Thinking is Messy

Robin Rendle says, mess up your books when you read them.

I say, mess up your “good” blank notebooks.

DC’s constellation of quotes around AI and human intelligence reminds us that human intelligence is embodied intelligence.

Physicist Richard Feynman said that he did not do the work in his head, he actually had to use the paper to do the work.

Write on your books.

Write in your books.

Highlight. Underline. Circle things. Draw arrows. Add post-it notes and paper clips. Dog-ear some corners.

Write zingers in the margins when you vehemently disagree.

Write your astonishment in the margins when something amazes you.

It helps you think.

And thinking is messy.

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Wondering how to manage your paper-based or hybrid paper-digital systems? Ask me a question.


Rendle, R. (2023) “Your reading should be messy”, 25 March. Available at: (Accessed: 25 March 2023).

DC (2021) ‘“an enigmatic nexus of all these things at once”’, Roof Nails & Toothpicks, 21 December. Available at: (Accessed: 25 March 2023).

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