What is learning and the Slip-box?[reading notes]

Most of us would struggle when it comes to study, those who are lucky enough to acquire higher education find themselves also struggle to put an assignment, a presentation or a paper down. These suffers are not coincidence, they are the manifestation of our lack understanding of how to organize our thoughts when we are learning.

This article is a personal conclusion of first few chapters of ''how to make smart notes''[1], a book primarily focus on introducing the note taking technique called Zettlekasten (or Slip-box in English) and its rationale.

Firstly, we need to refresh our conception about learning. Principally, learning should be a life-long process with the guidance of own your interest, so the daily reading should be the journey to find what interests you and make it part of your own knowledge. The key point is that, in order to make your interest persistent, you have to free yourself from some onerous duties like memorizing key points, most of us find learning hard simply because our brain are forces to manage these tasks in parallel with our reading process, the more we learn, harder the task would be.

To manage to lighten our load, we need to develop a system, on which we can rely to store all our ideas and points. When we analyze learning from its technical perspective, learning is the process of processing raw data into your own thoughts by mean of making connections. Slip-box is efficient because it helps to gather your ephemeral ideas in one hand and helps to generate your thoughts(convert fleeting notes into permanent notes) on the other hand.

When we consider learning as the accumulation of useful information, then this process is heavily dependent on filtering out irrelevant one, otherwise it wouldn't be readable in the future. Therefore, Slip-box is a interdisciplinary archive consist of flowing and permanent information, it is based on atomized little notes to allow spaces for future discussion and utilization in all potential subjects.

Slip-box is the system of simplicity, it requires you to solely dependent on writing notes as a the way for learning and academic research. This makes sense when we find that the whole academia is established on the exchange of publicly written ideas. Therefore, writing plays an essential role in it: all the medium and the goals of academic world are written ideas. Under the assumption that studying is the independent research and the understanding that publicized writing is the mean and the end of academic world, we can have the conclusion that effective writing is the studying itself. Writing provide you with ideas and questions, which are all that matters for the broader sense of ''publication''.


[1] Ahrens, “How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking – for Students, Academics and Nonfiction Book Writers.”

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