Sources & Methods: Podcast Follow-Up

We're five episodes old! The small podcast I started together with Matt Trevithick is coming along nicely. In our most recent episode, we talk with programmer and note-taker Mark Bernstein. Mark is the force behind the notetaking and outlining software, Tinderbox, much beloved by knowledge workers. This episode is about note-taking, its uses and why people need to think reflexively about the work they're doing.

It seems to have struck a chord with listeners: we've had three times as many as usual. That could also have been helped by a mention over at The Atlantic from James Fallows:

Mark Bernstein is the creator of intriguing idea-organizing Mac software called Tinderbox, which I've mentioned over the years. I have never met him but have often corresponded; three years ago, he was a guest blogger here. This week, in a podcast interview for the Sources and Methods site, he talks not so much about his software but about the larger question of how thinking interacts with the tools of the electronic age. If you find the podcast provocative, you might well be interested in the book The Tinderbox Way, which is equal parts guide to Bernstein's Tinderbox program and meditation on the right and wrong approach to "information farming." As you'll gather from the podcast and see in the book, the kind of farming he has in mind is nothing like mega-scale factory farming and very much like an artisanal plot.

The Director of Teaching and Learning, for the Bedford/St. Martin's imprint of Macmillan Education publishing house wrote a blogpost about the episode in which he recommended educators give it a listen:

There's a lot in the discussion that maps on to teaching writing, teaching research, teaching thinking, and faculty development for those professors who want to help students get better at writing, research, and thinking. The interview can be assigned in time points for students, or one might scroll to to a point and play a snippet as a way to launch a discussion. For students especially, this discussion focuses on the role of noting, of seeing and recording, and in the act of doing so, of thinking, organizing, and find order. In a way, it's about slowing down, of taking the time to start a system that will serve a learner as a writer, and over time, as they change as writers, learn more, know more, and will find it more and more useful to be able to go back into their reading and writing history to recall, reorganize, and rethink, note taking as a key element for revision.

I've added a number of podcasts to my regular queue in Overcast and in case you could use some recommendations, the following are almost always worth a listen, especially if you like the kinds of things you hear on Sources and Methods: