Think in analog, capture in digital

Oct 14, 2023

Notes give us history

When we look at the greats of history, we find that they wrote, a lot. And we typically know them as the greats because we have their writings. And usually they were writing only for themselves. Marcus Aurelius, Leonardo DaVinci, Isaac Newton. Undoubtedly these three made significant contributions to humanity and history but their notes have also been pivotal. Pivotal, in a scientific, artistic and philosophical way.

The above is a lesson in how notes are not just useful for ourselves, but others. The question is, how do we preserve them for generations to come?

From handwriting, to print, to digital

In the past we've taken handwriting and put it in print. But today we don’t think in terms of handwriting and print. We have analog (physical) and digital.

Depending on who you ask one is clearly superior. You have the analog lovers who champion aesthetics, better information retention and creativity. You have the digital lovers who focus on efficiency, organisation and permanence.

Digital preserves for the future

To be a frustrating centrist I would say, “why not both?”. Analog is the better choice for thinking and note-taking 90% of the time. But its usefulness ends when all those insights are trapped in notebooks. Gathering dust and requiring overly obtuse ways of organisation like BuJo.

This is where we can supplement with digital methods of storage. We can review what we’ve written and decide if it’s worth capturing. What we’re left with is a digital archive of our pursuits. Whether they’re intellectual, creative or personal. They are kept safe for generations to come to discover. Especially if they’re captured in a universal format like TXT or Markdown. Even more so if they are stored publicly.

We may not know now whether our insights and thoughts are useful. But they may be useful for those that come after us. By leaving them in an easy to access, long lasting, public format we can ensure our contributions to society last longer than us.