Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Studies in Semitic vocalization

Niche, but in case someone might be interested:


  1. So, as I plop this right next to 39 other PDFs to read...anyone got a strategy for knocking out reading? And do people take notes to remember?

    1. Lol, same here. I'm way behind on reading stuff. :)

      As far as reading strategies, one thing I do is I do one thing at a time. So if I'm reading, I just read. Rather than doing lots of other things at the same time. Another thing is I try to find a place where I can be (relatively) undisturbed when I read, turn off or at least turn down the smartphone, disconnect from wifi, etc. When I read, I tend to persuse the contents first, then quickly glance over the book as a whole, so that I get a good overview of the book. At least all this is my ideal, not that I always live up to it!

      I don't take notes if it's light reading, of course, but I do take notes if it's serious reading I want to be able to remember well. I'll use various pdf readers with the ability to highlight and take notes (e.g. PDF Expert) as well as sync my files or documents with a cloud. However, I find it's better for remembering if there are Q&A resources associated with a particular book. That works in fields like medicine where one can, for example, read a pathology book (e.g. Robbins Basic Pathology), then do questions on pathology (e.g. Robbins Review of Pathology). I think that's because answering questions on what's just been read is active learning rather than passive learning. Likewise, I know many people find note-taking not as helpful so instead they'll make flashcards (e.g. Anki), then go through the flashcards periodically (i.e. spaced repetition). That helps too.

    2. Thinking about the larger context helps. Reading small amounts as you have time (waiting for an appointment, during a break at work, when you can't sleep at night, etc.) has a major cumulative effect over the long run. Setting aside time each day (or each week, etc.) has a significant cumulative effect as well. Don't just set aside time for reading the Bible. Set aside time for reading other things as well. Even if it's just one or two pages a day, that's a lot of material over a year and even more over a decade, then multiple decades. I've mentioned before that I started reading a couple of pages of the church fathers each day, after hearing William Lane Craig refer to how he did that, years ago. I don't know how many thousands of pages I've read now in that context, in addition to reading patristic material in other contexts. Combine set patterns of reading (daily, weekly, or whatever) with sporadic reading. Do both.

      It doesn't always make sense to read the books you're most interested in first. Sometimes it's better to read something less desirable first, for whatever reason. But it is good to periodically read the books you're most interested in. Don't limit yourself to those books, but make sure you frequently include them to some extent. The more you're reading the less desirable books, the more difficult the process is going to be, the more weary you're going to get, etc.

      I take both written and electronic notes. I don't know much about the latest technology, so somebody like Hawk probably could make better recommendations in that context.

      When I'm reading a paper book, I typically fold a piece of paper in half, giving me four pages to write notes on. Each note has the page number, sometimes with the location on the page ("top" for the top of the page, "beg of fourth par" for the beginning of the fourth paragraph, etc.), followed by a description of the significance of what's found there. I write a star or something else next to any note I want to highlight as something I expect to find especially significant in the future. If I use up all four pages, I put the folded piece of paper behind the cover of the book and get another piece of paper to write more notes on. The paper serves as a bookmark as I'm reading the book, and all of the pieces of paper get stored behind the front cover once I'm done reading the book.

      I often take electronic notes when I'm doing something with my computer, such as watching a debate or listening to a lecture. Electronic notes have a lot of advantages over written ones (taking up less space, the ability to search them with Ctrl F, etc.). I've been taking more electronic notes as time has passed, and I'll probably keep moving in that direction. If you can get into a pattern of taking notes electronically rather than in writing all of the time or almost all of the time, that would be good. And there are advantages to having large files with a lot of information that can be electronically searched rather than breaking the notes up into a lot of different files. It may make sense to use separate files in some contexts, but you should be hesitant to do it.

      It may also be worthwhile to turn written notes into electronic ones. If there are, say, twenty books whose written notes you find yourself consulting a lot, it may be worthwhile to type out the notes for those books, so that you have an electronic file to use instead in the future.

    3. Tons of great advice from Jason!

      I just wanted to briefly add there are several good note-taking and related apps (e.g. OneNote, Notability, Goodnotes, PDF Expert, Evernote).

      If you can afford it, I'd recommend an iPad with Apple Pencil plus a good note-taking app. I have Notability and PDF Expert, but I've heard the others mentioned are good too. It depends what you want out of them.

      For example, watch this video to see what a good app can do (e.g. convert writing to text, record audio of lectures while taking notes, import images and slides and pdfs).