My Digital Gardening Process
- also relevant to Getting Started With FluxGarden
All my reading and writing is digital.
I'm just Good Enough at following any particular process.
All my reading and writing is digital.
I save everything into Instapaper. I read them all on my phone or tablet. I highlight obsessively. When I finish an article, I either click the Like button to flag as ready-to-scrape, or I delete it.
Periodically I process them: I wrote a script to download all my highlights, then I manually tweak them, then I wrote another script to auto-post them to my outer space. (Occasionally I'll want something to go only in my inner space, so I'll just copy/paste that by hand.) There are more details (and a video) about this process in the Instapaper page.
But one key part worth noting is that the manual process is where I add links. I'll tend to link many/most person and company names. And I'll link to keywords I know I use elsewhere. In some cases that word/phrase doesn't actually exist in the article, so I'll typically add it within or at the end of a particularly appropriate highlight-line.
Among other things, my script makes every line italic. So when I also add notes, I make them non-italic.
By default I bring my first highlighted line up into the first paragraph with the title. But sometimes I instead pick the "best" line from the body, and copy/paste it up there. When I do that, I often bold-italic the line down in the body. (I don't have too many rules I follow super-consistently.)
I read in MoonReader because it's the best app I've found for exporting all my Highlighting And Annotating. So I have to run most ebooks through CaLibre to strip out the DRM. Then I copy them to a GoogleDrive folder, which has been the easiest way to download to my phone and tablet.
When I finish a book, I email myself all the highlights/notes. They have some punctuation cruft, so I use my BBEdit editor to clean them up, and then copy/paste into a page. As with articles, there's the occasional case where I put it in my inner garden instead of the other.
I read/highlight them in MoonReader, too, so the process is roughly the same.
Progressive Summarization vs atomic notes vs neither
Some people are super-disciplined about writing notes in their own words, and some are super-disciplined about breaking down a book and even an article into multiple "atomic" (single-idea) notes.
I do neither. Sometimes I feel bad about it.
If I were a full-time researcher, maybe I'd be more disciplined. But I'm not.
Or, if I found a book just that darn useful (see Bad-Ass). Alas that is rare.
What I do do heavily is that linking, which emphasizes association and creates hooks/affordances to find, not just the page, but the place where I linked.
Also, notes/structures that are relevant this year but be less-relevant next year.
If I'm chewing over a particular idea, I'm likely to make a new page for it. If an article directly relates to that, I'll edit its page to link to my new page. And/or I'll reference the article-page in my new-page. That way I'm focused on the structure of my thought.
Other thinking processes
Every Monday morning I make a new WeeklyReview page (I think on a cadence of Mon-Sun, not Sun-Sat). I like having weekly bundles rather than daily pages because they're a better bucket to scan. The top of the page will get filled with daily notes, but I start with a Review of the past week and Plan for the coming week framed around My 25-Year Vision Roles.
I'm not great about DailyWriting. When something's eating at me I'll write a couple sentences. Sometimes that's connected to an ongoing thought that has its own page, so I'll link to that and maybe add more, etc.
I'm trying interstitial gardening, more for my day-job notes than anything else, because
- it gives me a sense of accomplishment
- it nudges me toward thinking about outcomes of sessions, to be careful about yak-shaving and wanking.
The ideas over there capture pretty well how I think about private journaling.
Twitter feeds 95% of my article-inbox.
And tweets themselves are high-value idea-blocks. (2018-11-15) Books Vs Tweets
And I tweet out my own ideas.