Thoughts About Note Taking Tools

4 January, 2023

I don’t think my digital note-taking tools are doing the best job of helping me be smarter/more creative/whatever.

— Jack Baty1

That’s not the purpose of a note taking tool, whether digital or analog.

Note taking tools are just that. They’re a mechanism for helping you collect information. It’s up to you to organize and classify that information. It’s up to you to make sense of it, to shape it, to (wherever necessary) turn that information into knowledge.

It’s not the fault of a tool if you’ve collected so much that you can’t find anything, or if you just dumped information into the tool without even a scintilla of a plan to keep track of it. Or if you decided to drop everything that you’ve found into those tools because you thought it was interesting or could be useful in the future.

Note taking tools are repositories. How information is shaped in them is up to you. The tools won’t magically turn that information into knowledge or any other usable form — like a book chapter, an article, a blog post, a paper, or a set of instructions.

It’s up to you to do that.

No tool is going to make you smarter or more creative, more interesting or better organized, regardless of what a tool’s creator or most enthusiastic proponents say. All of that lies with you.

Scott Nesbitt

  1. Sorry, I don’t have a link to the source. Baty keeps shifting his blog between platforms and links break or disappear, which is damned frustrating when you want to cite him.