-taking system is like a hard drive: it’s slower to access (since you have to open your note-taking app), but it is capable of storing much larger quantities of information. This is great for looking up details that were not practical to commit to spaced-repetition.

Most digital note-taking tools also have sophisticated search functions that allow you to efficiently look up what you need. These features not only help with information retrieval, but also idea generation by helping you make unexpected connections with other knowledge. Roam Research is particularly good in this area, using a graph-based data model that lets you explore connections between your notes.

Notes on “3 Things I Wish I did as a Junior Dev” by Theo Browne

  • {{[video]:}}
  • Author:: [[Theo Browne]]
  • Reading Status:: [[complete]]
  • Review Status:: [[complete]]
  • Tags:: #Video #programming #learning #[[Career]]
  • Blog Notes URL::
  • Roam Notes URL:: link
  • Anki Tag:: theo_browne_3_junior_dev_tips
  • Anki Deck Link:: link
  • Notes

    • Overview: [[Theo Browne]] talks about the 3 main tactics he used when he was a new developer to level up extremely fast.
    • Tip 1: Try to Get On Call
      • Extremely valuable to see how things go wrong, and how they are fixed when they do.
    • Tip 2: You Don’t Learn Codebases in the Code Tab on GitHub. You Learn Codebases on the Pull Request Tab on GitHub. #[[pull requests]] [[GitHub]]
      • It helps you get critical [[context]] to see how code changes, how teams work in a codebase, what features are being developed, and why. This is what helps you build a mental map around the codebase to become a successful contributor.
    • Tip 3: Interview More #[[interviews]]
      • Do more interviews at other companies to see where you stand, but more importantly, do interviews yourself of prospective employees. You learn a lot about how good a developer you are, what expectations are, and what makes a good engineer. The more interviews you do on both sides, the more you understand the field overall.

Notes on “The Year of Fukuyama” by Richard Hanania

  • Title:: The Year of Fukuyama
  • Author:: [[Richard Hanania]]
  • Reading Status:: #complete
  • Review Status:: #[[complete]]
  • Tags:: #articles #[[politics]] #[[democracy]] #[[political science]]
  • URL::
  • Source:: #instapaper
  • Roam Notes URL::
  • Anki Tag:: hanania_year_of_fukuyama
  • Anki Deck Link:: link
  • Notes

    • Many incorrectly misunderstand [[Francis Fukuyama]] as saying nothing will ever happen again. His argument was not that there would be no wars or genocide, but there would be no serious alternative to liberal [[democracy]]. (View Highlight) #[[Ankified]]
    • Before 2022, experts were bullish on some non-democratic states: #[[Ankified]]
      • Experts have spoken seriously about the advantages of the “[[[[China]] Model]]”: technocratic skill and political meritocracy over voting and mobilized citizenry. (View Highlight)
        • Their response to [[COVID-19]] was often trotted out as making the case for the model. E.g. [[New York Times]] reporting that life in [[China]] was back to normal in September 2020, compared to the West. (View Highlight)
      • Experts also were optimistic about [[Russia]]’s economic and geopolitical prospects (believing they will become a mid-tier European power). (View Highlight)
    • In 2022, it seems these threats to liberal democracy have collapsed in different ways, suggesting Western societies are far more robust. (View Highlight) #[[Ankified]]
      • [[China]] is sticking stubbornly with [[Zero Covid]] strategy, and is taking draconian measures to enforce it. This makes absolutely no sense in any [[cost-benefit analysis]], given vaccines and the new contagious variants. You could argue other terrible things they do, such as their treatment of [[Uighurs]], is "rational" and doesn’t prevent them maintaining growth and influence. But Zero Covid is simply stupid, bad strategy. (View Highlight) [[Peter Thiel]] said China is limited by it’s autistic and profoundly uncharismatic nature and [[Richard Hanania]] sees Zero Covid as evidence this is true: "I used to think that China could be the kind of autist that builds SpaceX. Instead, it’s the kind that is afraid to look strangers in the eye and stays up all night playing with his train collection." (View Highlight)
      • [[China]] is now more hostile to free markets which is what helped it succeed in the first place (see disappearing billionaires and overnight destruction of entire industries). It’s bad for government control and gets in the way of serving the state. (View Highlight)
      • [[Russia]] made a major blunder entering [[Ukraine]], which will make it certain to be poor and backwards for years as the West cuts it off. (View Highlight)
        • "It’s easy to mock Ukraine as a “current thing.” But we shouldn’t trivialize the strength of the Western reaction to the Russian invasion. This isn’t like the rise of zhe/zir pronouns or some new DEI initiative. Western leaders, with the support of both public and elite opinion, came together and formed a united front against an instance of international aggression, and helped a nation practically everyone thought would collapse or become a satellite of its neighbor maintain its independence. These societies did all this while having to make massive economic sacrifices, with countries in Europe wondering whether they will even have enough energy to heat their homes in the winter." (View Highlight)
    • As a result, "normie theories of [[democracy]]" seem to be correct (i.e. democracy provides checks and balances, peaceful transfer of power, peaceful correction of mistakes, and gives citizens a voice) (View Highlight) #[[Ankified]]
      • [[China]] failed because it was too [[risk]] averse. [[Russia]] failed because it’s too risk loving. In both cases, they failed because they "involve a governing elite that is willing and able to drag a public towards making massive sacrifices for a fundamentally irrational goal." (View Highlight) In a [[democracy]], flawed ideas like this typically don’t have the power of the state behind them for long.
      • "critics of democracy have to keep bringing up [[Lee Kuan Yew]] because there have been so few like him" (View Highlight)
      • Like [[Tyler Cowen]], always as "are you long or short the market?" People that say democracy is crumbling in the West are never actually short the market: events like [[January 6th]] are in fact evidence of strength, [[wokeness]] is not going to have the impact some say it will. (View Highlight)
      • The world will continue to increasingly look like the West, because there simply is no other viable option. (View Highlight)

Notes on “The First Room-Temperature Superconductor Has Finally Ben Found by”

  • Title:: The First Room-Temperature Superconductor Has Finally Been Found
  • Author:: [[]]
  • Recommended By:: [[Tyler Cowen]]
  • Reading Status:: #complete
  • Review Status:: #complete
  • Tags:: #articles #superconductor #technology #innovation #[[new technology]]
  • URL::
  • Source:: #instapaper
  • Roam Notes URL:: link
  • Anki Tag:: science_news_room_temp_superconductor
  • Anki Deck Link:: link
  • Notes

    • Scientists reported the discovery of the first room-temperature [[superconductor]], after more than a century of waiting. (View Highlight)
    • Superconductors transmit electricity without resistance, allowing current to flow without any energy loss. But all superconductors previously discovered must be cooled to very low temperatures, making them impractical. (View Highlight) #Ankified
    • If a room-temperature [[superconductor]] could be used at atmospheric pressure (the new material only works at very high pressure), it could save vast amounts of [[energy]] lost to resistance in the [[electrical grid]]. And it could improve current technologies, from [[MRI machines]] to [[quantum computers]] to [[magnetically levitated trains]]. Dias envisions that humanity could become a “superconducting society.” (View Highlight)
    • It’s a big advance, but practical applications still a long way off.