Our Brains Don't Think Linearly

One of the reasons Books Don’t Work is that information is fed to us linearly. There’s a start, an end, and exactly one correct path in between. However, our brains are sporadic, they build associations with marginally-related things, and they want to explore various avenues that an author could have never anticipated.

Our ineptitude in getting at the record is largely caused by the artificiality of systems of indexing. When data of any sort are placed in storage, they are filed alphabetically or numerically, and information is found (when it is) by tracing it down from subclass to subclass. It can be in only one place, unless duplicates are used; one has to have rules as to which path will locate it, and the rules are cumbersome. Having found one item, moreover, one has to emerge from the system and re-enter on a new path. [1]

To take useful notes they should be written non-linearly. While there is necessarily a start, there doesn’t have to be an end, and there is no single correct path to traverse them. Beyond simple notes, I’m growing to believe that for books in general this might be a more effective means of communicating ideas.


  1. V. Bush, “As We May Think,” The Atlantic, Jul-1945. Available: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1945/07/as-we-may-think/303881/. ↩︎