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Rapid Note-Taking with the Morse Code Method (2008) (calnewport.com)
75 points by Tomte 5 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 12 comments





> If you cease forward movement with your eyes so you can, for example, underline a few lines, or draw a bracket next to paragraph, or, dare I say it, highlight a sentence, it will require a large energy burst to get started once again. Too many such stops and starts and your brain will be fried.

For me that's not true. The biggest "energy drain" is when I rush reading something and get fuzzy about what is being said. Understanding the text becomes harder and harder and a lot of will power is required to keep reading the text that no longer makes sense. Re-reading a paragraph 2-3 times or stopping to think more about what was written helps. So the fewer times I stop the more my brain will get "fried".


Cool idea.

Also: there seems to be a "new school -vs- old school" schism of sorts between (Tiago Forte, PARA, and the Roam + Notion scene) vs (Cal Newport and traditional GTD). I don't have the link handy but this week I saw something from the former calling out the latter. Of course this article was 2008 so it's not Cal himself responding, but I'm curious if others see this pattern too.


I'm wondering if it's due to a shift in where the reading occurs (eg paper vs screen)

Does anyone have any experience with using a system like this for annotating digital media (PDFs and websites)? I've been thinking about setting up a hypothesis account (https://web.hypothes.is/) to do this, but I'm wondering if there are other better tools out there.

Oddly enough the preferred method to learn morse code would be to learn one bit at a time very well. So get really good at hearing the letter e, then and only then worry about getting good at learning the letter a, etc. Might have to listen to the same morse code many times to learn all the letters, but you'll get it eventually.

Its an interesting note taking strategy in general; better to learn a subset very well then expand the subset over time.

The idea in the article of "highlight without a highlighter" is interesting. You can see how some people need paper copies specifically because of their learning style, whereas people who don't highlight do just fine with tablets and phone emails. AFAIK interviewing processes do not find employees with matching culture fit, which is too bad as it would probably help quite a bit (imagine being the only guy on the team who needs paper copies of everything, or the only guy who can't use search function on his phone because everyone else is using paper)


Preferred method to learn morse code would be to learn one bit at a time very well.

There's an approach to learning Morse code where you hear single letters sent at about 40WPM, with a long pause between letters. The idea is to learn each letter as a sound bite of its own, not dots and dashes. As recognition improves, the pauses between letters get shorter, until you're listening to real 40WPM code.

I thought from the original article that this was going to be a scheme for taking notes in Morse code, maybe with a key strapped to your thigh.


Not related to the goal of the article, but if you're looking to learn Morse check out https://morse.withgoogle.com/learn/

And then install a morse keyboard on your phone.


Are there any good morse code keyboards for phones these days, though? iDitDahText was good, but only for iOS and it's no longer.

Some baseline features to expect are being able to slide between keys, auto-repeat, and iambic keying. None of the alternatives had all of those last I checked.


What's missing in 'hacks' like these is the core purpose of note taking in learning contexts: to increase retention and understanding through mentally summarizing and connecting ideas.

You do this first when encountering a subject, then later through active recall, repetition, and practice. It's very difficult to do that with bare bones notes and underlined keywords/phrases. It skips over the necessary mental processes involved in moving information from short to long-term memory, and for understanding. Highlighting keywords/phrases doesn't aid in retention or understanding, it avoids it.


As the article itself recommends of texts, read the whole thing.

I do something similar. When I come across something that could be a question in my anki deck, I draw a 'Q' next to it and when I create my deck, I can just go there. It is much faster than highlighting and is pretty quick.

I think highlighting is an anqiquated note taking method. I often feel like I end up highlighting not enough, or too much.


Hmmm. Not so useful on my kindle.



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