Beautiful Models: Marginalia

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is marginalia?”

“Marginalia as an idea means writing down your thoughts and observations on the margin of a book.

For a very long period of my life, I didn’t know how to take notes. And I didn’t know I didn’t know.

I did take notes. I highlighted ideas, and copied them in my commonplace book. The problem is, my note-taking process was mostly passive.

Highlighting (passive)
Copying highlights (passive)

I realized, marginalia is the most important part of the note-taking process.

Marginalia (active)

Marginalia means engaging with the ideas, in writing, connecting them with other ideas, extracting mental models, and asking questions.”

“But don’t you read on Kindle? Which means you can’t scribble notes directly on the book.”

“This is where the marginalia model comes in.

Marginalia as a model means writing down your thoughts and observations next to an idea after copying it

I used to consider a copied highlight as a note.
Now I’ve raised my standards. A note is a copied highlight and its marginalia.

Note = Copied Highlight + Marginalia

“Can you give an example?”

“Let’s take one of my notes from Charlie Munger:

Forgetting your mistakes is a terrible error if you’re trying to improve your cognition.

In the past, this would have been my full note.

Now, with marginalia, it looks like this:

Forgetting your mistakes is a terrible error if you’re trying to improve your cognition.

(Errors, Thinking)

~ Pay attention to your mistakes. Never ignore them.
~ Every time you make a mistake, pause and reflect.

(Awareness, Learning Cycles, Pause & Reflect)

What’s in parantheses are models, which integrate the information in my conceptual web.”

About Dani Trusca

Life-Artist, Thinker, Mover (Traceur)

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