Good Notes Should Behave Like Memory*

At any moment, our minds can only hold and connect a handful of related ideas and memories.

Our brains are good at thinking moment to moment, but not over time, especially across days and weeks and months.

That’s why we have to take notes for every intellectual endeavor. We open a page, canvas or room and lay out many different ideas, move them around and connect or group them.

But every time we publish a piece or finish a project, we close the door into that room, and start anew with a fresh room.

What if we had one single room for our notes for an entire lifetime? What if we would collect every interesting idea we come across in this one place? Every time we came across a new idea we would simply draw a line to previously collected ideas that are related.

“In this way, we’d construct an infinite transcript of our thoughts that was our life’s canvas for ideas.” (thesephist.com, 2021)

Wait! What if we push this concept even further?

What if, we don’t have to draw the lines from idea to idea ourselves? What if connections would arise just like in our memory? Ideas would be associated with each other automatically. We wouldn’t be stopped in our flow each time we take a note, thinking about how to link it.

Napkin Demo

Try it yourself 👉 https://napkin.one

*Like every great idea, this is just a remix of other great ideas: Special thanks to Linus Lee, Paul Bricman, Michael Nielsen and Andy Matuschak for the inspiration. 🙏

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