BBE Overview

One Sentence Idea

The spirit of Hammertime, applied to the subject of Obsessive Notetaking.

(On further consideration, Gwern catches the intention I'm going for better than this does.*)

Quick Disclaimer

This is not an Intro to Notetaking course. Perhaps I will write one someday, but this is not it.

This is the write-along of one notetaking superuser, trying to work out how to be an even better notetaking superuser.

This is aired in public for a few reasons. First, it is part of the nature of writing to want some of it to be read. Perhaps it will be of use to other notetaking superusers. Also, I wanted to summon the blunt force of visible accountability.

It is my dream that this will come to resemble -in equal parts- a love-letter to notetaking, and a grueling practice-regimen.

With that said, let's see how I do.

Core Goal

My core goal is to make at least 4 reference-docs over this next month that I pull up at least 100x afterwards. Ideally, more like 1000x.

(For it to count, it must be brought up for the purpose of reading it, not writing to it. Constant updating is a cost, not a benefit.)

This seems achievable to me. I already have a few notes that probably pass this bar. My cheatsheet for BASH is top among them, but my personal list of Hamming Questions Variants gets pulled up a lot as well.

Secondary Goals

There are many secondary goals that would go well with this. Here are just a few of them.

  • Post on LessWrong 1/week
    • Could be things from the notes
    • Could be meta about the notetaking process
    • Could be double-meta about the notetaking learning process
    • There is No Triple-Meta
  • Learn things I expect my future self would endorse
    • Train to Retain, not Learn to Lose
    • Long Description: Make lasting seeds that my best future-self would endorsedly chose to repopulate her brainspace with, via looking them back up.
  • Keep a reference system that pays dividends
  • Better Structuring of Thought
  • (Complete list in personal notes)


My core notetaking software is the personal wiki software Tiddlywiki, with a side of StackEdit for quick uncategorized thoughts.

I have been extremely happy with Tiddlywiki. I don't expect this to change. I might go over why some other time; it would likely be an entire post in itself.


The main way I think I will do this is to produce many good notes, all of which have a reasonable chance of being re-referenced.

(Meta-note: It has been a week since I started, and I noticed that I've leaned more towards "systems" than I originally anticipated. This is not yet a problem, but could become one if it extends into the 2nd week)

However, I am likely to try a few things from every major angle of attack.

Broad strategies:

  • Improve my notetaking
    • More notes
    • Better notes
  • Make my notes easier to...
    • Retrieve
    • Reference
    • Use
  • Improve my Strategy
    • Choice of Subject
    • Templates and Indexing
    • Better Plug-Ins
    • TAPs

Last Thoughts

I started on this at the beginning of the month, so I already have things to report!

Week 1 split into 2 threads of thought, so check out one or both of...


* The Kimbro link caught some of that slightly-manic quality that helps get projects off the ground, but Gwern's description of long-living (alive, updating, revising) reference repositories for your future self hits closer to the core of my personal notetaking goals.

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