30 - Purpose of Note Taking - Note Taking at its core is an answer to the problem of a restricted human memory system. We do not have the time nor attention span to properly encode and store all the information we think will be important. So we make a note of it, with the intention of referencing it later on after we’ve forgotten the details.
Future reference is the classical use of note taking, whereby the note acts a form of external memory. In its most simplest form, it is offloading a piece of information onto a sticky note so that you don’t have to keep it looping in your short term memory. It serves as a reminder. More permanent notes helps with information that you want to be able to access much later, similar to long term memory.
Over time we moved from private note collections to public versions due to an infoglut in medieval society. People started curating information and offering summaries of worthwhile information in the form of reference books. You see the modern equivalent in websites such as Blinkist.
Notes as a form of External Structure Building - Eventually readers such as Luhmann were looking to get more out of there notes than mere referencing. He did this through the creation of a linking system in a physical note collection. When you introduce linking into a system, it allows for information to be connected and form a structure. For example, neurons link together in your brain to make a structure that takes the form of a “small world network”. Luhmann was building a structure (network of notes) that represented “the entire spectrum of social phenomena” through a grand theory of society (Schmidt, 2018).