Note-taking apps (and practices) do make us smarter
Platformer’s Casey Newton published an interesting piece on note-taking apps yesterday: Why note-taking apps won’t make us smarter.
It’s a fairly rich piece in that it clearly lays out a number of challenges experienced by people participating in knowledge management and innovation. These challenges — such as the fundamental idea that these tools should be designed to help us think, not just to collect things — are important.
However, I have to disagree with the headline.
Does a hammer1 make someone stronger?
But you can do a lot more with a hammer than you can do with your fists.
Same goes for note-taking apps.2
But, as many have described already, it’s how we use the tool that matters.
What won’t make us smarter is to do what Casey describes in the article:
I waited for the insights to come.
And waited. And waited.
This was originally published in a Mac Power Users forum discussion.
And same goes for our note-taking practices, which is often overlooked in articles like the OP but, as many have already discussed here, is the thing that actually matters. Latour and co. had it right. It’s not the person, and it’s not the tool, it’s person + tool. Or: we shape our tools, and they shape us. ↩︎