About Notemaking

About Notemaking

I started blogging in 2002, and since 2009 I’ve steadily maintained 5000 as my personal research blog. There, I post details on conference talks and publications and I post reflections on topics relevant to academics and industry professionals in the areas of technical and professional communication in digital environments, research methodologies, and instructional technologies. I’ve also used Twitter since 2009.

Quite often, though, I encounter ideas that are too big for Twitter and too ill-formed or tangential for my research blog. These might be quotes from articles or books, reflections on matters related to my work, images of the everyday, or simply links to items of interest. At certain times I’ve posted these things in a variety of other spaces[1], but never in an organized manner that’s well articulated with the rest of the things I do online.

Notemaking is the space I’ve created for sharing and discussing these things. Notemaking is about invention, discussion, and commonplacing.

Haas (1996) defines notemaking as “the creation and manipulation of planning notes prior to, and occasionally during, writing” (p. 98). In her experimental studies of writers’ planning processes she argues that notes “are at once the output of planning, a strategy for cognitive monitoring, and a writer’s first visible attempts at language” (p. 98; emphasis added).

Haas discusses the inventional and heuristic benefits of notemaking, suggesting that these practices created infrastructures of external memory and cognitive monitoring while aiding writers in developing conceptual structures that “provide a way to work out relationships between ideas and to develop” more complex arguments (98).[2]

This is short-form writing that is epistemologically productive. It’s writing, linking, and sharing as a way of working out ideas and relationships.

Notemaking is my space for heuristic, inventional, and public short-form writing.

Notemaking is also, I hope, useful or interesting for others. It’s the kind of blog you might like to read via RSS. The kind of blog that provides links or ideas you’ll follow up on and think about later. Or right now.


  1. I’ve used Tumblr and txt.tio and Posterous—among other tools—to post the shorter, less coherent notes and ideas that act as a kind of digital commonplace book. Most of all, though, I was an avid user of Google Reader’s public posting and commenting features to share the kinds of things I discuss here. Since Google moved to integrate Reader more strongly with Google+, I’ve lacked a good outlet for notemaking and commonplacing.  ↩

  2. Much of these last two paragraphs are taken directly from my 2011 article “Sociotechnical Notemaking: Short-Form to Long-Form Writing Practices”.  ↩