How to Take Notes: Insights From AI, Neuroscience, a Sociologist, and a Free App

Insights and tools to help you take better notes and think better

Hause Lin
Published in
5 min readJul 19, 2020


Why do we take notes? How should we take notes?

I’ve been thinking quite a lot about note-taking lately. I debated with friends, did some research, and this post summarizes what I’ve learned about the second question: How should we take notes? (See also my post on how to learn.)

If you’re interested in why we take notes, check out my post below:

Below, I’ll describe how an app, Obsidian, a sociologist, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence (AI) have changed the way I think about note-taking.

Free and incredible note-taking app: Obsidian

Obsidian note-taking app
Multi-pane editor and knowledge graph. Screen recording by the author.

Obsidian is a free note-taking app that wants to be your second brain. I’ve been using it for a few weeks and I’m loving it.

It’s made by the creators of Dynalist, a very powerful and free outliner that directly takes on popular apps like Workflowly. Obsidian is an excellent free alternative to other apps like Roam Research, Zettlr, RemNote, and Notion.

As described in my Obsidian post, it has many incredible features like multi-pane markdown editing, linking, back-linking, graphs, local notes with online sync, and a super active community (forum and Discord).

Obsidian lets you implement any note-taking system, but most importantly, it incorporates the ideas described below.



Hause Lin
The Startup

researcher | like to learn, think, discuss ideas, combine data & behavioral science, classical music | | linkedin: