Zettelkasten Forum


The Barbell Method of Reading

edited May 2018 in Blog
imageThe Barbell Method

The Zettelkasten note-taking method has made book writing and writing scientific papers easy for hundreds of years already.

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Comments

  • I s there any difference in how you would read and also take notes in reading a a hardback edition of a book and a digital version of that book. Do you prefer to read a hardback versus a digital version or does that matter in regards to the area of retention. There has been studies supporting the notion that reading e book are not as effective as hardback books in regard to retention. Your thoughts?

  • No. I don't make any differences. But I never read digital books. I spend a lot of time in front of the screen and reading. Yes, there is an efficiency thing you mentioned: Physical beats digital when it comes to retention.

    But there are many other factors to include: Counterbalance over-digitalisation for example. I don't want suboptimization in my life. I don't want blue light overload. etc.

  • @sfast I like paper books too. But AFAIK there's no blue light issue with Kindle.
    Also as I see it, it's not really a matter of "suboptimization"; it's a matter of compromises. With six physical books in your bag for summer reading, you are sub-optimizing for space and weight compared to a Kindle. You can quickly highlight text on a Kindle for later processing. And pages have entry ids so you have a reference when you write notes on paper. So it's a different workflow, but not much different.

  • @System when reading this article I had a hard time understanding WHY you call it a barbell strategy. Here is how Nassim explains it:

    "If you know that you are vulnerable to prediction errors, and … accept that most “risk measures” are flawed, then your strategy is to be as hyperconservative and hyperaggressive as you can be instead of being mildly aggressive or conservative."

    In other words, put your eggs in two baskets. One basket holds extremely safe investments, while the other holds nothing but leverage and speculation.

    But what's that have to do with reading a book twice? I'd call it a "two-phase" strategy, or a "dual-pass" or "fast-slow" approach. I think the references to investment strategy distract from the article more than it helps. You could just cut that out entirely and it would be greatly improved.

  • Sorry, but this article is pure garbage. It is just pointing out that there are other animals that behave differently. It doesn't address the approach Peterson is using (Consilience of Knowledge) or any of its arguments.

    @maxhodges said:
    @sfast I like paper books too. But AFAIK there's no blue light issue with Kindle.
    Also as I see it, it's not really a matter of "suboptimization"; it's a matter of compromises. With six physical books in your bag for summer reading, you are sub-optimizing for space and weight compared to a Kindle. You can quickly highlight text on a Kindle for later processing. And pages have entry ids so you have a reference when you write notes on paper. So it's a different workflow, but not much different.

    There is a blue light issue. :smile:

    I am not talking about using a kindle as a tool for vacation. If you travel for six weeks and want to read 10 books a kindle is great. But I could also argue that if you have a problem to carry six books you should work on your back strength. :smile:

    The difference comes into play when it comes to to processing depth. The haptics, the act of making notes with a pen etc. increase the processing depth in you brain. Numbers for example are partly processed in your motor cortex. It make a difference how you take notes. Making notes or drawing on paper is a very different from doing it digital from he brains perspective. The workflow should train your brain accordingly. Additionally, you behave differently when you work digitally. There are many factors to consider. The non-physicality, the light, the lack of optical change when you turn a page, the possibility of clicking links etc.

    I see your point but there are hidden costs of the digital world. You could do a simple experiment: Read for four weeks kindle only. Then switch to physical only four additional four weeks. I believe that you would be surprised how different you will feel. :smile:

    @maxhodges said:
    @System when reading this article I had a hard time understanding WHY you call it a barbell strategy. Here is how Nassim explains it:

    "If you know that you are vulnerable to prediction errors, and … accept that most “risk measures” are flawed, then your strategy is to be as hyperconservative and hyperaggressive as you can be instead of being mildly aggressive or conservative."

    In other words, put your eggs in two baskets. One basket holds extremely safe investments, while the other holds nothing but leverage and speculation.

    But what's that have to do with reading a book twice? I'd call it a "two-phase" strategy, or a "dual-pass" or "fast-slow" approach. I think the references to investment strategy distract from the article more than it helps. You could just cut that out entirely and it would be greatly improved.

    1. You are investing time when you read.
    2. Processing depth adds to risk and to reward. (In the form of reading very slow or twice)

    So you have to types of investment: Reading fast and gaining much of the knowledge (safe investment of time because you can process a lot per unit of time) and reading carefully and gaining (possibly) less information but occasionally get a big surprise. (Sometimes valuable knowledge is hard to digest).

    Reading all the time with the same "mode" means to not adapt to the circumstances. So you put your eggs in two baskets:

    1. Read new books fast and mark all the paragraphs with interesting or promising content. (safe investment of time)
    2. Read the marked paragraphs again. (risky investment of time with big surprises).

    Reading most of the time with a small risk of wasting time. Reading a small proportion of your reading time with a high risk of wasting time (but possibly big reward).

    Therefore: Barbell Method.

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