the scapegoat dev

How I Currently Take Notes

In the last few months, I revived old note-taking techniques and discovered new ones. Note-taking is a spicy topic; methodologies abound: some swear by the digital, others by the analog; some by the index card, others by the outline; some by the folder, others by the tag. I take the maximalist approach and give each option a heartfelt spin.

I write in my books with fountain pens. The next reader will most certainly balk at my erudite commentary – they can buy their own copy. A book is made to be read and loved and studied; its spine needs to be cracked so it can lie open on the table, its flat margins ready to be written on. It is my way to communicate with the author.

I am experimenting with writing on little index cards because margins are often too small. It is really fun, and I was able to find the perfect index cards for the fountain pens I use. The downside is that it is hard to bring them back into the digital world; and by hard I mostly mean tedious. I love arranging them side by side in different combinations. I am not really into committing to full Zettelkasten fetishism.

I use big ring-bound Muji sketchbooks in which I draw and write and do calculations and never erase anything. Watercolors are a wonderful way to add life to any page; they are to highlighters what a violin is to a jackhammer. I stopped entirely for the past 5 years, due to burn out, but I am looking forward to having spreads like these again.

Sketchbook spread

Finally, I write insatiably into my Obsidian vault. Adding to its meandering structure; watching it grow day by day; being able to push it into the ether with a click of the publish button – it is the most exhilarating experience I've had in a long time. I start with a daily note in which I write down everything I come across; every command I execute; every snippet of code that looks promising. I later on do multiple passes over it, extracting thoughts, complementing links, creating new knowledge-base entries, amending others. It has only been 2.5 months since I switched over from my bear vault, but already the experience is an entirely different one.