Harvesting Books

Books - bookcase top shelfImage by ~ Phil Moore via FlickrEver read something then wonder "where did I read that?"

  • If it is in the internets, you can search for it.  Online digitized information is easy to find.  
  • But if it is trapped away from the internets in a self-contained, totally hack-proof vault known as a.....book, then good luck finding it.
Given the sheer volume of stuff to read, I have a system of harvesting knowledge or tidbits from books. Since I was asked by Blake Huggins how I did it, I thought I would share it with everyone.
  1. While reading a book, when I hit a poignant passage or topic, I will write on the back page the topic and a page number.  
  2. While reading, when I hit another part of that topic, I just write the page number next to the topic.  That way, I can trace how a writer expands on a topic, which is useful for sermonizing of course.
    • Continuing the example, while reading I added page 138 to the topic when it was relevant, so it became "Storytelling (15) (138)"
  3. At my computer, I digitalize the notes under each topic so I can search for them later and so I can trace the development in one line.  If I still have the book (given that I have books I personally bought in 1998, that's a good bet), then I can go back and read the context to be faithful to the information.
    • Here's the compiled entry under STORYTELLING
      • "Marketing is the act of telling stories about the things we make" (15)
      • "[Leaders] give people stories they can tell themselves" (138)
  4. Finally, I will upload those notes to the internets so I can search for it anywhere I go.  I use Google Docs as an online repository.
So, there's my system. I can digitize great books and be able to find them again anywhere in the world.  Anyone else have a system they want to share?

PS: Blake, your blog now comes up as an automatic link in Zemanta AND your twitter icon shows up in the images.  How cool are you...and how creepy is that?


Blake January 3, 2009 at 3:13 PM  

now, in the open-source spirit, if we can just get you to share all your notes. :-)

i like your system. to be honest, i am not consistent. i always plan on getting things digitized, but usually never happens. and i can't tell you how many times i'm writing and i wish i could locate a quote/source. drives me nuts.

re: zemanta. i noticed that some of my posts started showing up. i thought about using them as "related content," but that seemed to shameless. i had not noticed my twitter icon. that is just, well, i'm not sure what that is.

Boxman January 4, 2009 at 11:54 AM  


Have you seen Scribd? I just found it a while ago and it seems kind of like napster for books etc. I'm not sure of all the legalities of having copyrighted books there, but for your notes etc. it would be a great way to get them out to people.


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