Watch Andy Matuschak write notes

Someone on another board I am on shared this video Andy Matuschak shared of one of his note-writing sessions.

It’s a long video of a guy taking notes and talking about taking notes, but strangely engrossing. A few things I found:

  1. This really demonstrates writing as thinking. Andy really wrestles with ideas as he is taking notes. This illustrates well the idea of not just capturing other people’s ideas, but note-taking to generate new ideas. He talks a lot about making claims in his notes, not just capturing others’ ideas.

  2. There’s a lot of starts and stops. Andy starts writing something, reconsiders it, abandons it, picks it up again.

  3. I am not sure if it’s just not seen in the video, but I was impressed with how much Andy seemed to retain from the Design Unbound book (which is in the background of all the notes he writes). He doesn’t appear to be referring back to any kind of fleeting notes on the book at all as he proceeds. His recall is much, much better than mine.

  4. I wonder about the relationship between the notes he creates in this video and other work he’s done. At one point, he opens up an essay he’s previously published and starts capturing ideas from it. I was curious about how that works from a knowledge management perspective. It just struck me as odd to be creating new notes from something that’s already been published.

Thought others might find it interesting. Curious to hear what you think.


I watched some of this a while back. What struck me as odd is the lack of extrinsic objective. I guess because I’m a lifelong student (and now researcher) I’ve never really had the occasion to try to deeply read something just because I was curious about it. Instead, all of my reading has been because I suspect the thing is relevant e.g., to a paper I’m trying to put together.

Perhaps the difference is nuanced but it was curious to me!

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I think he does have one; he has areas he researched and writes about (like tools for thinking) that I assume inform his reading. He talks on a podcast I listened to about how his notes drive his creative projects. I think he does talk a bit about how he does keep “hobby” notes, too, though.

That said, I think most of my note taking is me just following threads I am interested in. They often align with my work but not usually by design these days. Most of my work-related notes would just be meeting notes, unfortunately.


No danger of Andy getting rich as YouTube influencer.

He’s using the wrong note-taking app: Bear instead of Obsidian :laughing: