Professor Ed Boyden’s relentless note taking practice

Excerpt from Tyler Cowen’s The Age of the Infovore:

I find it really useful to write and draw while talking with someone, composing conversation summaries on pieces of paper or pages of notepads. I often use plenty of color annotation to highlight salient points. At the end of the conversation, I digitally photograph the piece of paper so that I capture the entire flow of the conversation and the thoughts that emerged. The person I’ve conversed with usually gets to keep the original piece of paper, and the digital photograph is uploaded to my computer for keyword tagging and archiving. This way I can call up all the images, sketches, ideas, references, and action items from a brief note that I took during a five-minute meeting at a coffee shop years ago-at a touch, on my laptop. With 10-megapixel cameras costing just over $100, you can easily capture a dozen full pages in a single shot, in just a second.

Cowen, Tyler. The Age of the Infovore: Succeeding in the Information Economy. New York: Plume, 2010 (see page 97)

Ed Boyden’s note taking practice seems both exhausting and exhilarating. Tedious and satisfying. He’s not only writing notes, but drawing them as well.

It’s taken him far though. He’s gone from blogger for the Technology Review to the Professor in the Departments of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Media Arts and Sciences, and Biological Engineering, and an HHMI investigator at MIT.

For someone who understands so much about the brain, is Boyden’s drawing function of his note-taking deliberate? A tool to help him remember and synthesize information?

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